THE HAGUE, Feb 15: Slobodan Milosevic told his war crimes trial on Friday “genocidal” U.S. forces had been the unwitting ally of Osama bin Laden in Kosovo, and demanded Bill Clinton and other Western leaders come to testify.
Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda was “one of the fundamentalist groups which sent a unit to fight in Kosovo” alongside Muslim Kosovo Albanians aided by the United States against Serb forces in 1998-9, the fallen Yugoslav leader told The Hague tribunal.
“The attacks on New York and Washington show what the terrorism you sponsored looks like when it turns against you,” he said in a speech that ranged across centuries of history and much of the globe, and exhausted court interpreters.
Milosevic, 60, was extradited from Belgrade seven months ago to a jail cell in The Hague. On Tuesday his trial began for crimes against humanity in Kosovo in 1999 and in Croatia in 1991-2, and for genocide in the 1992-5 Bosnian war.
Prosecutors have this week portrayed him as prime mover in a decade of massacres, torture, mass rape and expulsions by Serbs.
In a second day of reply to prosecutors’ opening addresses, he blamed the carnage entirely on his Balkan enemies and NATO. Echoing the language of his indictment, he said the West itself had committed “genocide and crimes against humanity”.
“I’m asking what kind of tribunal this is, if you refuse to try people for these crimes by the leaders and armies of NATO countries,” a coolly pugnacious Milosevic told judges.
On the fourth day of what is forecast to be a marathon case, he insisted the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians who fled Kosovo in 1999 during the NATO air war against Yugoslavia had been driven out not by Serbs but by their fellow Albanians.
The guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) “referred to all Albanians who did not flee Kosovo as traitors,” he said, creating an “illusion of exodus”. “There were hundreds of cameras waiting at the borders to show alleged Serb misdeeds.”
The motive was to justify NATO’s attack, said Milosevic, showing the court pictures of carbonised bodies of civilians killed by NATO bombs in Kosovo and the rest of Serbia in 1999.
CHINESE EMBASSY BOMBING: NATO missiles destroyed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, in what Washington insisted was a mistake by Central Intelligence Agency target planners using an outdated map.
“It is quite clear that (former U.S. president) Clinton wanted to go down in history as the first man to bomb Chinese territory by bombing the Chinese embassy,” Milosevic said. “This was no accident.”
Milosevic accused Germany of setting out to destroy old communist Yugoslavia by its support for Slovenian and Croatian independence, and by secret backing of Albanian “terrorists”.
“The German intelligence service rallied up criminals from all over Europe. They were pushed to Kosovo,” he said.
Bin Laden, meanwhile, used anarchic Albania as a launchpad for violence in the Balkans and elsewhere in Europe, he said.
Some Muslim “terrorists” in Kosovo, had they not been jailed by Serbia, would now be “going in chains to Guantanamo Bay” from Afghanistan instead, the white-haired Milosevic insisted.
“While Americans transport al Qaeda terrorists to Guantanamo...at the same time they demand all Albanian terrorists be freed from prisons in Yugoslavia,” he added.
Accusing NATO of the use of especially lethal cluster bombs, he showed the court a photograph of a Serb woman killed while ploughing her field.
“This is an example of bestiality, targeting people in this way,” he said, adding NATO bombed at night to maximise deaths among sleeping civilians. He showed pictures of shattered hospitals, an old people’s home, buses, houses and workplaces, some strewn with charred and bloodied bodies.—Reuters