INDICTED continued part 5
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Paragraph 31 of the Indictment says: “The police forces taking part in the actions in Kosovo are members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia in addition to some units from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the FRY. All police forces employed by or working under the authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia are commanded by Vlajko STOJILJKOVIC, Minister of Internal Affairs of Serbia. Under the FRY Act on the Armed Forces, those police forces engaged in military operations during a state of war or imminent threat of war are subordinated to the command of the VJ whose commanders are Colonel General Dragoljub OJDANIC and Slobodan MILOSEVIC.

COMMENT: The only truth in this Paragraph of the Indictment is that Vlajko StojiLJkovic was head of the Serbian MUP at the time, commanding the Serbian police. Everything else is false. But let's take it one thing at a time:

- It is not true that “some units from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the FRY” took part in the actions in Kosovo-Metohija. No unit of the FRY Interior Ministry took part in any action in Kosovo-Metohija. We would also add that the FRY Interior Minister at the time, Zoran Sokolovic, never even visited Kosovo-Metohija in 1998 or 1999;

- the allegation that “Under the FRY Act on the Armed Forces, those police forces engaged in military operations during a state of war or imminent threat of war are subordinated to the command of the VJ whose commanders are Colonel General Dragoljub Ojdanic and Slobodan Milosevic” is untrue. There is no FRY Act on the Armed Forces. A non-existing law cannot regulate anything. The National Defense Act, Article 17, does say: “In case of imminent threat of war, a state of war or martial law, units and agencies of the Interior Ministry can be used to conduct combat operations, whether in battle or other forms of armed resistance. While conducting combat operations, such units and agencies would be subordinated to the VJ officer in command of those operations.”

So, Article 17 says that “units and agencies of the Interior Ministry can be used…” The word “can” does not imply they must. Sticking to that interpretation, the units and agencies of the Serbian Interior Ministry did not want to be subordinated to VJ command, from the beginning to the end of the state of war.

There were attempts to subordinate police forces to Pristina Corps brigade commanders in Kosovo-Metohija, but they were unsuccessful.

Orders of the Third Army Command (classified, # 872-92 of April 20, 1999) say: “1) For the purpose of unified command in areas of operation, forces and agencies of the Interior Ministry shall be subordinated to the Pristina Corps and its subordinate commands in conducting combat operations; 2) Pristina Corps and subordinated commanders will additionally regulate the obligations of MUP forces and agencies in conducting combat operations in their areas of responsibility, according to the organizational structure of forces and agencies of the Interior Ministry; 3) All Interior Ministry agencies in Army areas of responsibility shall be notified of this order.”

Based on these orders from the 3rd Army, the PrK commander issued an order to its brigades, regulating the subordination of police units in tactical operational zones.

“Following the Third Army command orders (classified #872-125/1) of 8 May 1999, for the purpose of preventing further activities of ATF and destroying all terrorist groups in the PrK zone of responsibility:

1.      "In the PrK zone of responsibility all security forces shall be engaged in establishing complete control of territory and maintaining open routes of communications.

2.      "Through the deployment of VJ units and MUP units in brigade tactical operational zones, provide a planned and continuous engagement of manpower and materiel in the entire territory of Kosovo-Metohija; on the brigade level, engage in total destruction of the remaining terrorist forces in each brigade’s area of responsibility.

3.      "MUP units shall be involved in controlling the territory, engaging in counter-terrorist, actions,  protecting the flanks and rear areas of Army units, and generally participating in combat operations in the area, following orders of VJ brigade commanders.

4.      "Part of the forces is to be engaged in regular duties of providing public order and safety, protect the lives and property of citizens, regulating traffic, etc.

"Mobile MUP units (22nd, 23rd, 35th, 36th, 1st, 4th and 37th Special Forces companies) are to be integrated into defense systems under direction of defense force commanders in their areas of responsibility.

5. "PrK Command order (classified #455-201) of 1 May 1999 subordinated all territorial defense and MUP units to VJ brigades, according to the MUP deployment map (attached) and territorial defense deployment plans, so that MUP and territorial defense companies can operate as units, engaging in combat under VJ control.

6. "Current deployment of MUP and territorial defense forces can be changed depending on the situation; brigade commanders will have the responsibility for such changes.

7. "Ensure a high level of accountability among all members of VJ, MUP and territorial defense units. Violators shall be held responsible and subject to disciplinary measures and criminal prosecution.

8. "Brigade commands and MUP headquarters will regulate with their superiors all other issues in regard to combat operations by the VJ, MUP and territorial defense units, providing for consistent implementation of this order. MUP units will be deployed in agreement with Interior Ministry offices in local areas of responsibility...”

None of this was implemented, however, because the police refused to be subordinated to VJ commanders. A report from the commanding officer of the 37th Motorized Brigade (20 May 1999) thus states:

Despite Your orders and the meetings held so far with MUP officials, their subordination to brigade commanders in the PrK area of responsibility is proceeding very slowly and with substantial resistance of police officers in regard to their deployment. Following your proposals, we propose the following: to approach the police command in order to regulate the subordination of MUP units in brigade zones of responsibility, thus enabling their deployment in areas of responsibility in the role of combat elements attached to the corresponding brigades, and for the purpose of maintaining control of [Kosovo-Metohija] territory...

"To define the relationship between forces at the appropriate level, for the purpose of combating ATF and in the [Corps’] area of responsibility, so that the situation in the field would conform to realistic needs and the tactical situation.”

Finally, Paragraph 31 puts forward that the VJ commanders were “Colonel-General Dragoljub Ojdanic and Slobodan Milosevic.”

This claim is also not true. Colonel-General Dragoljub Ojdanic was never a “commander” of the Yugoslav Army, nor the police, had it ever agreed to be subordinated to VJ brigade commands.

According to the FRY Constitution (Article 135), “The Yugoslav Army is commanded by the President in times of both war and peace, in agreement with decisions made by the Supreme Defense Council,” to be “composed of the FRY President and presidents of member republics.

The FRY president also chairs the Supreme Defense Council.”

The Law on the Yugoslav Army (Articles 3 and 4) says: “Command in the Army is based on the principles of unified command and control in regard to use of forces and materiel, chain of command and following orders and directions of superior officers.” (Article 3), and that “The Yugoslav Army is commanded by the President in times of both war and peace, in agreement with decisions made by the Supreme Defense Council.” (Article 4).

Colonel-General Dragoljub Ojdanic was Chief of Staff at the Supreme Command. Historically, chiefs of staff on all command levels in the Yugoslav Army – and in the armies of Serbia, the Yugoslav Kingdom and SFRY – never had command authority, but only staff duties. Therefore, they cannot bear responsibility for actions of lower-level command officers in the armed forces.

Paragraph 32 of the Indictment says: Prior to December 1998, Slobodan MILOSEVIC designated Nikola SAINOVIC as his representative for the Kosovo situation. A number of diplomats and other international officials who needed to speak with a government official regarding events in Kosovo were directed to Nikola SAINOVIC. He took an active role in the negotiations establishing the OSCE verification mission for Kosovo and he participated in numerous other meetings regarding the Kosovo crisis. From January 1999 to the date of this indictment, Nikola SAINOVIC has acted as the liaison between Slobodan MILOSEVIC and various Kosovo Albanian leaders.”

Paragraph 33 of the Indictment says: Nikola SAINOVIC was most recently re-appointed Deputy Prime Minister of the FRY on 20 May 1998. As such, he is a member of the Government of the FRY, which, among other duties and responsibilities, formulates domestic and foreign policy, enforces federal law, directs and co-ordinates the work of federal ministries, and organises defence preparations.

COMMENT: Not just in these two, but in eleven other paragraphs Nikola Sainovic’s name  is mentioned, though the Indictment offers no specific incriminating information, or even suspicion that he committed a single criminal act.

If his constitutional powers were listed in addition to his positions (deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister of the Serbian government, deputy Prime Minister of FRY), it would have been clear that everything Nikola Sainovic did, even according to the Indictment, was squarely within the bounds of his constitutional and legal authority.

All the duties cited in Paragraph 33, as well as many other duties of the Federal government have been clearly outlined by the FRY Constitution in Article 99. (Section 1. Formulating domestic and foreign policy and enforces federal laws, regulations and other acts; Section 2. Maintaining relations between the FRY and other states and international organizations;.... Section 7. Directing and coordinating the work of federal ministries with other federal agencies and organizations, with the ability to nullify their decisions; ... Section 9. Ordering a general mobilization and organizing preparations for defense; etc.)

Therefore, as Deputy Federal Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic was in charge of foreign policy and he worked strictly in accordance with the government policy and constitutional authority. All that considered, why is his name on the list of the indicted at all?

This needs to be emphasized in relation to the allegation in Paragraph 32 that Nikola Sainovic was Slobodan Milosevic’s “representative for the Kosovo situation.” Nikola Sainovic was part of the delegation composed of federal and Serbian officials whose purpose was to contribute to the peaceful solution of the Kosovo-Metohija crisis.

The allegation that Sainovic “took an active role in the negotiations establishing the OSCE verification mission for Kosovo” is not incriminating and should stand in his favor, since this demonstrates his efforts to peacefully resolve the Kosovo-Metohija crisis.

The Fabricated “Humanitarian Disaster”

 

Paragraph 34 of the Indictment says: During their offensives, forces of the FRY and Serbia acting in concert have engaged in a well-planned and co-ordinated campaign of destruction of property owned by Kosovo Albanian civilians. Towns and villages have been shelled, homes, farms, and businesses burned, and personal property destroyed. As a result of these orchestrated actions, towns, villages, and entire regions have been made uninhabitable for Kosovo Albanians. Additionally, forces of the FRY and Serbia have harassed, humiliated, and degraded Kosovo Albanian civilians through physical and verbal abuse. The Kosovo Albanians have also been persistently subjected to insults, racial slurs, degrading acts based on ethnicity and religion, beatings, and other forms of physical mistreatment.”

COMMENT: By claiming that “forces of the FRY and Serbia... in a well-planned and co-ordinated campaign of destruction of property owned by Kosovo Albanian civilians...” made entire regions “uninhabitable for Kosovo Albanians, this Paragraph makes, in addition to “crimes of genocide” (which will be discussed later), one of the gravest and most untrue allegations in the entire 100 Paragraphs of the Indictment. Namely, it insinuates the so-called humanitarian disaster, created as part of a media campaign to establish a pretext for NATO (led by the U.S.) military intervention against the FRY, with aims that have been discussed earlier.

Such a situation in Kosovo-Metohija was to be blamed entirely and solely on the  “forces of the FRY and Serbia”, i.e. their military and civilian leadership. Paragraph 34 simply bristles with explicit allegations made to sound as if they were based on incontrovertible evidence, and therefore impervious to doubt. This formulation suggests to the public that the Prosecutors already have all the necessary evidence, which has been left out simply because of spatial limitations in the Indictment.

In refuting Paragraph 34, however, we will not adhere to any spatial limitations.

On the other hand, the following paragraph (35) presents the alleged rendering of Kosovo-Metohija “uninhabitable for Kosovo Albanians” as a consequence of a planned and coordinated campaign of deliberate destruction of civilian property in Kosovo in both (markedly different) stages of the Kosovo-Metohija crisis: (a) before and (b) during NATO’s air aggression against the FRY, combined with multiple attempts of land invasion from Albania (March-June 1999).

Both periods involve mass columns of refugees - not just “Kosovo Albanians” – and temporary refugee camps of short or longer duration, but for different causes. The allegedly deliberate shelling of “towns and villages” and burning of “homes, farms, and businesses” by the “forces of the FRY and Serbia,” calculated to render the region “uninhabitable for Kosovo Albanians,” played no significant part (or none altogether) in any of those causes.

The main causes of refugee columns and temporary refugee camps appearing in the territory of Kosovo-Metohija during 1998-1999 were: (a) organized, premeditated (by the “KLA” commanders, not the “forces of the FRY and Serbia”) movements in order to fabricate evidence of persecution of “Kosovo Albanians,” thus creating a media pretext for direct military involvement of NATO in the Kosovo-Metohija crisis; (b) a separatist rebel tactic, familiar since Slovenia, of involving the civilians and residential areas in their rebellious acts, primarily as human shields, to counter the military supremacy of state security forces; (c) exodus of civilians from residential areas where “KLA” forces had fortified themselves, at the invitation of "forces of the FRY and Serbia", before attacks on these fortified terrorist bases; (d) voluntary exodus of Albanian civilians from combat operations in and around residential areas which had been turned into “KLA” fortifications; and finally, (e) exodus of all civilians, Albanians and non-Albanians alike, from the 78 days of NATO’s massive and indiscriminate missile and air strikes, the brunt of them against Kosovo-Metohija.

Rounding out this qualification of the framework for the alleged “humanitarian disaster” in Kosovo-Metohija during 1998 and 1999, we would like to add and perhaps repeat that the "forces of the FRY" – specifically the Pristina Corps and the Third VJ Army – behaved towards “Kosovo Albanian” civilians in a fashion completely opposite to that alleged in the Indictment. Some exceptions will be mentioned later. We cannot neglect the fact that most of the officers in the Pristina Corps and the Third Army, i.e. those responsible for all the acts by those units, were educated and commissioned in the former Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and rooted in the traditions of heroism and chivalry of the Serbian Army, Montenegrin Army, and the People’s Liberation Army (Yugoslav Partisans), built around the moral foundation of loyalty to the people, ethical behavior and adherence to laws and customs of war. This is one of the oldest modern armies in Europe. Over the past 150 years, it has fought for a total of 17 years in numerous difficult and cruel wars – always in self-defense and liberation. In these wars, support and aid of the people has always represented a primary factor of victory.

Unlike most modern European armies, the VJ (a product of JNA’s transformation) did not enter the fight against Albanian terrorism without experience. It could not have been surprised by the involvement of manipulated and terrorized civilians that either aided the terrorist paramilitaries of various separatist movements, or was used by them as human shields. As early as 1991, in Slovenia, and subsequently in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the JNA faced strong paramilitary forces of local secessionists, which used civilians in towns and cities as human shields. In order to protect these civilians from any harm, JNA garrisons suffered protracted sieges (lacking power, water, food and medical supplies) and even casualties (often surrendering without a fight). Having tested the JNA’s reaction to civilian involvement, separatist regimes in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina reached the conclusion that the JNA will not “fire into the crowd.” Only this way can one explain their risky, irresponsible and adventurous decision to besiege JNA garrisons located inside cities. Had the besieged units decided to actively resist and break out of encirclement, they had at their disposal enough firepower and ammunition to literally destroy those cities. It is well known that the sieges in Zagreb, Karlovac (Koranj bridge), and Sarajevo (Dobrovoljacka Street) ended with bloodbaths of JNA soldiers, especially the one in Skojevska Street in Tuzla (May 15, 1992). Trained and educated to be an army of the people, the JNA/VJ was always ready to suffer casualties and humiliation rather than violate its sacred oath, enshrined in the salute of units at roll call: “We Serve the People!”

Respect for Laws of War and Military Ethics in the VJ

Leaders of the Albanian separatist movement and the “KLA” incorporated their awareness of these principles into their strategy of widespread terrorist violence, developing it to an unprecedented extent with the help of its foreign sponsors.

They were surprised, therefore, by the Yugoslav Army’s decision to deploy the PrK units in the field before the beginning of “KLA’s” general terrorist offensive. In this way, the VJ preempted the blockade of its garrisons with all the disastrous consequences the JNA had to suffer. At the same time, it gained maximum freedom to choose the type of combat operations which would best enable the protection of civilians. Because of this, there is not a single document in the entire battle archive of PrK and the Third Army related to counter-terrorist operations and defense from NATO aggression that does not insist on protecting the civilians, and for that purpose order the commands and members of VJ to take appropriate actions. In addition to all we said responding to Paragraph 25 (first half of 1998) about the relations between PrK commands and units and the civilian population, we will begin documenting this relationship in the latter half of 1998 with a classified order of Pristina Corps Command (# 873-367, 4 May 1998) regulating the return of civilians to abandoned villages:

By the authority vested in me by the FRY and Serbia, and based on the talks between PrK and government representatives with the inhabitants of Batusa village on 4 June 1998,

I ORDER:

1.      Approve the return of civilians who left their homes along the Ponosevac-Batusa highway, to the villages of Brovina, Molic i Batusa;

2.      Commanding officers of PrK units controlling the aforementioned communications route shall demand from village elders to give them complete information about the households and inhabitants of the villages, a list of names of people returning home, and information about their property (fields, pastures and wells);

3.      Behave towards all inhabitants of the aforementioned villages with every courtesy. During the return, all VJ members shall render all necessary assistance;

4.      All harassment, damage to property, or seizure of food, water and spirits from local population is expressly forbidden;

5.      During the return of civilians to their villages, establish controls to prevent the smuggling of weapons, ammunition and explosives. In case of incoming fire from these villages, issue warnings and demand the surrender of weapons and terrorists. If these demands are rejected, open fire on the houses from which hostile fire came.

6.      This order shall come into force on 5 June 1998. at 0800 hrs.

7.      Inform all enlisted men and officers (signature of acknowledgement required) with this order and ensure its full implementation.”

At the end of the first phase of anti-terrorist operations in the area of the 53rd Border Brigade, when VJ units accomplished their mission of securing the territory along the state border and removing the blockade of roads towards outposts “Morina” and “Kosare,” a meeting took place at the PrK forward command post in Djakovica on June 5, 1998. At the meeting, attended by the CO of units in charge of the area, the accomplished mission was analyzed and the following order (classified # 873-375 of 5 June 1998) was issued by the PrK Command. We quote the relevant parts relating to measures for protection of civilians:

I ORDER:

1. Actions of all units and must conform fully to previous decisions and orders issued by this command;

2. Ensure that all orders are fully implemented in subordinated units, and inform their officers and enlisted men of their specifics to the extent necessary to perform combat operations and other duties;

3. All mines are to be fully documented, according to standing operating procedures, with one copy of each report sent to the PrK Command and the forward CP by 10 June 1998. All subsequent reports shall be sent within three days;

5. Deployment of all improvised mines in all areas shall be forbidden. When leaving an area, the unit CO shall attest that the area is clean of all mines and booby-traps;

6. Personnel exhibiting reckless, hesitant and deviant behavior shall be immediately removed from all units, in order to prevent their influence on other enlisted men’s behavior and unit morale...

14. All units shall sweep their areas of responsibility, remove all ammunition and shrapnel and stow it in crates. The deadline for this is 8 June 1998;

15. In areas of deployment and operation of all units, ensure the discipline of officers and enlisted men and prevent theft of property from ethnic Albanian citizens. All property that has been taken so far from homes and yards shall be returned. In the future, all personnel violating this order shall be disciplined and criminally prosecuted.

16. All units shall check their rosters of officers and enlisted men, paying close attention to reserve personnel, and consistently implement earlier orders regarding personnel control before and after each mission;

17. In combat areas impose martial law, preventing uncontrolled movement of individuals during both day and night. This will be the responsibility of PrK Command’s Chief Security Officer (CSO).

18. Compose a status report on the situation found in the village of Ponosevac upon arrival of VJ forces and at present. For the villages of Brovina and Molic compose reports about VJ actions (damages to houses and other buildings and their nature) and the situation in them...

20. Prevent the use of alcohol in all units, and take appropriate measures towards violators.”

However, the Albanian separatist leaders and “KLA” commanders would not accept the defeats they suffered along the border (at outposts “Kosare” and “Morina”), and especially the return of civilians to their homes under VJ escort and protection. In coordination with their foreign advisors and sponsors, they organized some 40-50,000 civilians from the Djakovica, Decani  and Prizren municipalities, with the intention to form refugee columns and cross the border into Albania – illegally, of course, without documents (passports, visas) and away from regular border crossings. PrK Command learned of this plan in time, and issued an order marked “extremely urgent” (classified #873-380) on June 6, 1998, which among other things said:

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