RELEVANCE OF NATO AIR STRIKES FOR MILOSEVIC’S CASE
Through Dr. Vukasin Andric’s testimony, Milosevic is trying to prove that mass movements of the Kosovo population in the spring of 1999 were a consequence of NATO bombs and KLA pressure and violence, rather than of the activities of Serbian security forces. In that case, NATO air strikes “could be relevant for Milosevic’s case”, Judge Robinson noted today
NATO air strikes in Serbia in the spring of 1999, as Judge Robinson explained to Milosevic today, are not “part of his case, but may be relevant in two ways”.
The air strikes may first of all be relevant if the accused argues that the Albanian population fled Kosovo in the spring of 1999 because of NATO air strikes, not because of the threats and violence of the Serbian security forces. The other way in which it may be relevant for Milosevic’s case, according to Judge Robinson, is in terms of “self-defense”, i.e., the claims of the accused that some of the actions by the Serbian forces were launched in response to NATO air strikes.
Through testimony of Dr. Vukasin Andric who was the secretary of health and a member of the Kosovo Interim Executive Council at the time of the bombing campaign, Milosevic was trying to prove his argument that the mass movements of the population in the spring of 1999 were a consequence of NATO bombs and KLA pressure and violence.
After Milosevic read out to him parts of the indictment describing alleged persecution of Albanian civilians by the military and police, Dr. Andric said that he “could claim with full responsibility that he never saw any military or police personnel who did anything bad to the Albanians.” Quite the contrary, the witness claims that the troops and police “helped those people”, “tried to persuade them to go back to their villages and homes”, “promised them protection”, but of course, “could not force them to stay if they decided to leave.”
Dr. Andric claims to have talked to the refugees moving on the roads in Kosovo and at the Macedonian border, trying to talk them into returning, and he “never heard any Albanian say that the Serbian forces had forced them to leave their homes.” He allows that possibly there were “individual cases”, where some, as he called them, “criminals threatened Albanians and forced them to leave,” but he can “claim with full responsibility that the police did not do that” and that this was “not the policy.”
Although, according to his testimony, he spent a lot of time at the border, Dr. Andric claims he did not see that Albanians had their personal identification documents taken away, torn or burned. He did “hear that there were such cases” and assumed that this was “done by individuals, as a precaution, to prevent any misuse of such documents.” As for the allegations in the indictment about sexual abuse of Albanian girls and women, the witness claims these are “pure fabrication.”
Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice began the cross-examination of Dr. Vukasin Andric just before the end of the hearing today and will continue on Monday, 28 February.
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