AP Slobodan Milosevic contests allegations he wanted ''greater Serb'' nation
THE BOSTON GLOBE (USA)
Slobodan Milosevic contests allegations he wanted ''greater Serb'' nation
By Anthony Deutsch, Associated Press, 9/1/2004 05:51
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) Slobodan Milosevic attacked a prosecution theory
Wednesday that he sought to carve out an ethnically pure ''greater Serbia''
in the broken Yugoslav federation, and branded the war crimes indictments
against him ''a sheer mutilation of justice.''
More than 2½ years after the trial of the former Yugoslav president began at
the U.N. tribunal, Milosevic wound up his opening statement that began
Tuesday as he laid out a series of complex conspiracies against his Serb
people involving the Kosovo Liberation Army, Osama bin Laden, the Vatican,
Croatian neo-Nazis and the CIA, among others.
Milosevic called his trial ''a farce, pure and simple.'' Charging that
prosecutors had failed to prove any of the charges, he called the
indictments a ''sheer mutilation of justice. Nothing else. What it says
there are empty words.''
''This indictment represents a sum of unscrupulous manipulation, lies,
crippling of the law, and an unjust presentation of the history,'' he said.
After he concluded, the three-judge panel asked the parties to make
submissions on a prosecution motion to name a defense lawyer for Milosevic,
who has said he would not cooperate with court-appointed counsel. The judges
have said they need to balance Milosevic's right to defend himself against
the requirements of a speedy trial, which so far has been repeatedly
interrupted by his illnesses.
Milosevic contested prosecution allegations that he fanned Serbian
nationalism and instigated a decade of Balkan wars.
He said prosecutors, lacking evidence of specific crimes, manufactured ''the
unique concept of a joint criminal enterprise,'' the term the in the
indictments referring to an alleged conspiracy to drive out Muslims, Croats
and other non-Serbs from areas designed for an expanded Serb state.
''In two years, you have not presented a shred of evidence'' to support the
charges, Milosevic told the court.
He described his own role as striving for peace while protecting the Serbs.
''Our greatest wish was to establish peace,'' he said. Inside Serbia
''during all of those 10 years, there was no discrimination against
anyone,'' Milosevic said.
Milosevic accused the Western powers in the NATO military alliance of
intervening in Kosovo in 1999, during a Serbian crackdown on the Kosovo
Albanian population, to profit from the region's natural resources of
cobalt, lead, nickel and its power plants.
He accused the former Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic of planning to
wipe out the Serbs and create an Islamic state in Europe with the assistance
of Middle Eastern fundamentalists.
''What they (U.N. prosecutors) fail to say is that the activities of the
Serbian people were activities aimed at defense,'' Milosevic said.
Milosevic, who was extradited to U.N. authorities in The Hague by Serbia in
June 2001, faces 66 counts of war crimes allegedly committed in Croatia,
Bosnia and Kosovo during the 1990s. He could be jailed for life if convicted
on any charge.
Prosecutors accuse Milosevic of orchestrating or condoning murder, the
destruction of towns and places of worship and the expulsion of hundreds of
thousands of people in an effort to create an ethnically pure ''greater
Serbia'' by funding and arming Serbian uprisings in Croatia and Bosnia.
''We did assist the Serbs, of course we did. We would have been the scum of
the earth if we had not helped them when their lives were in peril,'' he
Milosevic had been due to open his defense following the conclusion of the
prosecution's case in February. But it was postponed five times as doctors
warned that stress was raising his blood pressure to dangerous levels.