A COMMAND OF MILOSEVIC'S PRIVATE CLUB?
According to the prosecutor, Milosevic set up the Joint Kosovo Command in 1998 in order to "bypass the legal chain of command" and to place the military and the police under the control of the man he trusted, Nikola Sainovic. General Bozidar Delic claims, however, that the Joint Command is "a misnomer for a coordination body" that had no command authority
Bozidar Delic, defense witness for Milosevic
The prosecutor's claim that in 1998 and 1999 the Joint Command functioned in Kosovo as "a private club of this accused" is absolutely unacceptable, General Bozidar Delic said today during his re-direct examination by Slobodan Milosevic. The re-direct has not been completed and will continue after the summer recess. The prosecutor also reserves the right to seek leave for additional cross-examination once he receives the translations of the numerous military documents the accused has tendered into evidence through General Delic.
Among the documents is an order issued by the Joint Command for Kosovo and Metohija dated 23 March 1999, one day before the start of the NATO air campaign. Military and police units are ordered to launch a comprehensive operation to block and destroy "Siptar terrorist forces" in the area of Orahovac, Suva Reka and Velika Krusa. In the next few days, as the prosecutor noted during the cross-examination, the VJ and Serbian MUP units committed a number of crimes in the villages of Bela Crkva, Suva Reka, Celina, Velika Krusa, Landovica and other locations identified in the indictment, as they carried out the order. Many people were killed – claims were made that they were KLA members. There were not prisoners.
General Delic, who commanded the 549 Motorized Brigade, with the HQ in Prizren, denies that any crimes were committed. Not only that, he denies that the Joint Command issued any orders or exercised command. All this despite the fact that the last line of the order of 23 March 1999 states verbatim, "The Joint Command for Kosovo and Metohija shall have command and control over all the forces."
According to the prosecutor, Milosevic set up the Joint Command in 1998 in order to "bypass the legal chain of command" and to place the military and the police under the control of the man he trusted, Nikola Sainovic. General Bozidar Delic claims, however, that the Joint Command is "a misnomer for a coordination body", that the Command “never had its address, telephone number or commander," and that the politicians on it mostly dealt with "civil affairs and liaison with the monitoring and diplomatic missions, never with military matter." He does not deny that it says that the Joint Command shall have command and control over the operation, but he claims that he and his unit were under the command of the Pristina Corps commander, General Nebojsa Pavkovic.
According to prosecutor Geoffrey Nice, the witness denies the existence of the Joint Command because he is aware of the fact that he "acted unlawfully" as he carried out its orders. General Delic resolutely rejected such suggestions.
The trial of Slobodan Milosevic will continue on 17 August. As the accused announced today, Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party, will be one of the first witnesses.
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