MILOSEVIC VS. CNN AND BBC
Through the testimony of a Macedonian emergency medical team and a German first lieutenant, Slobodan Milosevic opened his case against CNN, BBC and other Western media, accusing them of manipulation, forgery and attempts to create a false picture of the events in Kosovo
Ditmar Hartvig, witness in the Milosevic case
With the testimony of three members of the Skopje emergency medical team, who were on duty in camps for Kosovo refugees in the spring of 1999, Slobodan Milosevic opened his case against CNN, BBC and other Western media, accusing them of manipulation, forgery and attempts to create a false picture of the events in Kosovo and the plight of the Albanian refugees.
After Dr. Dobre Aleksovski and ambulance driver Goran Stojcic, today it was the turn of male nurse Mirko Babic to describe how the Western TV crews – first and foremost CNN and BBC – “staged” their reports from the refugee camps. Using almost the same words as Dr. Aleksovski and Stojcic, witness Babic described how a group of Albanians had taken a stretcher from his team and put a young man on it. The young man then proceeded to “writhe and thrash in front of the cameras.” When the scene was filmed, the young man leapt to his feet and they all laughed, congratulating each other.
In the cross-examination, Babic, just like Dr. Aleksovski and Stojcic before him, was unable to identify any of the participants in the “staged scenes” he said he had witnessed in refugee camps. Noting that “serious allegations” were made against CNN and BBC in Babic’s testimony and in the testimony of two previous witnesses, Judge Robinson suggested to the prosecutor to allow the organizations to respond to them in the rebuttal stage.
Milosevic further elaborated his case against the Western media through the testimony of Dietmar Hartwig, first lieutenant in the German Army, who was the head of the European Community Monitoring Mission in Kosovo in 1999. As he observed, the image of the situation in Kosovo created in the Western media “had nothing to do with reality.” The events, he claims, “were taken out of their context and presented in a one-sided manner”, with the “Albanians always portrayed as victims and Serbs as perpetrators of the crimes.” In the opinion of the witness, the Western media “failed” in the case of Kosovo and instead of “controlling the politics, they became its compliant servants.”
The European governments fared no better in the testimony of the German first lieutenant. Hartwig claims that all members of the European monitoring mission told him that there was “a clear contradiction between the reports they sent from the ground and what their governments published about the situation in Kosovo.”
According to the former head of the ECMM in Kosovo, the conflicts were provoked by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). He said the Serbian security forces would only “react and respond” to those provocations, and the KLA would then accuse the military and the police of “arbitrary violence.” According to the witness, the Serbian authorities “clearly aspired to a peaceful solution which would be satisfactory for all the parties,” while the goal of the KLA was “an independent Kosovo right from the start,” with, as he saw it, “a hidden view at the Albanians in Macedonia and Montenegro and an eventual unification of those parts.”
Dietmar Hartwig’s testimony will continue on Tuesday, 8 March.
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