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Milosevic Arrest

Margaret Warner discusses Milosevic's arrest and where it may lead.

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  • JULIAN MANYON:

    At Slobodan Milosevic's new home, some of his fellow inmates were taking out the rubbish. Behind the walls of Belgrade's central prison, the former president has his own cell with hot and cold water and a private toilet. His lawyer describes him as "exhausted" after several nights without sleep; others say he is bewildered and depressed.

    At police headquarters they displayed an arsenal of weapons which were found in Milosevic's home after his arrest. They included 27 automatic rifles, 40 hand grenades, and a pistol which Milosevic himself is said to have brandished during the siege. Officials claim that Milosevic's supporters were planning some kind of political action.

    (Explosions, screaming)

  • JULIAN MANYON:

    The events of Saturday night, when Milosevic's guards repelled the first attempt to arrest him, have brought more legal problems for the ex-president. He will now be charged with inciting his men to fire on the police, in addition to the principal charge of corruption. But former opposition Vuk Draskovic says that without reference to war crimes, the charges don't go nearly far enough.

  • VUK DRASKOVIC:

    I cannot understand it. They are very completely responsibility for the crimes against human rights. I mean, the biggest crimes Milosevic committed, he must face justice.

  • JULIAN MANYON:

    The calls for Milosevic to be arrested have been fulfilled, but the question of his final punishment has yet to be resolved. The Serbian people are still living with the damage that Slobodan Milosevic's policies produced, and many have welcomed his arrest, but there is still widespread resistance to the idea of sending him to the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, and it will be up to western governments to produce convincing arguments that justice should be meted out in full.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to Margaret Warner.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    For more on the Milosevic arrest, and where it may lead, we turn to: Dusko Doder, co-author of the biography "Milosevic." He's a former "Washington Post" correspondent who has reported extensively from Yugoslavia.

    Charles Ingrao, professor of history at Purdue University. He is currently writing a book about ethnic conflict in central Europe. Both have recently returned from trips to Yugoslavia.And Nina Bang-Jensen, special counsel for the Coalition for International Justice, a private group with offices in Washington and the Hague that assists the international war crimes tribunal in its work. Welcome to all of you. Dusko Doder starting with you. Why did Milosevic finally agree to surrender?

  • DUSKO DODER:

    I think the whole scene had sort of elements of tragic comedy. It was a very slow and dragged-out end to Milosevic. For the last six months you have Milosevic who is no longer president living in the presidential home, the real president living in a two-bedroom apartment downtown. I think that Milosevic knew that he was cornered.

    I think he expected it, and ultimately he was hoping that people would go into the streets and support him. I mean, the man was a bit delusional. He went before the cameras. Nothing happened. Then we had sort of a comic end to this where he vowed to kill himself and his wife and daughter, and then he settled for surrendering provided he's driven in his own limousine by his own driver to jail.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    There have been reports that there was some sort of a deal or he was given some sort of assurances about the kind of trial he'd have and whether or not he'd be taken to the Hague. What do you know about that?

  • DUSKO DODER:

    I know nothing but I'm sure this is what happens because you have to soften him up and tell him that nothing is going to happen to him and get him into jail. That was their purpose. I think these people, you know, his residing in the president's house is symbolic of Serbia post Milosevic because the new government is basically nice, decent people, more or less, who want to do things by the book and they're not quite sure how the people are going to react when they arrest him so they are very careful. No doubt that American pressure on this stiffened their backbone.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    How difficult will it be or how easy to prove the charges? Milosevic issued a written statement today, his lawyer gave it out, in which he denied that he had stolen any money, said any money he had was never for personal use it went to the forces in Bosnia and Croatia. How difficult are these charges going to be to prove?

  • DUSKO DODER:

    There are three kinds of charges that you can level against him. Personally I feel he's guilty on all three counts, but you have to prove them. One is corruption. His entire regime was corrupt. Although he personally, I'm absolutely sure of that, he personally never was interested in money — his family, yes; others and so forth. Second is the charges of domestic terror, ordering political assassination and so forth, which are more likely to be proven than not. The third is war crime charges, which are serious charges. Now, Mr. Milosevic….

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Which have not been leveled yet we should say.

  • DUSKO DODER:

    Yes. But it's very hard to produce evidence on that. We all now what Mr. Milosevic did. I did a book about it where I assembled everything that possibly was available. But you have to get persons who are going to testify and say he ordered me to do this and that. Now what's interesting about Mr. Milosevic is two aspects. One is his style of government. He left no paper trail. It was a one-man band. And he cut across ministerial lines and did things himself. The second thing is that the people that were executors of his policy in Bosnia, in Croatia and in Kosovo, but especially in Bosnia and Croatia, because that's where real crimes were committed have all been rubbed out, most of them. You have the deputy foreign minister, the deputy interior minister, the interior minister and Arkan who was a notorious military leader. All of them have disappeared slowly. Now, there are several who do exist.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    All right. Let me bring Mr. Ingrao in here. Professor Ingrao, in also this statement that was released on Milosevic's behalf today he blamed his arrest on this March 31 deadline that was imposed by the U.S. Congress for the new government there to cooperate with the war crimes tribunal or face a cut-off of aid. Do you have any doubt that that was the trigger, the instigating factor here?

  • CHARLES INGRAO:

    It was the decisive factor. Even though I think we can state with some assurance that that deadline was not hard and fast. Had the Serbian government not arrested Milosevic by Friday or Saturday, then we simply would have waited another week, another month, to certify the regime. Similarly now that they've met that deadline, that isn't the end of the game. Serbia has a long path to go on now to be integrated into the European Community, to receive a steady infusion of financial aid. And at any step between now and, let's say, the end of this year, if they falter in that, it becomes more of a treadmill; in other words, we will continue to certify so long as they continue to make progress towards these various goals we've set.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Ms. Bang-Jensen today the State Department did certify that the cooperation was enough even though he's not being turned over to the Hague or there's no talk of that yet, this was enough to let the aid continue. Was that the right decision?

  • NINA BANG-JENSEN:

    He was a disappointment. One would have preferred if they left all the conditionalities on the table still. Clearly these conditionalities were central to making this decision. They did, however, I thought, significantly say that they would withdraw support, withhold support for the donor's conference if certain things weren't happening, concrete things happening that would signal cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal. They didn't specify but it seems clear to me that this new administration — given President Bush's very strong statement this past weekend — is committed to getting him there.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Did you feel that the statement that was issued… Are you saying that it looks like there's enough conditionality to issue more leverage.

  • NINA BANG-JENSEN:

    It's entirely up to the state department and whether it wants to, as these votes come up in the spring at the international financial institutions, whether it wants to sit with a new government and particularly the good reformers, the true reformers in if new government and say we're here to help you, give us a road map. Show us what can be done by these dates and reward them where progress is made and obviously withhold the U.S. votes at the international financial institutions where credit is not due.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Professor, explain for us and forgive me if you did this earlier, I was having a little trouble hearing your very first answer. Explain for us why the Kostunica government didn't immediately send him on to the Hague.

  • CHARLES INGRAO:

    Well, I think we have to recognize that the democratic coalition is really a kaleidoscope of different groups. Kostunica represents one of the more nationalistic and anti-western groups although I wouldn't put too much in anti-western here. There are other groups, I think the majority, in fact, the prime minister of Serbia is a good example of people who do want to send him to the Hague but this is a coalition that has to hold together to stay in power. And so what we're seeing is behind the scenes constant pressure to be more compliant and Kostunica, every week he goes on media and he condemns the Hague tribunal, but behind the scenes there are people — as Nina has suggested — who are pressing him and they are confident that ultimately they will win the day.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    So, Ms. Bang-Jensen, are you saying that you think this is the right degree of pressure, not too overt, for instance, the State Department didn't say today and ultimately they must turn him over. They're calibrating this right?

  • NINA BANG-JENSEN:

    No I would say they're a little too modest here. If they followed what the law says, what the law that was passed on a bipartisan basis by Congress. it would have been clear that they either would have had to postpone the certification or deny it. Postponement was the better thing to do at this point. Say good job, this is tremendous. You took some risks but more needs to be done. Centrally they need to commit, commit in a very public way that they're going to inevitably because it is inevitable hand Milosevic and 14 other indictees to the Hague.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Dusko Doder, you pointed out that when Milosevic was arrested this weekend the public did not rise up as he had hoped. Where do you think the Serb public is now on the whole question of turning him over to the Hague though and cooperating with that tribunal?

  • DUSKO DODER:

    In my experience, and I was there last month, I haven't met a person who didn't favor Milosevic to go to jail. On the question of whether to be returned to the Hague or not, I think ordinary people favor returning him to the Hague, the intellectuals don't because the intellectuals basically have been implicated in Milosevic's venture. But I would take exception to what was said here because I think that this is an opportunity for the Serb people to cleanse themselves, and I think they should be given an opportunity to do that and come to terms with their nasty past rather than put pressure on them constantly to say you bad boys you do this and this and this otherwise we don't give you money.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    And are you saying that having him put on trial in Serbia or Yugoslavia will accomplish that, that the Serb public will take part in a kind of, I don't know, national consciousness raising about what really went on and their own complicity?

  • DUSKO DODER:

    There's an opportunity. We have to give them a chance. I think on the War Crimes Trial it's very… Maybe there are some senior officials in the military who will step forward now that Milosevic is in jail. Certainly if you get Karadzic, Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, he was receiving directly orders from Milosevic during the Bosnia war. We know that for a fact. He could implicate him. Just hearsay won't do anything.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    I know you're in touch with people over there by phone a lot. What's your understanding about the possibility that the charges against him in Serbia — which now really are just corruption — are going to be expanded to include some of the things that Mr. Doder is talking about.

  • CHARLES INGRAO:

    Yes, virtually everybody I speak with feels that the charges will be expanded but they have to do it in a way where they prepare the Serbian people. One colleague talked about having a pyramid where Milosevic is at the top of the pyramid and now we're deconstructing this pyramid.

    We'll get to the people around him — some of whom who will cooperate with the proceedings. As more and more of his crimes become evident he will be so discredited that as we get deeper down it will be possible for the Serbian people to support his delivery to the Hague. But let me say I really liked the comment that Dusko. Doder just gave — talking about the way we've been beating up on the Serbia people. I feel very uncomfortable as an American seeing the film on Saturday night of Serbian forces attacking this arsenal of weapons, these bodyguards of Milosevic.

    This is a fledgling democracy that had to have the courage to go after Milosevic when he was very well protected with risk to human life. At the same time, the strongest democracy in the world and the president of that democracy for five years has refused to take similar action against Radovan Karadzic, who has been under the noses of KFOR NATO forces for five years and where our own people — U.S. military — have basically stood in the way of going after him. I would like to know what the Pentagon feels about when they see the Serbs showing the courage they did and we have been running away from Karadzic for five years. How can we not feel arrogant when they take that kind of an approach?

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Ms. Bang-Jensen your thoughts on that point or the point Dusko Doder made about what the Serb people have to go through.

  • NINA BANG-JENSEN:

    The first point — first of all, the polls indicate that the Serb people are way ahead of leaders. 66% of the people would support the transfer of Milosevic or Serbian — to the Hague. With the… charges to include war crimes there's no indication from the leadership that they are confronting these issues and they're confronting their past. It's only people on the outside meaning Serbs within the society there who are making these claims who are trying to push the society to do this. Kostunica quite to the contrary still portrays Serbia as a victim. What is going to happen when they have war crimes charges here? Are the victims from Kosovo going to come? Are the victims from Bosnia and Croatia going to come? I really don't think so. I mean, the situation in Belgrade is very insecure. There were two assassinations attempts in a month. How secure are these witnesses — and what kinds of war crimes trial can you have if you don't have the victims there?

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    A quick response from you Professor on whether Serbia can hold a war crimes trial of Milosevic.

    CHARLES INGRAO Nina raises a good point here. But I would suggest that even though it would be best if all the war criminals could be delivered to the Hague today, the fact is that we are engaging in another process here. Serbia really is going to need time to make the kind of cultural transition it needs to confront its recent past. And sending Milosevic to the Hague right now probably would delegitimize any proceedings there. Trying him in Belgrade with Serbian prosecutors and incrementally destroying his credibility and his following, it only stands at 15% right now anyway, will then prepare the way for these people who are telling me that they really do want the charges expanded and they do want to send him to the Hague. So I think we're looking at a process but — as Nina has said — there's conditionality here. We are not going to continue to support Serbia as it's rebuilding its cup try, its infrastructure and establishing democratic traditions. We're not going to support that unless it continues to make progress — be patient.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Thank you very much. We have to leave it there. Thank you all three.

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