Although he finds "the author disgusting", Colonel Vlatko Vukovic read the book As Seen As Told, finding nothing accurate in it. Milosevic strives to rehabilitate his witness and the term "cleansing"

Vlatko Vukovic, defense witness for MilosevicVlatko Vukovic, defense witness for Milosevic

In his statement to the VJ Commission for the Cooperation with the ICTY, Colonel Vlatko Vukovic wrote that he had not read the book As Seen As Told to the end because he found "the author disgusting" (he erroneously believed that it was written by Natasa Kandic). Today, in his re-direct examination by the accused Milosevic, he admitted that he had read the "disgusting book" through. It is a compilation of statements given to OSCE observers by refugees and victims of crimes committed in Kosovo in 1999. The Serbian language version was published by the International Law Centre.

After Colonel Vukovic admitted he had read the book in its entirety, Milosevic asked him, "Is there any accurate information in that book?" Vukovic answered categorically, "Nothing". Judge Bonomy reacted to the exchange, noting that both the question and answer were "pointless", because the witness "would have had to been in every location in Kosovo at every point in time" in order to be able to know whether the things described in the book really happened.

Milosevic, however, does not consider it "pointless". The witness offered to explain why his view of the book was so negative using the way in which religions are described in the book as an example. The judges allowed him to do so, even though this topic had not been discussed in the cross-examination. The witness described himself as an "atheist and a godless person"; he then noted that the Serbian Orthodox Church was described in the book as having contributed to the escalation of nationalism and supported Milosevic in his "campaign for Greater Serbia". The witness contends that this is not correct, because, as he said, it is a well-known fact that the Serbian orthodox Church is "the most moderate" of all the churches in the Balkans and that it constantly "called for peace, cooperation and tolerance". On the other hand, the book states that "religious identification is not particularly strong among Kosovo Albanians, who are mostly of Islamic faith". According to Colonel Vukovic, this is also wrong, because "Islamic fundamentalism is the greatest source of evil and terrorism". Judge Bonomy distanced himself from the arguments of Milosevic's defense witness, saying he did accept such qualifications of Muslims.

In the re-direct examination, Milosevic tried to rehabilitate his witness and to give him an opportunity to give additional explanations for the term "cleansing" found in his 1999 War Logbook and the actual meaning of the word. The witness repeated the explanation he gave in his cross-examination: that the entry about the "cleansing of Bela Crkva" on 25 March 1999 was written in the War Logbook by his deputy. He "automatically copied" the task given to the unit commanded by Colonel Vukovic in the order for the anti-terrorist action there.

As in the order, the unit was tasked with carrying out "a vigorous search of the village of Bela Crkva", Judge Bonomy found it strange that Vukovic's deputy – who was in the headquarters, not in the field – could assume that the terrorists would be located and "cleansed" during the search, as he wrote in the War Logbook. Noting that the claims about automatic "copying of the orders" in the War Logbook raised doubts that the "mission analyses" brought to The Hague by Colonel Vukovic and other Milosevic's witnesses were "nothing but copies of initial plans", Judge Bonomy said this line of defense "was not very helpful for the case of the accused".

The Slobodan Milosevic trial will continue on Wednesday, 9 November.