|MILOSEVIC ON TRIAL|
July 3, 2001
A defiant Slobodan Milosevic refuses to enter a plea before the International War Crimes Tribunal.
|JIM LEHRER: Now, three perspectives on what's going on there. Nancy Paterson is a former senior trial attorney at the International War Crimes Tribunal. She helped lead the Milosevic investigation and co-authored the indictment. James Hooper is a former Foreign Service officer who's now managing director of the Public International law and policy group. That's a nongovernmental organization that focuses on conflict prevention in the Balkans. Dusko Doder is co-author of the biography "Milosevic." He's a former Washington Post correspondent who has reported extensively from Yugoslavia. Dusko Doder, was that the real Milosevic we saw in action there?|
|A martyr to history|
DUSKO DODER: Yeah, I think this is an arrogant former dictator. Also a very clever tactician who has done something... Probably the best course of defense for him at this point was to put the ball in the court's court, so to speak.
JIM LEHRER: Essentially Ms. Paterson, from his point of view this is a political event, not a court of justice?
NANCY PATERSON: Well, that seems to be what he's saying. Unfortunately he needs to realize that Judge May and the other judges are the people that will be deciding whether he's guilty or not. He might be better advised to show the court a little bit more respect than he did today.
JIM LEHRER: How did you read what he did today, Mr. Hooper, what he's up to at least?
JAMES HOOPER: Well, he's trying to show first of all that the court should be on trial, that it's illegitimate, not him, even though he signed the Dayton peace agreement which requires cooperation with the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal. Secondly he wants to show that NATO committed genocide, again not him, even though the bodies that are being dug up now by the Serbian authorities outside Belgrade of Kosovo Albanians including children, according to witnesses, you know, these deaths were caused by his own forces. Third, he's trying to show that the Serbian reformers and the new democratic forces who have taken charge in Serbia are actually lackeys of NATO and trying to rally public opinion behind this as the court trial unfolds.
JIM LEHRER: Dusko Doder, should we expect this approach to continue? I mean, in other words, what we saw today, a defiant man, not going to enter into this game, is that what he's likely to continue to do?
DUSKO DODER: Absolutely. I think, you know, he was delivered to the Hague on June 29, which is an auspicious date. On that day was the battle of Kosovo. On that day Arch Duke Ferdinand was assassinated which led to World War I. On that day Milosevic himself began a campaign to destroy Yugoslavia in 1989. What you see is a guy who is playing trying to go down in history being a martyr. The foreigners are going to try him; it's an illegal court. What I'm afraid of is what we have here is sort of like an Al Capone thing, you know. We have a guy, I'm pretty sure that he's guilty. I've done a book so I know that he's guilty. But you have to prove it. We can't get him on tax evasion. You have to prove it. I think....
JIM LEHRER: For those who don't remember what happened, Al Capone was alleged to have been behind many, many murders but he finally went to federal prison for income tax evasion and that's where he died in prison. He was a mobster from Chicago. You think that's what may happen here with Milosevic.
DUSKO DODER: I'm afraid so because the way I read the indictment it's rather weak. I think the real crimes are committed in Kosovo... In Croatia and Bosnia much earlier. I think the time frame, the beginning of the Kosovo war and what happens during the war are much shakier grounds. The indictment was made at a time of great sort of hysteria during the war when we were talking about, you know, thousands and hundreds of thousands of people missing. The State Department said 250,000.
JIM LEHRER: Kosovo Albanians.
DUSKO DODER: Kosovo Albanians missing and feared dead. In the end the indictment has about 600 people dead. The Red Cross has about 2700. I'm sure there are more. But the point is that we have to prove it. It's a very important thing because I think he has to be brought to justice. And convincingly so.
|Not an easy case|
JIM LEHRER: All right. You helped draft this indictment. Do you, first of all, agree with Dusko Doder it's a weak indictment and second, if you don't, what's it going to take to convict this man and is the evidence there to do it?
NANCY PATERSON: Well, of course, I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Doder. We worked very hard on the indictment. He's right. We were forced to write it while the war was going on. We produced it in a period of 52 days, which is an extraordinarily short period of time.
JIM LEHRER: Why did you have to do it during the war? Why didn't you wait?
NANCY PATERSON: We could have waited but then Prosecutor Judge O. Bore for a variety of reasons felt that it was important to proceed. I think that there may... I can't speak for her, but there may in fact have been some pressure from a variety of different sources.
JIM LEHRER: The idea to label what was going on now, a war crime, was considered to be an important influence, correct?
NANCY PATERSON: Yes, I believe so.
JIM LEHRER: Sure.
NANCY PATERSON: There was, you know, some hope, I think, that by issuing the indictment it might bring some of the crimes to an end, encourage them to stop what was going on. We didn't presume to think that it would necessarily stop the war itself. But we hoped it might stop some of the crimes.
JIM LEHRER: I interrupted you. What's involved now in proving these charges against him? And do you believe that can be done?
NANCY PATERSON: Well absolutely I believe they can be done. Mr. Doder is correct; it will be a challenge. It's not an easy case. It's what's called a command responsibility case. So what they are going to have to do is prove the chain of command from Milosevic as the president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia through those under his chain down to the people that committed the actual crimes on the ground. But if you read the indictment closely, he's charged under two theories.
There's the Du Joura theory in which you would look to the constitution and the different laws of the country in which you could see he was the president, he was the commander in chief, he was in charge of the army, and had authority over the police. But we also allege
JIM LEHRER: Excuse me. So even if you cannot prove that on such-and-such a day at 1:10 a.m. in Belgrade he gave the order to commit these crimes, if you can prove there was a chain of control in law, then you might be able to make you might be able to get a conviction on those grounds?
NANCY PATERSON: Right. There's two different ways we can prove guilt at the tribunal. One is through direct responsibility. Someone who actually pulled the trigger and committed the murder and the other is through what's called command responsibility, and in those situations we have to prove that Mr. Milosevic knew or had reason to know that the crimes were being committed or were about to be committed and that he then had the duty to either stop the crimes, prevent them from being committed or after they had been committed to investigate and punish the perpetrators of the crimes.
JIM LEHRER: You don't have to prove that it was his idea in the beginning and that he ordered them.
NANCY PATERSON: No we do not. Obviously we're not going to prove that he himself committed any of the crimes. We're not alleging that he shot and killed anyone or anything like that.
|Sufficient material to succeed|
JIM LEHRER: Mr. Hooper, how do you see the potential ability of the prosecutors to prove this case against this man?
JAMES HOOPER: Well, they've said they're going to add information and indictments from Bosnia and Croatia. I think that will strengthen their case because I think there is perhaps more evidence from there, but also as bodies are being dug up, I repeat, in Serbia, I think there is going to be perhaps new evidence that will come to light to support the indictment, and that added with what's already in the indictment plus what we've got, what I think the prosecutor is going to add in on Bosnia and Croatia, I think there's going to be sufficient material to succeed in this case.
JIM LEHRER: Dusko Doder, beyond the legalities and the evidence that is actually presented before the court, you add that plus however Milosevic plays it -- in other words, he refuses to participate or whatever. Is there a standard in the world's mind that also must be met here? We bring this man before an International War Crimes Tribunal. It's a higher standard than just an ordinary court proceeding.
DUSKO DODER: I think the standard must be high because it's a very important event. Dictators who do these things cannot get away with it. But you have to make a convincing case. I would take exception to what he said because, you know, we have bodies in Belgrade, and the Belgrade government is now eager to provide evidence against Milosevic because they've delivered him.
So we are told that there are 50 Albanian bodies in Belgrade that were brought from Kosovo during the war to Belgrade to be buried. It defies imagination that this is possible. And why would he worry about this? Crimes that he committed are much greater because the entire conception of ethnic cleansing, the chain of command in the beginning of the war, the starting of the war, Vukovar, where they went into the hospital and killed the patients....
JIM LEHRER: Only because they were Albanians.
DUSKO DODER: No they were Croats.
JIM LEHRER: In Croatia, sorry.
DUSKO DODER: And there was ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, where Muslim or Croat or whatever. So I think that his crimes are great. I think that we can get... Karadzic and Mladic have to be apprehended and brought to testify too because these are accomplices.
JIM LEHRER: And they're still at large. They're not in custody.
DUSKO DODER: But they are in the American zone. They could have been picked up. But the problem is that this guy leaves no paper trail. Several of the key executioners of his policy like the deputy interior minister, Arkan, for example, the notorious war lord, they have all been killed, assassinated. But there are still people in Belgrade. I think the court should cooperate with Belgrade, involve Belgrade authorities to do justice.
|Insuring fairness and validity|
JIM LEHRER: Sounds like a big job.
NANCY PATERSON: Well, yes, it is. Certainly it is being made somewhat easier these days by the fact that the government in Belgrade is cooperating. In this case it is going to be important to have that cooperation.
JIM LEHRER: What if... Speaking of cooperation, what if Milosevic continues to not cooperate and doesn't enter a plea, does not really actively defend himself and defiantly says, "I don't acknowledge what's going on here" -- will that hurt the impact or the validity of a verdict if it does come?
NANCY PATERSON: Well, I think it's something that will give the court concern because obviously it's in everyone's interest that it be seen that Mr. Milosevic receive a fair trial, not that they simply go through the motions but that every effort is made to make sure that he gets all the rights that are due to him. And I think anyone that has ever prosecuted a case with a defendant who is defending himself knows that it's very difficult.
So the judges will be watching out to make very sure that if he's going to continue with this approach that he's fully informed of the implications of that, that he knows how dangerous that could be from a legal perspective. The prosecution also is going to be very careful because obviously they're not going to want the case to be overturned on appeal and have to try the case a second time, so they're going to want to make sure that everything is done correctly the first time.
So I think everyone will be treading very lightly to make sure that all the rights are respected. But at the end of the day Mr. Milosevic has the absolute right to proceed with this plan if that's what he chooses to do.
JIM LEHRER: Mr. Hooper, there is a huge public opinion jury out there throughout the world, is there not? I mean going back to Dusko Doder's point that this is a dictator being tried for committing war crimes, and it must be whatever verdict comes out of this must be perceived by everybody, right, just about everybody as having been a fair trial, as a result of a fair trial?
JAMES HOOPER: Yes, and I think it's most important that people in Serbia perceive it that way. I think there is going to be the rub because the cooperation that we've seen in getting Mr. Milosevic to the Hague has really been from the Serbian republic Prime Minister Jirdic who surrounded himself with very committed democratic reformers -- they've done all the heavy lifting on this. They've provided the cooperation for the tribunal. They're the ones who are at risk if the western assistance that has been promised to Serbia does not come through.
President Kostunica, the federal Yugoslav president, said, "I didn't know that this transfer was going to take place. I'm not aware of it." As he often does, he distanced himself from this. What they are counting on... I think what Mr. Milosevic is counting on is that as the winter comes, western assistance hasn't arrived, the Serbian people become more and more frustrated with democracy, they become willing to listen to him and to his siren song of nationalism or that the war that is beginning in Macedonia really explodes, Macedonia collapses and nationalists from Belgrade to Bulgaria get a new lease on life. He's counting on those kinds of things. We have to make sure that we help the democrats so that the Serbian people see that there is a payoff for cooperating with the West.
JIM LEHRER: And that the trial is perceived to be fair.
JAMES HOOPER: Absolutely.
JIM LEHRER: All along the way. Thank you all three very much.