MILOSEVIC “ELIMINATES” ONE PROSECUTION WITNESS AFTER ANOTHER
According to General Bozidar Delic, the engagement of more than 600 troops with 6 tanks and an unknown number of police does not constitute "disproportionate force" for a showdown with a group of 25-30 terrorists. After all, "Americans dump 15-ton bombs on the terrorists in Afghanistan", as Milosevic's defense witness said.
Slobodan Milosevic in the courtroom
On the fourth day of the testimony of General Bozidar Delic, who commanded the 549 Motorized Brigade of the VJ in Kosovo during the conflict, Slobodan Milosevic managed to "eliminate yet another witness called by Mr. Nice as entirely false", as he said.
This witness is a former soldier who served in General Delic's unit. He testified as a protected witness K-41 in September 2002. He spoke about the joint VJ/MUP operation in the area of the village of Jeskovo in mid-March 1999. According to him, about 700 soldiers with tanks and anti-aircraft guns, from which fire was opened, took part in the operation. The soldiers were told that only terrorists remained in the village, no civilians, and they were ordered to "clean up", witness K-41 said. He personally saw 10 dead persons in civilians clothes. In his opinion, there were about 30 dead in the village.
General Delic claims this is all "totally untrue". He said the VJ/MUP operation was monitored by three Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) teams, though from a distance as they could not get close to Jeskovo for safety reasons. The operation ended in late afternoon, and KVM members were thus unable to reach Jeskovo before the next day, when they found the bodies of nine KLA members who had been killed. General Delic thinks that all the terrorists who were in Jeskovo that day were killed, although when the operation was launched, the assessment was that there was a group of between 25 and 30 KLA members.
When the witness confirmed that 611 of his soldiers and 6 tanks had taken part in the operation, with an unknown number of police, the judges asked him whether it seemed to him that this amounted to "disproportionate force" for a showdown with terrorist group of 25-30 members. "Absolutely not," Delic answered emphatically, explaining that it was necessary to block the wider area of Jeskovo to prevent the KLA from sending in the reinforcements. When the judges asked him why six tanks were needed for an operation of this sort, the witness replied that he had received information that there were no civilians in the village and they could thus "open fire on all firing positions", that is, the houses from which the terrorists opened fire on the troops, as he said. He also noted that "in Afghanistan, the Americans drop 15-ton bombs on terrorist strongholds."
Protected witness K-32 testified about the operation in the village of Jeskovo during the prosecution case in the same or similar terms. He was also in the 549 Motorized Brigade. He claims that he was standing close to Commander Delic, at the entrance to the Jeskovo village, when he issued the order: "Don't leave anyone alive". Milosevic seemed to have overlooked his testimony, failing to "eliminate” that witness “as totally false".
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