INDICTED part 12
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Since the Uzice Corps, like the rest of the JNA, retreated from Bosnia-Herzegovina within the deadline set by the so-called international community, and that while deployed in its area o responsibility it had not been engaged in “military operations,” its role can be qualified solely as a useful projection of force that, albeit temporarily, stopped the wider inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflicts in this area. Therefore the role of the Uzice Corps in “eastern Bosnia” cannot be taken against its commanding officer. More likely, unbiased foreign observers would describe this role as humanitarian.

 

Superior Authority

Paragraph 55 of the Indictment says: Slobodan MILOSEVIC was elected President of the FRY on 15 July 1997, assumed office on 23 July 1997, and remains President as of the date of this indictment.”

Paragraph 56 of the Indictment says: As President of the FRY, Slobodan MILOSEVIC functions as President of the Supreme Defence Council of the FRY. The Supreme Defence Council consists of the President of the FRY and the Presidents of the member republics, Serbia and Montenegro. The Supreme Defence Council decides on the National Defence Plan and issues decisions concerning the VJ. As President of the FRY, Slobodan MILOSEVIC has the power to “order implementation of the National Defence Plan” and commands the VJ in war and peace in compliance with decisions made by the Supreme Defence Council. Slobodan MILOSEVIC, as Supreme Commander of the VJ, performs these duties through “commands, orders and decisions’.”

Paragraph 57 of the Indictment says: “Under the FRY Act on the Armed Forces of Yugoslavia, as Supreme Commander of the VJ, Slobodan MILOSEVIC also exercises command authority over republican and federal police units subordinated to the VJ during a state of imminent threat of war or a state of war. A declaration of imminent threat of war was proclaimed on 23 March 1999, and a state of war on 24 March 1999.

Paragraph 58 of the Indictment says: “In addition to his de jure powers, Slobodan MILOSEVIC exercises extensive de facto control over numerous institutions essential to, or involved in, the conduct of the offences alleged herein. Slobodan MILOSEVIC exercises extensive de facto control over federal institutions nominally under the competence of the Assembly or the Government of the FRY. Slobodan MILOSEVIC also exercises de facto control over functions and institutions nominally under the competence of Serbia and its autonomous provinces, including the Serbian police force. Slobodan MILOSEVIC further exercises de facto control over numerous aspects of the FRY’s political and economic life, particularly the media. Between 1986 and the early 1990s, Slobodan MILOSEVIC progressively acquired de facto control over these federal, republican, provincial and other institutions. He continues to exercise this de facto control to this day.

Paragraph 59 of the Indictment says: “Slobodan MILOSEVIC’s de facto control over Serbian, SFRY, FRY and other state organs has stemmed, in part, from his leadership of the two principal political parties that have ruled in Serbia since 1986, and in the FRY since 1992. From 1986 until 1990, he was Chairman of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the League of Communists in Serbia, then the ruling party in Serbia. In 1990, he was elected President of the Socialist Party of Serbia, the successor party to the League of Communists of Serbia and the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Serbia. The SPS has been the principal ruling party in Serbia and the FRY ever since. Throughout the period of his Presidency of Serbia, from 1990 to 1997, and as the President of the FRY, from 1997 to the present, Slobodan MILOSEVIC has also been the leader of the SPS.”

Paragraph 60 of the Indictment says: “Beginning no later than October 1988, Slobodan MILOSEVIC has exercised de facto control over the ruling and governing institutions of Serbia, including its police force. Beginning no later than October 1988, he has exercised de facto control over Serbia’s two autonomous provinces—Kosovo and Vojvodina—and their representation in federal organs of the SFRY and the FRY. From no later than October 1988 until mid-1998, Slobodan MILOSEVIC also exercised de facto control over the ruling and governing institutions of the Montenegro, including its representation in all federal organs of the SFRY and the FRY.”

COMMENT: All six Paragraphs cited above (55-60) deal with constitutional authority of Slobodan Milosevic as president of the FRY and Chairman of the Supreme Defense Council from July 15, 1997 to May 22, 1999, i.e. the date of the indictment. When it literally cites constitutional powers (e.g. “order implementation of the National Defence Plan” through “commands, orders and decisions”), the Indictment is accurate, and deserves no comment.

However, in paragraphs 58, 59, 60 and 62 the authors stray from legal logic and introduce into their interpretation of constitutional and legal powers of the Yugoslav president a division between de jure and de facto powers, the latter being, in their regard, primary. According to their interpretation, de facto powers enabled Slobodan Milosevic to exert extensive “control over numerous institutions essential to, or involved in, the conduct of the offences alleged herein,” as well as “control over functions and institutions nominally under the competence of Serbia and its autonomous provinces, including the Serbian police force”; “control over numerous aspects of the FRY’s political and economic life, particularly the media”; having, between 1986 and the early 1990s “progressively acquired de facto control over these federal, republican, provincial and other institutions. He continues to exercise this de facto control to this day”, including the “governing institutions of Montenegro, …its representation in all federal organs of the SFRY and the FRY.” Given all these "de facto" powers, the implication is that Slobodan Milosevic would be responsible for acts of his subordinates in the Yugoslav Army and all the police forces, federal and Serbian, which allegedly committed crimes in the province of Kosovo-Metohija since 1998.

In other words, despite all the marking of multi-party democracy instituted in Serbia in 1990 and the FRY from the beginning, their elected and re-elected president has been a dictator who held “de facto” power over all aspects of life and all government institutions. This is the message behind this description of the supposed de jure and de facto powers that Slobodan Milosevic had as president of Serbia and the FRY.

Authors of the Indictment even bothered to “divine” the origins of this “de facto” absolute power and control: Milosevic’s “leadership of the two principal political parties that have ruled in Serbia since 1986, and in the FRY since 1992” (Serbian League of Communists and the Socialist Party of Serbia), as Paragraph 59 indicates.

Reality, however, is markedly different from the social and political landscape of the 1990s FRY painted by the Indictment.

1. When the Socialist Party of Serbia appeared on the political scene in 1990, it was not “the successor party to the League of Communists of Serbia,” but just one of some twenty other political parties and movements (Serbian Renewal Movement [SPO], Serbian Radical Party [SRS], Democratic Party, New Democracy, Serbian Democratic Party, Communist Party of Yugoslavia, New Communist Movement, etc.). The direct “successor” to the League of Communists, both in the financial and ideological sense, was the League of Communists – Movement for Yugoslavia (SK-PJ), which later fragmented. Many former members of the Serbian League of Communists joined the new Socialist Party of Serbia, but their number among the total membership soon became a minority.

2. Until the fall 2000 elections, the SPS has indeed been a leading political party, winning most elections but not all. In the last decade of the 20th century it did not have an absolute parliamentary majority, in Serbia or Yugoslavia, so it formed coalitions and power-sharing arrangements with other parties (SPO, SRS, New Democracy). The balance of power between coalition parties in the Parliament and the government precluded any politician,  including the President of the FRY Slobodan Milosevic, from establishing “de facto” control over “federal, republican, provincial and other institutions.”

3. All the important decisions regarding the national interest were made through referenda, the Federal and the Serbian Parliament, and the Supreme Defense Council; every time, leaders of the opposition parties in the Parliament were consulted. This prevented any individual’s “de facto” control. We cite only some of the more important decisions:

a) rejection of the so-called international mediation to resolve the Kosovo-Metohija crisis in April 1998, was the result of a referendum by the citizens; b) decisions to involve the Yugoslav Army against the terrorist and separatist movement of Kosovo Albanians and “oppose any form of foreign intervention” were reached unanimously by the Supreme Defense Council of the FRY; c) the SDC also discussed (on October 4, 1998) the talks with U.S. Ambassador R. Holbrooke, in which Serbian President Milutinovic took part, as well as the agreement that the talks produced; the platform for the talks was adopted by the FRY Parliament on October 5, 1998; d) the Serbian Parliament adopted the 10 Principles of the Contact Group as a platform for the Rambouillet talks, and e) decisions to declare imminent danger of war on March 23, and to declare a state of war at the outbreak of NATO’s aggression on March 24, 1999, were made by the FRY government based on its constitutional authority.

4. The Indictment’s imputation that Slobodan Milosevic exercised de facto control over governing institutions in Montenegro between 1988 and 1998. Before his election to the FRY presidency (July 1997) Slobodan Milosevic did not have, nor could have, any influence on political and other developments in Montenegro, since he had neither “de jure” nor “de facto” authority in this republic. When he was elected President of the FRY, the SFRY had already been destroyed; separatist movements raging throughout its former territory had not bypassed Montenegro, weakening the federal influence on this republic – and with it the influence of Slobodan Milosevic as the federal President. Since the schism in the ruling Socialist Party of Montenegro, this republic’s “governing institutions” have openly advocated secession and “de facto” acted as a separate, sovereign nation. Under these circumstances, powers of the FRY President have been reduced only to his de jure authority, and even that has been usurped by the Montenegrin authorities. Slobodan Milosevic’s influence in this member of the federation was virtually nil.

5. Paragraph 58 cites a claim of Slobodan Milosevic’s “de facto control over numerous aspects of the FRY’s political and economic life, particularly the media,” which is also far from the truth. Since the introduction of multi-party politics in Serbia and Yugoslavia, i.e. since the appearance of political parties and movements, numerous media – newspapers, magazines, radio and TV – have come into existence. All major opposition papers have their newspapers and magazines. Only the SPS had no such paper until it lost power. Several dailies that have styled themselves independent have been hostile towards the SPS from the start. Without a doubt, foreign donations (for example, a donation from the CIA Balkans Institute in January 1999, within the so-called program for promotion of democracy in Yugoslavia) have played a significant role in the appearance and survival of these media. Slobodan Milosevic could not have had any influence over such actions, let alone “de facto” control.

Therefore, the division of presidential authority into de jure and de facto is really an attempt to present Yugoslavia as a dictatorship. Such a presentation has no basis in reality, and should hence be relegated to the category of low-brow propaganda that certainly does not belong in documents of an international legal institution, which the ICTY claims to be.

Paragraph 61 of the Indictment says: “In significant international negotiations, meetings and conferences since 1989, Slobodan MILOSEVIC has been the primary interlocutor with whom the international community has negotiated. He has negotiated international agreements that have subsequently been implemented within Serbia, the SFRY, the FRY, and elsewhere on the territory of the former SFRY. Among the conferences and international negotiations at which Slobodan MILOSEVIC has been the primary representative of the SFRY and FRY are: The Hague Conference in 1991; the Paris negotiations of March 1993; the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia in January 1993; the Vance-Owen peace plan negotiations between January and May 1993; the Geneva peace talks in the summer of 1993; the Contact Group meeting in June 1994; the negotiations for a cease fire in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 9-14 September 1995; the negotiations to end the NATO bombing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 14-20 September 1995; and the Dayton peace negotiations in November 1995.

COMMENT: Paragraph 61 cites, not very accurately, the main foreign policy involvements of Slobodan Milosevic in dealing with crises in the former SFRY from 1991 to 1995. Citing 1989 as the starting year for such engagements is inaccurate, since Yugoslavia’s foreign policy at the time was formulated by the federal Presidium, Parliament and Executive Council. Given the well-known, constructive and peaceful role of Slobodan Milosevic in all these negotiations, from the 1991 Hague Conference to the 1995 Dayton talks there is nothing incriminating in this paragraph. Quite to the contrary, in all the negotiations cited in the Indictment Slobodan Milosevic was a desirable and notable negotiator (though some thought he played “hardball”), and this was publicly admitted by many of his negotiating partners, either immediately or later on. We will mention several examples that confirm Slobodan Milosevic’s constructive and peaceful engagement in international conferences, talks and negotiations regarding the Yugoslav crisis, from 1991 to 1995:

a. The 1991 Hague Conference, where Slobodan Milosevic represented only Serbia, was intended to decide upon the dissolution of Yugoslavia as a federation, according to the Badinter plan and with agreement of all six presidents of federal republics. Only Slobodan Milosevic opposed this intent. Soon it was shown that this plan was to provide a basis for the “premature recognition” of seceded republics as independent states (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia). Multiple bodies of the so-called international community have since agreed that this had been a mistake, as well as one of the causes of the long civil and ethno-religious war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, certainly one of the most horrible wars ever waged in this region.

b. from the beginning to the end of the ethno-religious war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slobodan Milosevic on many occasions took active part in talks and negotiations, consistently supporting a cessation of hostilities and search for a peaceful solution to the crisis (through supporting the Vance-Owen plan, visiting Pale with the then-President of the FRY Dobrica Cosic and the Greek Foreign Minister Mitsotakis, etc.). It is well known that Lord David Owen blamed the U.S. government, not Slobodan Milosevic, for lengthening the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The crowning achievement of Mr. Milosevic’s efforts to achieve peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina is the Dayton Agreement, even though many of its provisions were not favorable to the Serbs.

Paragraph 62 of the Indictment says: “As the President of the FRY, the Supreme Commander of the VJ, and the President of the Supreme Defence Council, and pursuant to his de facto authority, Slobodan MILOSEVIC is responsible for the actions of his subordinates within the VJ and any police forces, both federal and republican, who have committed the crimes alleged in this indictment since January 1999 in the province of Kosovo.”

COMMENT: As President of the FRY, and the President of the Supreme Defence Council, Slobodan Milosevic has been the supreme commander of VJ in both war- and peacetime, not “de facto, but de jure, based on his constitutional powers. As the supreme commander, he is responsible for the actions of the military, but not the police. As we said earlier, federal police took no part in counter-terrorist operations in Kosovo-Metohija, or defending this province from NATO aggression. Forces of the Serbian MUP are responsible to their superiors in the Serbian government. Police forces in Montenegro are also responsible to the government of their republic. Although the Defense Law gives an option of subordinating the police units to operational VJ commands in case of war or imminent danger of war, police refusal prevented this course of action.

In January 1999, the OSCE Verification mission deployed throughout Kosovo-Metohija while VJ units withdrew to their garrisons. In the latter half of February 1999, until and throughout the NATO aggression against the FRY, VJ forces and the Serbian MUP conducted counter-terrorist operations. However, as it was already proven in responses to previous paragraphs of the Indictment, the VJ did not commit any war crimes, anytime, anywhere, nor did it act in any way against the international laws of war. Therefore, its supreme commander bears no criminal command responsibility, and this accusation is groundless.

Paragraph 63 of the Indictment says: “Milan MILUTINOVIC was elected President of Serbia on 21 December 1997, and remains President as of the date of this indictment. As President of Serbia, Milan MILUTINOVIC is the head of State. He represents Serbia and conducts its relations with foreign states and international organisations. He organises preparations for the defence of Serbia”.

Paragraph 64 of the Indictment says: “As President of Serbia, Milan MILUTINOVIC is a member of the Supreme Defence Council of the FRY and participates in decisions regarding the use of the VJ”.

Paragraph 65 of the Indictment says: “As President of Serbia, Milan MILUTINOVIC, in conjunction with the Assembly, has the authority to request reports both from the Government of Serbia, concerning matters under its jurisdiction, and from the Ministry of the Internal Affairs, concerning its activities and the security situation in Serbia. As President of Serbia, Milan MILUTINOVIC has the authority to dissolve the Assembly, and with it the Government, ‘subject to the proposal of the Government on justified grounds,’ although this power obtains only in peacetime.”

Paragraph 66 of the Indictment says: During a declared state of war or state of imminent threat of war, Milan MILUTINOVIC, as President of Serbia, may enact measures normally under the competence of the Assembly, including the passage of laws; these measures may include the reorganisation of the Government and its ministries, as well as the restriction of certain rights and freedoms.

Paragraph 67 of the Indictment says: “In addition to his de iure powers, Milan MILUTINOVIC exercises extensive de facto influence or control over numerous institutions essential to, or involved in, the conduct of the crimes alleged herein. Milan MILUTINOVIC exercises de facto influence or control over functions and institutions nominally under the competence of the Government and Assembly of Serbia and its autonomous provinces, including but not limited to the Serbian police force.”

Paragraph 68 of the Indictment says: In significant international negotiations, meetings and conferences since 1995, Milan MILUTINOVIC has been a principal interlocutor with whom the international community has negotiated. Among the conferences and international negotiations at which Milan MILUTINOVIC has been a primary representative of the FRY are: preliminary negotiations for a cease fire in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 15-21 August 1995; the Geneva meetings regarding the Bosnian cease fire, 7 September 1995; further negotiations for a cease fire in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 9-14 September 1995; the negotiations to end the NATO bombing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 14-20 September 1995; the meeting of Balkan foreign ministers in New York, 26 September 1995; and the Dayton peace negotiations in November 1995. Milan MILUTINOVIC was also present at the negotiations at Rambouillet in February 1999.

Paragraph 69 of the Indictment says: “As the President of Serbia, and a member of the Supreme Defence Council, and pursuant to his de facto authority, Milan MILUTINOVIC is responsible for the actions of any of his subordinates within the VJ and within any police forces who have committed the crimes alleged in this indictment since January 1999 within the province of Kosovo.”

COMMENT: We have no comment regarding the largely accurate biographical information and the list of functions performed in Serbia and the FRY from August 1995 to January 1999. However, several inaccuracies in the above-cited paragraphs do need to be addressed:

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