According to Barry Lituchy, history professor and member of the International Committee for the Defense of Slobodan Milosevic, there are two primary and two secondary reasons for the mass exodus from Kosovo in 1999

According to Barry Lituchy, professor of modern European history from New York and member of the International Committee for the Defense of Slobodan Milosevic, there were two primary and two secondary reasons for the mass exodus from Kosovo during the 1999 NATO air strikes and afterwards. None of the reasons involves violence by Serbian security forces – which are charges against Slobodan Milosevic in the indictment.

Lituchy claims that the main primary reason for the exodus from Kosovo is the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and its “use of terrorism against the ethnic groups of Serbs, Roma, Egyptians, Gorans, Jews…”, and against the Albanians who refused to collaborate with the KLA. The second primary cause, in his view, is “NATO bombs” which forced everybody flee, regardless of their ethnic background.

Secondary causes of the exodus from Kosovo, according to Lituchy, began to work after the NATO air strikes. After the withdrawal of the Yugoslav Army and the Serbian police from Kosovo, Serbs, Roma and others “no longer felt safe and left”. They also left because KFOR and UNMIK “failed to provide protection for the non-Albanian population”, he said.

According to the professor of modern European history, the days after the withdrawal of the VJ and MUP forces from Kosovo represent “the darkest days in recent European history,” because that is when there was a mass expulsion of up to 130,000 Roma, several hundred thousand Serbs, innumerable Egyptians and at least 20,000 Albanians who did not share KLA extremist ideas. The witness did not explain how he obtained those figures.

Professor Lituchy spoke with some of those persons and brought video tapes of those interviews with him to The Hague. Milosevic wants to have them admitted into evidence. The accused would also like to play some of the video material in the courtroom. There is a problem, however, because of his request that the tapes of interviews with Kosovo Albanians who had fled the KLA be shown in closed session, for reasons of their safety. The witness supported this request, explaining that the KLA “functions as a classic Fascist organization and wants to destroy, in other words, kill, its political opponents.” To support his claim, Lituchy stated that one of the three Kosovo Albanians he had spoken to about the reasons of their flight from Kosovo had been killed in the meantime.

Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice opposes the request for closed session, noting that the remaining two interviewees are “prominent members of the Albanian community and former members of the Temporary Executive Council of Kosovo,” and that he sees no reason “why they should be protected now.” If their statements are shown in closed session, the prosecution will not have chance, to check them and to determine in which circumstances those persons said what is recorded on video tape.

The debate on this issue continued in closed session until the end of the hearing today. Barry Lituchy’s testimony will continue tomorrow.