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BBC: Milosevic Attacks BBC 'Bias' as a BBC Journalist Testifies in ICTY (28-8-02)

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  • Panayote Dimitras
    Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK Milosevic attacks BBC bias http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/europe/2220904.stm Milosevic accused the BBC of
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 28, 2002
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      Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
      Milosevic attacks BBC 'bias'
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/europe/2220904.stm

      Milosevic accused the BBC of unfair reporting

      The BBC's former Belgrade correspondent, Jacky Rowland, has clashed with
      former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic while giving evidence at his
      war crimes trial.
      She was cross-examined by Mr Milosevic in a tense exchange, which focused
      on the BBC's objectivity and impartiality.

      Ms Rowland insisted that her reports from the former Yugoslavia had been
      fair and objective.



      I think anyone who knew me in Yugoslavia at that time, including Kosovo
      Serbs, would say I was one of the fairest and most objective reporters they
      knew

      Jacky Rowland
      She had been called to the tribunal to testify about what she saw at
      Dubrava prison in Kosovo in 1999, where she found inmates lying dead.

      The Serb authorities claimed the victims had been killed by Nato bombs, but
      she reported at the time that it was unclear how they had died.

      She told Mr Milosevic that they did not appear to her to be the victims of
      bombing.

      "If you were hit by a bomb - heaven forbid - I think I'd be able to tell by
      looking at your body whether that was the manner of death," she told him.

      A previous witness claimed Serb guards had shot most of the victims.

      Tribunal judge Richard May told Ms Rowland he believed that Mr Milosevic
      was also calling into question the wider issue of the objectivity of other
      BBC reports from Kosovo.


      Jacky Rowland: "I took a great deal of pride in my work"

      "What the accused is putting to you is that the BBC was not necessarily
      objective, that here was one objective report, but the fact that there was
      one objective report doesn't mean all the reports were objective," said
      Judge May.

      But Ms Rowland insisted she took a great deal of pride in her work from the
      region.

      "I think anyone who knew me in Yugoslavia at that time, including Kosovo
      Serbs, would say I was one of the fairest and most objective reporters they
      knew," she said.

      "I am very happy to say the BBC enjoys probably the best international
      reputation of any international broadcaster for being objective."

      She pointed out that her features from the region had included one on how
      Serbs were being demonised.

      Tribunal first

      And looking directly at the ex-leader, she told him: "During the Nato
      bombing campaign, Mr Milosevic, as you well know, the British Government
      was sharply critical of BBC coverage.

      "At one stage some government officials referred to us as the Belgrade
      Broadcasting Corporation."

      This is the first time a journalist has testified at the Milosevic trial,
      although several others have given evidence at previous trials held by the
      tribunal.

      Mr Milosevic is accused of more than 60 charges of war crimes and crimes
      against humanity during the conflicts in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia.



      I think despite himself he found himself warming to me as our discussion
      went on

      Jacky Rowland
      Ms Rowland told the BBC after giving evidence that she had been nervous
      before her testimony started, but had quite "enjoyed herself" in the
      witness box.

      "Mr Milosevic is a worthy adversary when it comes to a discussion and
      argument," she said.

      "I'd say he was rather belligerent and a little hostile to begin with, but
      I think despite himself he found himself warming to me as our discussion
      went on.

      "In fact, by the end, it was becoming far more of an exchange rather than
      an inquisitorial situation."

      Ms Rowland rejected the suggestion that her testimony at a war crimes trial
      might put journalists at risk during future conflicts. She stressed that
      her decision to testify had been a matter of personal conscience.
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