General Obrad Stevanovic “unwisely used wrong terms" in the diary he kept in 1998 and 1999, when he met, as a high-ranking official Serbian MUP, with the accused Slobodan Milosevic

Obrad Stevanovic, witness in the Milosevic trialObrad Stevanovic, witness in the Milosevic trial

“No body – no crime”, General Obrad Stevanovic wrote in his diary in May 1999, at the time when he was the assistant minister of the interior in Serbia. The sentence is written in capital letters, as if it were a title of sorts. The word "president" is written above it, and below there is a series of short notes that look like a summary of arguments presented in someone's speech:

“They work arduously on that issue.” (the original word for "arduously" may in fact read "in an underhanded manner")
“They will justify the aggression with evidence of crimes”
“Simultaneous clean-up of the territory”
“We will find it harder (illegible) once the mission arrives”
“The clean-up of the terrain is the most important”

When the prosecutor showed him that page of the diary, General Stevanovic reluctantly confirmed that the handwriting was his and that those constituted notes from a meeting with the president. He was first unable to remember "which president" it was. When the prosecutor insisted, he confirmed that those were the notes from a meeting with Milosevic.

According to the prosecutor, this is yet another piece of evidence about the plans for the operation to exhume in secret the mass graves in Kosovo and transfer the remains of the civilian victims to "secondary graves" in Batajnica and other locations in Central Serbia. General Stevanovic has another interpretation of his notes.

“Someone from the state or military security service," Stevanovic claims, "warned about the perfidious activities of the KLA terrorists, who removed the victims of their crimes and their dead, burying them in mass graves to pin the blame on the VJ or MUP." The witness was unable to explain to prosecutor how the "perfidious KLA" was able to move the bodies dug up from a mass grave in the MUP training area in Prizren to a mass grave in the MUP training area in Batajnica.

On a preceding page of his diary, General Stevanovic jotted down the following, in the entry for 3 May 1999: "About 2,000 liquidated; 900,000 left the country; 1,000 terrorists remain; 300,000 civilians remain."

When he finally confirmed that the handwriting was his – it took an intervention by Judge Bonomy for him to do that – Stevanovic noted that "a wrong term was unwisely used" in that note. It should not be interpreted "as physical liquidation or pre-meditated murder of terrorists, but as the liquidation or elimination of terrorism". The witness tried to interpret in the same way a document from the police station in Pec, showed to him by the prosecutor, where a plan for an ambush to "neutralize a group of terrorists and their liquidation" is set out.

The prosecutor put it to the witness several times today that he was "ready to lie in order to protect this accused." The witness categorically denied this claim.

General Obrad Stevanovic's marathon testimony will continue next week.