VERBS MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
When Milosevic's defense witness said that the terrorists in Kosovo had "opened fire at the police" from their strongholds, the judges wanted him to corroborate his statement by quoting a participant or eyewitness of the event, as in their view this was a "key issue". The witness says he "can't remember any such statement" while Milosevic points out that this is all a "confusion" because it was not said that the "terrorists opened fire, but that they were opening fire."
Slobodan Milosevic in the courtroom
During his direct examination of police inspector Dragan Jasovic in late April, prosecutor Geoffrey Nice accepted the claim that 30 of the 40 victims from Racak were mentioned in the police documents brought by the witness as members or collaborators of the KLA.
As Jasovic was a late addition to Milosevic's witness list, his cross-examination was put off in order to give the prosecutor time to investigate the credibility of the documents his testimony was based on. Those are mostly statements made by Kosovo Albanians that Jasovic interrogated in 1998 and 1999 about KLA activities in the Racak area.
Today, on the second day of his cross-examination, prosecutor Nice presented the argument that the purpose of Jasovic's documents was to "cover up or find excuses for the crime" committed, according to the indictment, on 15 January 1999 in the Racak village in Kosovo. The prosecutor managed to obtain statements from several Kosovo Albanians interrogated by Jasovic. They either deny ever having said what’s stated in the documents, or claim they signed them under duress, because they were beaten or subjected to electro-shocks. Jasovic denies the allegations and says he understands why those people now deny what they told him, "otherwise they and their families would have problems."
The prosecutor noted that only people from one of the two houses where the villagers in Racak took shelter after the attack were in fact on Jasovic's list of "KLA terrorists". According to Nice, this fact is "unusual." When they were discovered in their shelter by the police, the prosecution alleges the police ordered both groups to walk towards a ditch. One group managed to escape; others were killed in the ditch. Jasovic's list of terrorists includes the names of persons killed there, one of them a 77-year-old man, but not the names of those who had fled. The witness was unable to explain this "unusual fact."
In addition to the statements of Albanians who have been interrogated by the police, the prosecutor quoted parts from statements of persons he called "potential witnesses". Some of them are apparently former Jasovic's colleagues and police insiders. One such statement notes that Bogoljub Janicevic, police chief in Urosevac, ordered investigative judge Danica Marinkovic not to start her investigation in Racak until she received further orders from him, and that police general Vlastimir Djordjevic and an unidentified person from the State Security Sector were in the police station in Stimlje with Janicevic on the day of the incident in Racak.
When Jasovic said in a response to a prosecutor's question that the terrorists had "opened fire at the police" from their strongholds, the judges wanted him to corroborate his statement by quoting a participant or eyewitness of the event, as in their view this was a "key issue". The witness says he "can't remember any such statement" since "a long time has passed", but he knows that "according to their mission, KLA members were opening fire on the police since their goal was an independent Kosovo." The judges admitted they could not understand the witness and that they were "confused" by his responses. Milosevic pointed that the confusion arose because Jasovic did not say that the "terrorists opened fire, but that they were opening fire."
The judges ordered the review of the tapes from today's hearing before Jasovic continues his testimony in order to determine what the witness actually said.
- Case : Milosevic Slobodan - "Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia"
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- 2005-06-17 INSPECTOR JASOVIC'S ORDEAL
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- 2005-06-21 PROSECUTOR CALLS FOR JASOVIC DOCUMENTS TO BE REJECTED