Milosevic on Trial
[Sorry, the video for this story has expired, but you can still read the transcript below. ]
GABY RADO : This trial always promised surprises and a clashes of wills between Slobodan Milosevic and the judges, and so it turned out. With just half an hour to go before the end of this afternoon’s session, the former President of Yugoslavia disdainfully challenged both the legality of the War Crimes Tribunal, and the even- handedness of the men sitting in judgment on him.
SPOKESMAN: Mr. Milosevic, it’s now your opportunity to address the chamber.
SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC (Translated): I challenge the very legality of this tribunal, because it was not set up on the basis of the law. The Security Council could not transfer the right that it does not have to this tribunal, and therefore, this tribunal does not have the competence to try.
GABY RADO: Without pausing, the man charged with violating the human rights of hundreds of thousands of people in the Balkans then claimed his own rights had been violated when he was arrested and extradited to the Hague.
SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC (Translated ): You were duty bound to call a hearing with respect to the unlawful arrest that took place on my… Over my person, and with respect to the fact that I was brought here on the basis of a crime having been committed. The prosecution has orchestrated a media campaign that is being waged and organized. It is a parallel trial through the media, which along with this unlawful tribunal, are there to play the role of a parallel lynch process.
SPOKESMAN: I’m going to interrupt you.
GABY RADO: At that stage, the British judge, Richard May, cut off Mr. Milosevic’s microphone to ask a question. Later he dismissed the former President’s complaints.
RICHARD MAY: Mr. Milosevic, you indicated earlier that you wanted to make your submissions tomorrow. That’s apparently not the case, because you wanted to address us today. But the matters on which you are choosing to address us are matters upon which we have already ruled. As you would know, if you had taken the trouble to read our decisions, you had the right of appeal; you did not take it. The matters, therefore, have all been dealt with; and your views about the tribunal are now completely irrelevant as far as these proceedings are concerned.
SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC ( Translated ): I’ll just begin…
RICHARD MAY: Prosecutor, there is one matter…
GABY RADO: Mr. Milosevic was cut off for a second time just as he appeared to be continuing.
GABY RADO: Earlier, the prosecution showed the court ITN (Independent Television News) footage of one of the notorious detention camps for Muslims in northern Bosnia. It was intended to demonstrate that there was a criminal enterprise led by Slobodan Milosevic to rid areas of former Yugoslavia of non-Serbs.
SPOKESMAN: This case is about persecution in many forms of civilians on a widespread and systematic scale.
GABY RADO: The prosecution ended its opening statement by detailing a number of atrocities committed against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Highlighted was the massacre of more than 40 members of the Berisha family in a cafe at Suha Reka.
SPOKESMAN: Not everyone was killed outright. The few who survived lived to provide the evidence you will hear or read about during this case.
GABY RADO: The murders and the subsequent cover-up were the subject of a report on Monday night’s Channel 4 news.
WOMAN (Translated ): They started shooting at us with whatever they could lay their hands on in the cafe where we were: Guns, grenades. My children were there with me. I had my little son with me. He was hurt, so I jumped on top of him. My other two children were further away.
GABY RADO: Witnesses with similar harrowing experiences will confront the former Yugoslav leader in the months to come. So Slobodan Milosevic is due to start his response to the charges against him tomorrow. His main arguments are likely to be political ones. He will claim that the West knew and approved of what he’ll say were his attempts to stop the breakup of Yugoslavia in the ’90s, and he’ll say that his war in Kosovo was a fight against terrorism.