INDICTED continued part 17


The Indictment issued by the ICTY Prosecutor against Slobodan Milosevic, Milan Milutinovic, Nikola Sainovic, Dragoljub Ojdanic and Vlajko Stojiljkovic, on account of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war, is groundless and based on empty assertions. This form of indictment is unknown to Yugoslav legal theory and practice, and most probably in its European counterpart as well. It is a general rule that indictment have to be based on facts and evidence, precisely indicating what happened, when, who perpetrated the crime, which evidence is being offered, etc.

Any FRY court would dismiss without a second thought any indictment based on assumptions, probabilities imprecise notions and especially unfounded suspicions of when and how the crimes transpired. In Yugoslav legal theory and practice,  as well as in most European countries, there is a principle of in dubio pro reo (if in doubt, acquit). This indictment is entirely based on unfounded suspicions.

The time frame of the indictment (January – May 22, 1999) clearly denotes the basic aim of the indictment – to declare the defenders of Yugoslavia war criminals and absolve the aggressors as victims. In the period of January – March 24, 1999, when the NATO aggression started, the defendants are only accused of the “Racak affair,” which occurred January 15, 1999. Both domestic and international forensic experts have proven that there was no massacre of civilians in Racak, but that the terrorist “KLA” casualties were dressed in civilian clothes in order to blame the Yugoslav authorities. Prosecutor Arbour certainly knew this, yet she kept repeating the fabricated deception. It is known that the man behind it was William Walker, then head of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission.

All other instances listed in the Indictment occurred during the NATO aggression against the FRY. Thousands of bombs and missiles had hit towns and villages in Kosovo-Metohija, most often at random. These horrifying air strikes caused numerous casualties among the civilian population, and forced the people to flee in all directions. Albanians were not the only ones fleeing the chaos of bombing; so were non-Albanian inhabitants of the province. The Indictment seeks to blame all this on the FRY leadership, without even mentioning the NATO aggression and the consequences of its air strikes. Also neglected are several attempts of overland invasion from Albania.

Most paragraphs of the Indictment accuse the “forces of Serbia and FRY.” The only FRY force in Kosovo-Metohija was the VJ. It was the VJ, however, that did everything in its power to protect and aid the civilians in the chaos of bombing. All the orders, from those of the General Staff to those of brigade and battalion commanders, prove this beyond a reasonable doubt. There is not a single directive, a single order or instruction in the chain of command that does not include the instructions to protect and care for the civilian population. When NATO air strikes began, command of the 3rd Army and the Pristina Corps received special orders regulating specifically the protection of civilians and care for their property. All of this has been documented in numerous refutations of the Indictment listed above.

Documents issued by the VJ commanders regarding the protection of civilians and private property had the status not of declarations, but of direct orders. Numerous documents from the military judiciary system indicate that all the VJ members (and there were individual instances) who committed crimes, violent acts or looting were promptly prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

An important characteristic of numerous paragraphs in the Indictment was a series of deliberately misleading interpretations of Serb and Yugoslav political history. Instead of identifying the role of foreign powers, the Indictment seeks to assign criminal intent to the indicted leaders, casting them as primary culprits, even instigators, of second Yugoslavia’s dismemberment and the long civil or ethno-religious wars that occurred in the aftermath. Authors of the indictment base these interpretations on the entirely legal and legitimate amendments to the Serbian Constitution in March 1989. They see nothing wrong in praising the 1974 federal Constitution in paragraph 3, only to denounce it in most of the rest of the Indictment. The entire ICTY Indictment is filled with similar, mutually contradictory, interpretations.

Another contradiction is with the time frame and reasoning behind the Indictment. Here is why. First, if the “mass expulsion of Albanian civilian population from Kosovo” allegedly committed by “forces of the FRY and Serbia” that reached the proportions of “humanitarian disaster” was indeed the main reason for NATO to launch an aggression against the FRY (i.e. in order to stop this “disaster”), then the ICTY should have issued the Indictment before the random and criminal air strikes were launched against the entire territory FRY, and cynically codenamed “Merciful Angel”. Second, the defendants are in multiple paragraphs accused of alleged crimes between January and May 22 1999 (when the Indictment is issued), but not the alleged “humanitarian disaster” that supposedly occurred earlier. Even more scandalous is the fact that all the alleged crimes (save the so-called Racak incident of January 15, 1999), including refugee movements, occurred after March 25, 1999. So the Indictment  unwittingly admits that the so-called NATO air campaign was really undertaken for different reasons and not, as publicly stated, to “halt the humanitarian disaster,” since there had been no disaster before the bombing.

The Indictment accuses Slobodan Milosevic for starting the destruction of Yugoslavia through his anti-bureaucratic revolution and constitutional changes, claiming he is the most responsible for its collapse.

There are plenty of arguments – and evidence – to the contrary. Slobodan Milosevic fought for the freedom of the Serbian people, who lived in large numbers outside the republic of Serbia. Some 2.5 million Serbs lived in the republics of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. These people were guaranteed full liberty and equality only in a common state, such as the SFRY. It is not an accident, therefore, that of all six republican presidents within SFRY only Milosevic sharply objected to the Badinter plan for dissolution of SFRY through granting independence to the republics. At the 1991 Hague Conference, Milosevic justly claimed that Yugoslavia was not created by foreign diplomats, and hence could be destroyed by it them either. Since the Indictment twists every word, it is not surprising its twists this fact as well.

Many paragraphs speak of the de jure and de facto powers of the FRY President. Nowhere does the Indictment enumerate the alleged de facto powers, not even by citing an example of their use. By so doing, it makes malicious implications, attempting to portray the Yugoslav president as a dictator. The Indictment thus embraces a diverse propaganda campaign against Slobodan Milosevic coming from the United States and other Western countries, as it always comes against leaders of countries that refuse to obey American diktat. Refuting several paragraphs in the Indictment, we cited that the FRY President make all the decisions vital to the country with full Constitutional authority and agreement with other government members. The decision to defend the FRY from NATO aggression was reached unanimously by the Supreme Defense Council on October 4, 1998; the platform for negotiations with Ambassador Holbrooke in October 1998 was previously adopted by the FRY Parliament; the negotiating platform for the Rambouillet and Paris talks was adopted by the Serbian Parliament. Even the plan for cessation of hostilities in June 1999 was formulated through consultations with opposition leaders throughout the FRY.

The alleged de facto powers of the FRY president, repeated in many sections of the Indictment, realistically represent but an empty propaganda phrase, whose aim is crystal clear.

Two completely identical situations in former SFRY that were treated and even perceived differently clearly testify about double standard and blatant biases of Western Europe – and especially the United States – and with them, the ICTY prosecutors. The West has consistently criticized and berated the Yugoslav Army for alleged “excessive force.” When the VJ launched an offensive against the Albanian terrorists in July 1998, NATO and the U.S. threatened to attack our country unless the offensive was halted immediately. We must add that the VJ never used the air force or heavy artillery against the Albanian terrorists, adhering faithfully to its orders not to shell towns or villages and only engage enemy firing positions. On top of all that, the Western media and official communiqués never referred to the “KLA” as a terrorist organization. 

When the “KLA” took its terrorist violence across the border into Macedonia two years later, with the purpose of carving out a “Greater Albania,” no one in the West – not even the U.S. – opposed the Macedonian Army’s use of heavy weapons (airplanes, tanks, helicopters, APCs, missiles and artillery) against the terrorists. It is clearly Macedonia’s right to use all the available means to defend itself from an internal, secessionist rebellion. Now Western Europe and the United States correctly refer to the “KLA” as a terrorist organization. But when that very same terrorist militia fought against the Yugoslav Army and Serbian security forces in Kosovo-Metohija, in the West it had the reputation of “freedom fighters.”

There seem to be no boundaries in the ICTY Indictment’s arbitrary bias. Inspired, perhaps, by colonial precedents of forcible expulsion of natives and creation of white settler majorities in other people’s ancestral lands, the authors of this Indictment base their claim of Albanian majority in Kosovo-Metohija solely on the 1981 Census, or even the dubious projections of that population’s growth over the past two decades! Using conquistador logic, they have no interest in the historical character of Kosovo-Metohija as the cradle of Serbs civilization and culture, or even in how the recent Serb majority was displaced by the Albanians. This displacement occurred not because one nation naturally receded into extinction, but as a direct consequence of Albanian expansionism that escalated in the latter 20th century. From its beginnings, this separatism has acted in concert with (and serving the interests of) foreign conquerors. Were the Hague Tribunal to judge on the basis of even the most elementary jurisprudence, it would never have considered legitimate an essentially genocidal change in the ethnic makeup of Kosovo-Metohija.

Accepting the Austro-Hungarian propaganda line about “Greater Serbian hegemony,” invented as early as the 1908 Bosnia annexation crisis, the Indictment unsuccessfully tries to establish its genesis. Yet it takes no stand regarding the very real “Greater Albanian” expansionism, which is never even mentioned. Due to this unbalanced approach, the Indictment does not use the same standards and criteria, nor does it have the same approach to “parties to the conflict” in Kosovo-Metohija. That, among other things, makes the Indictment lose even the outward characteristics of a legal document, turning it into a purely political pamphlet. Because of such an approach to the realities of Kosovo-Metohija, not one of the one hundred paragraphs makes any mention of the secessionist movement and its publicly declared objectives (creation of the ethnically pure Kosovo-Metohija, its secession and annexation to “Greater Albania”), the KLA as its most militant manifestation, terrorism as the predominant form of struggle, numerous victims of that terrorism, etc.

Authors of the Indictment maliciously ignored the very existence of Albanian terrorism and its perpetrators as the main cause of the crisis in Kosovo-Metohija. Using the method established by Ambassador W. Walker, terrorists killed in battles with the “forces of the FRY and Serbia” are at any cost and without any evidence presented as civilian victims of “Serbian repression” or “excessive use of force”! Even when they are forced to acknowledge the existence of secessionists in Kosovo-Metohija, authors of the Indictment want to portray it as “non-violent,” and its widespread terrorist activities – which did not spare even the ethnic Albanians loyal to the Serbian government – purposefully attempt to minimize it to a level of “one faction” that “advocated armed rebellion” and violent “resistance to Serb authority.” It is an established fact that this perception of the Albanian separatist and terrorist movement is diametrically opposed to reality. Probably the most unsustainable claim in the Indictment is the recognition of illegal sessions of the so-called “Republic of Kosova,” and its establishment of “parallel authority,” since the Indictment thus takes the side of subversive efforts that have been outlawed by the entire civilized world. This being the case, the Indictment cannot possibly be a basis for objectively judging the events in Kosovo-Metohija during the 1990s.

Indeed, the ICTY Indictment supports “nonviolent resistance” as a legitimate claim for greater ethnic rights and social justice of “Kosovo Albanians.” It neglects, however – on purpose or out of ignorance, it doesn’t matter – that the economic, cultural and every other form of prosperity the Albanians enjoyed in SFRY was unprecedented in the history of ethnic minority relations in Europe and the world. In some 30 years, this ethnic minority increased its economic potential eighteen times, also rising from the almost entirely illiterate to the third most educated group in SFRY. This was the only ethnic minority ever to be granted the status of “constituent element of the Federation.” Its leaders at the time, Fadil Hoxha and Sinan Hasani, have on two occasions been President or Vice President of the SFRY Presidium, not to mention the other high-ranking government positions in Serbia and Yugoslavia that Albanians were awarded according to ethnic quotas. Without any merit, the ICTY Indictment willfully neglected the economic and overall prosperity of Kosovo-Metohija within Serbia and FRY, while emphasizing as legitimate the separatist goals of “Kosovo Albanians.” Yet this movement’s goal has been an ethnically cleansed Kosovo that would secede from Yugoslavia and Serbia – not equal ethnic rights within that state. Any other interpretation is simply deceitful. Experience has clearly demonstrated that the levels of separatist rebellion and terrorist violence grew in direct proportion with unconditional and constant increase in autonomy and ethnic rights. This proved the Marxist theory of ethnicity as a historical category, based on which the SFRY practiced the illusion of “national self-expression,” to be deeply flawed and in practice nearly fatal. The well-known principle that autonomy of certain minority communities is directly dependent on their loyalty is likely to remain for a long time the cornerstone of minority policy in multiethnic states.

The most controversial claim in the entire ICTY Indictment is surely the so-called “humanitarian disaster” of the Kosovo-Metohija people, created by the “planned and coordinated campaign” of “shelling towns and villages, burning homes, farms and businesses,” with “deportation,” “forced migration” and “expulsion” of hundreds of thousands of “Kosovo Albanians.” It directly follows from this claim that during 1998/99, the “forces of the FRY and Serbia” in Kosovo-Metohija did nothing but persecute the local Albanian population! The reality was, of course, entirely reversed. On top of everyday battles with “KLA” terrorists and defense from NATO air strikes, the VJ units did everything in their power, under the circumstances, to protect the civilians regardless of their ethnicity or religion. It is absolutely untrue that the expulsion of “Kosovo Albanian” civilians was the main goal of the VJ. Quite to the contrary, the main adversaries of the VJ were “KLA” terrorists and NATO forces.

Main causes of mass refugee columns and temporary evacuations of civilians in Kosovo-Metohija during 1998/99 (i.e. before and during the NATO aggression) were: (a) organization and advance preparation on “KLA” orders (not the “forces of the FRY and Serbia”), thus manufacturing evidence of “repression” against “Kosovo Albanians” with the purpose of creating a pretext for direct military intervention by NATO in the Kosovo-Metohija crisis; (b) well-known  practice of separatist movements since the secession of Slovenia, to involve civilian population in the rebellion, primarily as “human shields” against the objectively superior government forces; (c) evacuation of civilians, at the invitation of “forces of the FRY and Serbia,” from residential areas fortified by the “KLA” terrorists, prior to government attacks against terrorist fortifications; (d) willful, spontaneous escape of Albanian civilians from impending danger of fighting in and around their homes, which had been converted into firing positions by the “KLA” terrorists; and (e) exodus of all civilians – Albanians and non-Albanians alike – in the face of mass air and missile strikes by NATO forces, which targeted most areas within Kosovo-Metohija.

Until the NATO aggression, Kosovo-Metohija was involved in a separatist armed rebellion through the means of widespread terrorist violence. Jurisdiction over the international armed conflict in which war crimes were possibly committed is exclusively a matter of FRY and NATO. Therefore, based on the present norms of international laws of war, the “humanitarian disaster” in Kosovo-Metohija cannot be classified as a “crime against humanity” or “violation of laws and customs of war.”

There is no mention in the ICTY Indictment of the real humanitarian disaster: the genocidal expulsion of non-Albanians after the end of NATO aggression, after the “forces of the FRY and Serbia” withdrew and Kosovo-Metohija was occupied by so-called U.N. peacekeepers, in reality NATO military forces. Its proportions and the number of casualties it has caused, this exodus of non-Albanians (first and foremost the Serbs) from the province is far greater than the one perpetrated by Albanian extremists in 1941-44, as collaborators of German and Italian fascist occupiers.

The fact that NATO representatives demanded, during the June 1999 Kumanovo talks, that Yugoslav forces withdraw from Kosovo-Metohija independently from NATO’s deployment in the province clearly speaks of their intent to give the Albanian terrorists unhindered opportunity to ethnically cleanse this territory. This is precisely what happened, to a yet unprecedented degree. In just a few days, over 250,000 Serbs and uncounted numbers of other, non-Albanian inhabitants left Kosovo-Metohija; two years later, there is no hint they would be able to return.

In the same time period, with KFOR and UNMIK fully deployed in the province, some 1,600 Serbs “disappeared” (i.e. were murdered). Nothing is known of their fate, either. The “efficient” ICTY, which managed to indict the Yugoslav leadership for war crimes before the said war was even over, has failed to indict even any of the Albanian terrorists or their NATO sponsors – two years since KFOR and UNMIK arrived to Kosovo-Metohija. This is obviously the way to make Ambassador Holbrooke’s 1998 message that “Serbs should have nothing to do with Kosovo any more” a reality.

To fabricate a “humanitarian disaster,” the Indictment even re-interpreted a regular and well-known, inevitable duty of all armies in the world – battlefield cleanup – as “removing the evidence of crime.” In any war, both sides experience mass casualties. War also causes casualties among both domestic and wild animals, along with damage dangerous to human health. That is why all armies in wartime have battlefield decontamination, or cleanup crews. Were that not the case, areas where combat took place would soon be uninhabitable, crawling with diseases and causing lethal epidemics in nearby areas.

Military command in VJ has regulated this process very precisely. All the deceased, be they members of the VJ or enemies, are systematically examined by teams of forensic experts – comprised of judges, prosecutors, physicians, veterinarians and other qualified personnel – before they are buried or turned over to their families for burial. In each case, a detailed record is made. This necessary and well-regulated procedure can be classified as “removing evidence of the crime” only by the ill-intentioned, or the ignorant.

The U.N. Security Council had no authority to establish or authorize any judicial body that would prosecute alleged perpetrators of international crimes, including the ICTY. Hence the Indictment of this artificial and quasi-legal creation, imposed on the world by the U.S. administration with the goal of justifying its criminal role in destruction of SFRY and aggression against FRY, has no legal standing under international law. Any crimes committed by anyone during the counter-terrorist operations in Kosovo-Metohija, all jurisdiction falls squarely into the hands of the courts FRY, and not some bastard chimera of the so-called international community.

ICTY has no legal basis in the U.N. Charter, or international law. It was established by a body that lacked any jurisdiction to do so. U.N. Security Council thus violated the limits of its jurisdiction, as well as by promulgating the ICTY Statute and giving the ICTY jurisdiction for certain crimes.

The Indictment of that tribunal against the individuals who made up the Supreme Command of the FRY defense during the NATO aggression contains no evidence of their guilt. It is founded on assumptions, insinuations and assertions.

INDICTED continued part 18