Slobodan Milosevic and General Obrad Stevanovic say that the Serbian police could not have acted in accordance with the law "in the cases they do not know happened"

Slobodan Milosevic in the courtroomSlobodan Milosevic in the courtroom

The Serbian police investigated all the cases in Kosovo "that they knew about, and they could not have investigated the cases they were not aware of", Slobodan Milosevic was trying to prove today, as general Obrad Stevanovic, former Serbian assistant interior minister continued his testimony.

After he spoke last week about the results of the police investigation in the Racak case, Stevanovic presented police documents today about the investigation into the events in Izbica, Kotlina and the Dubrava prison. According to the indictment and prosecution witnesses, Serbian forces shot dead about 120 Albanian men on 28 March 1999 in Izbica; about 100 Albanian prisoners were killed in the Dubrava prison in mid-May of the same year, while on 24 March the military captured, killed and threw into a well about twenty young men in the village of Kotlina.

Milosevic and his defense witness were trying to prove today that the investigations conducted by the Serbian police on crime scenes determined that the events had not unfolded as they are described in the indictment or in the testimonies of the survivors. According to the official Serbian police version, the bodies buried in Izbica were those of KLA members killed in the clashes with security forces; the prisoners in Dubrava were victims of the NATO air strikes, while in the village of Kotlina, the military and police killed about twenty members of a terrorist group as they searched the terrain. Their bodies were left as they lay.

Milosevic asked the witness about two cases in the indictment that had not been investigated by the Serbian police: the massacre in the shopping center in Suva Reka where about 50 members of the Berisha family were killed and the killing of the 19 members of the Imeraj family in the village of Padaliste. Eye-witnesses and survivors testified about the two crimes. Among them were the women that had lost entire families in Suva Reka and Padaliste, including four and five children respectively. In the voluminous documentation held by the Serbian MUP Stevanovic had studied as he prepared for the testimony, he did not find any written record of any investigation into those events. According to Stevanovic, the reason is simple: "The police did not know of those events and were thus unable to investigate" how they happened and who was responsible. As Milosevic stressed, "the police could not act in accordance with the law in cases where they were not aware they happened."

General Stevanovic's examination-in-chief, as Milosevic had indicated, was supposed to last 12 hours, but Judge Robinson noted today that it ran over 20 hours. Milosevic expressed "hope" that he would complete the examination-in-chief by tomorrow, so that the prosecutor could begin the cross-examination of one of the few top people of the Serbian MUP at the time of the Kosovo conflict who has not been indicted by the ICTY.