Written by: Andy Wilcoxson

Col. Milan Kotur concluded his testimony at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic on Wednesday, the former chief of the Yugoslav Army’s liaison team for the OSCE/KVM picked-up where he left off on Tuesday.

Milosevic continued to re-examine the witness about Racak. He produced more documents from the 243rd Brigade of the VJ. These documents showed that the 243rd was not engaged in Racak as claimed by the prosecution.

Another claim that was debunked during the re-examination was the prosecution’s assertion that the OSCE/KVM leadership was politically neutral. To the dismay of the prosecution, Milosevic produced a petition he had obtained from the web site of the AAK (Ramush Haradinaj’s political party). The petition, which called for an “Independent Kosova,” was signed by none other than William Walker – the former head of the OSCE/KVM.

Milosevic also had the witness read out the minutes taken at meetings between OSCE/KVM personnel and Yugoslav Army personnel. The information derived from these minutes directly refutes several assertions contained in OSCE publications, such as “As Seen As Told,” and the so-called “blue book.”

Col. Kotur was also questioned about events in Meja. Contrary to claims made by the prosecution, Kotur said that there was no massacre and no orders were given to torch houses.

Over the course of Col. Kotur’s testimony Mr. Nice came-up with several conspiracy theories that he tried to implicate the witness in. One of these theories involved the witnesses work notebook. During his testimony Col. Kotur mentioned in passing that he still had his work notebook. The defense was not seeking to enter the notebook into evidence – in fact Milosevic didn’t even know that the witness had the notebook until he mentioned it during his testimony.

Mr. Nice was very keen to see the notebook. Mr. Nice asked the witness to hand the notebook over, and the witness complied straight away. Once Mr. Nice got a hold of the notebook he must not have liked what it said because he later accused the witness of producing a counterfeit work notebook. The prosecutor said that the notebook was fake because it was in good condition. It didn’t even dawn on the prosecutor that the witness didn’t have any chance or motivation to produce a fake notebook.

Mr. Nice’s paranoia was even too much for the judges who rebuked him for his conduct. Apparently they didn’t appreciate their chief prosecutor looking like a paranoid conspiracy theorist.

After Col. Kotur concluded his evidence Milosevic asked the judges when they would rule on his request to receive medical treatment in Moscow. The judges said they had all of the documents before them and would hand down a ruling “soon”.

The next witness to take the stand was Prof. Branko Kostic. Kostic served as the president of the Montenegrin state presidency in 1989 and 1990. He served as the head of the Montenegrin delegation in the SFRY assembly, and as a member of the SFRY presidency from May 16, 1991.

Kostic testified that former SFRY Prime Minister (and prosecution witness), Ante Markovic, contributed to Yugoslavia's disintegration by doing massive damage to the Yugoslav economy.

In Montenegro, Markovic’s policies forced the government to borrow in Yugoslav dinars, but pay loans back in foreign currency. At that time the value of the dinar was plummeting rapidly on the foreign exchange markets and so more money had to be paid back than was actually borrowed.

Prof. Kostic testified about the situation of Montenegrins in Kosovo and Metohija during the 1980s. He said that thousands of Montenegrins were persecuted by Albanian nationalists in Kosovo and were forced to leave Kosovo and seek refuge in Montenegro.

Kostic said that the Montenegrin government was unconcerned with the persecution of Montenegrins in Kosovo until August of 1988 when mass protests forced the Montenegrin government to resign.

According to the prosecution, Milosevic arranged these protests. They say Milosevic arranged these protests to overthrow the government so that the government that came later would be indebted to him.

Kostic confirmed that the protestors had a favorable opinion of Milosevic, but he did not confirm the prosecution’s assertion that the new government was indebted to Milosevic. He said that if the new government supported Milosevic then it was Milosevic who should have been indebted to them.

The majority of Kostic’s testimony dealt with the outbreak of war in Yugoslavia, specifically in Croatia, during 1991.

According to intelligence that he received while he was a member of the SFRY presidency. Tudjman’s government was arming members of the HDZ and calling them "the police". He said that the number of so-called “police” in Croatia jumped from 17,000 to 92,000 over a two-month period during 1991.

He said that Croatia was establishing illegal paramilitary formations in order to attack the JNA and ethnically cleanse Croatia of its Serbian population. He testified that the weapons Croatia received were being smuggled in from Hungary.

To bear this point out he read passages from Stepjan Mesic’s book, which was originally entitled, “How I Broke-Up Yugoslavia.” Mesic, at the suggestion of Genscher, later changed the title to “How Yugoslavia Broke Up.” But in his book he openly discusses how he allowed Croatian paramilitaries to illegally seize weapons from JNA warehouses and how he let them attack the JNA at the time that he was a member of the SFRY presidency.

To further bear this point out Milosevic played an explosive videotape that had been filmed by the 12th detachment of the Yugoslav Army’s counterintelligence service (KOS).

The video, filmed in 1990 and broadcast on Yugoslav TV in January 1991, showed a conversation between Tudjman’s defense Minister Martin Spegelj and his Interior Minister Josip Boljkovac.

The two men are seen discussing preparations for war with the JNA. They discuss the importation of weapons from Hungary and how they will murder JNA soldiers and their families. Spegelj says “We will kill them on their doorstep. No one will be allowed to reach the barracks alive.”

Spegelj and Boljkovac agreed that killing women and children was OK. They discuss how grenades should be thrown into the family homes of JNA servicemen and that “no concern should be given to killing women and children.”

Boljkovac discusses how JNA servicemen will be murdered in their barracks. He says, “shove a pistol in their stomach -- one shot and that will be the end of them.”

The two men also discuss their plans to deal with the Serbian population. They discuss how they will destroy Knin and Spegelj boasts, “Knin will never be Knin again. Serbs will never be in Croatia when we’ve finished.”

Mind you this was all filmed in 1990 – BEFORE the war broke out and BEFORE the establishment of the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK).

As an American I found it particularly disturbing to see Spegelj and Boljkovac discussing the support they were receiving from the U.S. Government. They discussed how, the day after Milosevic was elected in Serbia, the U.S. Government contacted them to offer combat vehicles and assorted military equipment.

This video proves beyond any doubt that the Serbian war objective in Croatia was self-defense. In light of this sort of material, any theories offered by the prosecution about “greater Serbia,” or Serb "aggression" against Croatia are exposed as pure nonsense. The Krajina Serbs had to go to war – they had no choice – the video makes it clear that Croatia was planning to finish what it started during World War II.

Professor Kostic was visibly shaken by the videotape, he said that it brought back a lot of bad memories. He explained how Franjo Tudjman practiced holocaust denial during his election campaign. He said that Tudjman had denied the mass killings at the Jasenovac concentration camp during World War II.

It is worth noting that Tudjman wrote a book called “Impasses of Historical Reality” where he claims that the Jews controlled the Nazi concentration camps. According to Tudjman the holocaust only killed one million Jews not the six million claimed by most historians.

Kostic testified that Nazi émigrés were brought back to Croatia under Tudjman’s regime. Tudjman even appointed some of them to government posts.

Milosevic had several videotapes that he played. One of the videotapes showed an interview with Franjo Tudjman where he defends the World War II era Independent State of Croatia (NDH) as “an expression of the Croatian nation’s historic desire for an independent homeland.” Kostic commented on the video saying that the NDH was a Nazi satellite state during World War II.

Kostic testified that the Croats could have seceded from Yugoslavia peacefully if they had acted within the law and observed the constitution. He said that Croatia opted for war so that it would have an excuse to ethnically cleanse the Serbian population.

Kostic spent the last part of the day testifying about a 1991 initiative of the SFRY supreme defense counsel to declare a state of emergency that would have allowed the Yugoslav Peoples Army to effectively put down secessionist paramilitary groups and prevent interethnic conflict from breaking out.

Kostic testified that the presidency members from Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia opposed declaring a state of emergency, while Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Vojovodina supported declaring a state of emergency. Unfortunately, the vote was 4 to 4 so no state of emergency could be declared and the JNA was unable to act effectively.

Milosevic asked Kostic about particular passages from the Croatian indictment. In the Croatia and Bosnia indictments it says: “In a televised address on 16 March 1991, Slobodan Milosevic, in his capacity as President of the Republic of Serbia, declared that Yugoslavia was finished and that Serbia would no longer be bound by decisions of the Federal Presidency.”

Milosevic, who was armed with the text of the speech, had Kostic read the speech and comment on the indictment’s assertion.

Kostic read out the the speech and it turns out that the indictment is wrong. Milosevic never said that Yugoslavia was finished or that Serbia wasn’t bound by the decisions of the presidency. All Milosevic did was criticize the presidency as being ineffective.

Milosevic also asked questions about the indictment’s assertions about an incident at Pakrac. The indictment says, “The Serb police, headed by Milan Martic, took control of a police station in Pakrac and battles erupted when the Croatian government attempted to re-establish its authority in the area.”

In fact these Serb police were the same police who had always worked at that police station. Prof. Kostic explained that Croatia attacked the police station when the Serbian officers were fired for refusing to wear the Ustasha’s checkerboard emblem on their caps.

Prof. Kostic will continue his testimony when the trial resumes on Wednesday, February 1st.

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