What's Left
 
July 29, 2002
 

Prosecution's witness refutes charges against Milosevic, says he was tortured



By Stephen Gowans

Picture this. A man is on trial, accused of horrible crimes.

The prosecution calls a former subordinate of the accused to give testimony.

The witness is hailed as a key prosecution asset, a member of the accused's inner circle, who will help ace the prosecution's case.

The witness takes the stand and the prosecutor begins his examination.

Reporters prepare to take down the damning testimony, secure in the knowledge the accused -- who they've already convicted -- will soon be brought to justice.

Then a bombshell. Rather than corroborating the prosecution's case, the witness refutes it.  No, the accused did not commit the crimes he's charged with, the key witness testifies.

And then another bombshell:  The witness says he was tortured to provide false testimony.

Astonishingly, the judge rules the witness's revelations about torture irrelevant.

The next day, reporters write nothing about the witness's torture claim. And the reporter from the newspaper of record says nothing of the witness exploding the prosecution's case, writing instead that "the prosecutors and observers (were) anxious to see (the accused) brought to justice."

A 1930's era show trial, complete with suborned witnesses, torture, contrived charges, and press propaganda?

No. But it is a show trial. And it does feature suborned witnesses, contrived charges, and press propaganda.  And torture.

But it's taking place right now, at The Hague. And the accused is former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

This is explosive, court room drama. And you've probably heard nothing of it.

Last week, Rade Markovic, former head of the Department of State Security of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, was called to testify as "a key prosecution witness." {1}

Milosevic has been accused of:
 

  • ordering the Serb police and Yugoslav army to commit war crimes;
  • ordering the expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo;
  • hiding evidence of mass executions of ethnic Albanians.


In short, Milosevic is accused of ethnic cleansing, and Markovic was to confirm the charges.

Instead "Markovic...told the trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague that no policy of ethnic cleansing existed during the 1999 conflict." {2}

On the contrary, testified Markovic, "I told (local officials ) that presidential orders are that the flow of refugees must be stopped" {3} adding that "the Yugoslav army and Serbian police had strict orders to protect Albanian civilians during NATO bombing" {4}  - hardly what you'd expect from an ethnic cleanser.

"I never got any order, nor did I hear about any order or plan to expel Albanians," Markovic told the tribunal. {5}

If this were Milosevic's witness, you might expect him to say something like this. But this was the prosecution's witness!

"Markovic said he had no knowledge of bodies transferred from Kosovo, a reference to mass graves near Belgrade discovered by Serb police in 2001, after Milosevic's ouster." {6}

"He also denied...that his former boss (Mr. Milosevic) had ordered Serb forces to hide evidence of mass executions of Albanians." {7}

While crimes were committed by Serb police and the army, a charge Milosevic has never denied, Markovic testified that "Milosevic himself said several times that 'every crime must be immediately punished.'" (8)

"More than 200 criminal charges were filed against members of the police, and I think a similar figure stands for the army," {9} Markovic told the tribunal.

Under cross-examination, the prosecution's key witness "confirmed the suggestion that (ethnic Albanian refugees) had fled NATO bombing and the risk of being drafted by Kosovo Albanian rebels." {10}

That's detrimental enough to the case, but what followed is even more damming:

"Markovic testified that he was tortured in (a Belgrade) jail to force him to agree to give false testimony against Slobodan Milsoevic."  {11}

Judge Richard May interrupted the cross-examination of Markovic, to argue that Markovic's allegations of torture were "irrelevant." {12}

The torture bombshell was ignored by the media. (13}

Why?

One of the big problems of the tribunal is that it's controlled by NATO, {14} the very same organization that bombed Yugoslavia, and engineered Milosevic's ouster. The very same organization that, according to Markovic's testimony, is responsible for the displacement of 800,00 ethnic Albanians.

The United States, which effectively controls the tribunal, recently rejected the International Criminal Court on grounds it could be subverted for political ends.

Who would know better than Washington?

{1} Milosevic witness: No Serb threats, CNN.com, 26 July, 2002

{2} Ibid.

{3}AP, 26 July, 2002

{4} Milosevic witness: No Serb threats, CNN.com, 26 July, 2002

{5} Ibid.

{6} Milosevic Master Spy Says No Expulsion from Kosovo, Yahoo! News, 28 July, 2002

{7} Milosevic witness: No Serb threats, CNN.com, 26 July, 2002

{8} Ibid., Milosevic Master Spy Says No Expulsion from Kosovo, Yahoo! News, 28 July, 2002

{9}AP, 26 July, 2002

{10}Milosevic witness: No Serb threats, CNN.com, 26 July, 2002

{11}Jared Israel & Nico Varkevisser,  Milosevic trial blows up in Hague prosecutor's face, 27 July, 2002 http://emperors-clothes.com/milo/rade.htm

{12} Ibid.

{13} Ibid.

{14}"Official Statements Prove Hague 'Tribunal' Belongs to NATO" at
http://www.icdsm.org/more/belongs.htm , cited in Jared Israel & Nico Varkevisser,  Milosevic trial blows up in Hague prosecutor's face, 27 July, 2002 http://emperors-clothes.com/milo/rade.htm

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