The Guardian February 27, 2002


Milosevic takes the offensive

Slobodan Milosevic has taken the offensive against his Hague prosecutors 
who have accused him of masterminding atrocities in Croatia, Bosnia and 
Kosovo in the 1990s. He denounced his trial as political and condemned the 
78-day bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO in 1999.

"It was obviously the goal and objective [of NATO] to terrorise and break 
down the whole Yugoslav nation. The goal in practical terms was the nation 
as a whole", said Milosevic.

He showed a German documentary critical of NATO's bombing campaign against 
Yugoslavia and many photographs of severed heads, charred bodies and 
blasted buildings, which were the consequences of NATO's bombing.

"The bombing of civilian targets was merciless. That was the big 
characteristic. The more suffering, the more civilians (killed) the 
better", he said.

Milosevic charged that the targeting of civilians was a deliberate move to 
create refugees from Kosovo.

"The movement of Albanians from Kosovo was strategically important for the 
Clinton administration." Their flight provided "confirmation and 
justification for what they were doing."

NATO bombs hit a column of ethnic Albanian refugees in April 1999 because 
they sought to return to their village. "A more horrific message could not 
have been sent to Albanians that were returning to their village", he said.

"We intercepted communication between the pilot and his command centre. The 
pilot says that it's not a military column and that he can see peasants and 
tractors. And the response was 'Carry out your orders.'"

Milosevic described the destruction of villages, named the victims and 
outlined their ages and the circumstances of their deaths.

Killed by NATO

"This is the corpse of a child, Kaitomi Kostrate from the village of ... 
born in 19... While he was tending to a field he was killed by NATO bombs", 
he said.

"They were targeting peasants plowing their fields outside their village", 
said Milosevic.

"This entire war was pointless and it constitutes a crime. Those who come 
to kill children who are asleep can hardly sleep peacefully."

Slobodan Milosevic accused the West of spreading an "ocean of lies".

"All the laws of international law and the statutes of NATO were 
infringed", he told the court.

Facing the judges, Milosevic accused them of "encouraging terrorism" in the 
Balkans. He said that the NATO-led force in Kosovo (the so-called 
peacekeeping force (KFOR) helped ethnic Albanians of the fascist Kosovo 
Liberation Army (KLA) carry out revenge attacks on Serbs and other 
minorities when they entered the province in June 1999.

Committing crimes

"There is evidence of direct cooperation in committing these crimes between 
the occupying troops ... and, on the other hand, the KLA that continued to 
loot, plunder and killed everybody and everything that was not Albanian", 
he said.

"Under their protection, 3000 Serbs-mostly Serbs-were killed." Milosevic 
compared the destruction of Serb Orthodox churches in Kosovo to the 
demolition of giant Buddha statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban regime.

Such "vandalism" also occurred when churches were destroyed in Kosovo 
"under the protection of the United Nations [and] in the presence of their 
troops. The gravest kind of crimes committed by Albanian terrorists 
occurred with the benevolent attitude of KFOR", he said.

In further confirmation of the illegality of the Hague court, John 
Laughland, journalist of the British "Guardian Weekly", under the headline, 
"This is not justice", wrote:

"Because its legal basis is so dubious, the international criminal 
tribunal' s [attempt] to present itself as the successor to the 
international military tribunal which tried the Nazi leaders at Nuremberg 
in 1946 ... has as little right to set up a court as it does to raise 
taxes. Its defenders probably think that a quick reference to Hitler can 
settle the matter. However, The Hague does not embody the legal principles 
established and consolidated at Nuremberg. It embodies instead their 
complete destruction."

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