www.slobodan-milosevic.org – February 14, 2006

Written by: Andy Wilcoxson

Prosecutor Hildegard Uertz-Retzlaff completed her cross-examination of Montenegro’s former SFRY presidency member Prof. Branko Kostic at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic on Tuesday.

Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff continued her previous line of questioning regarding the Carrington proposal. The prosecution believes that Milosevic caused Yugoslavia’s destruction by opposing the Carrington proposal, which called for the dissolution of Yugoslavia along its internal republican borders.

The prosecutor also questioned Kostic about the Vance Plan. During his examination-in-chief Kostic stated that he did not know of any violations of the Vance Plan from the Serbian side.

It turns out that there was an instance when the Serbian side technically violated the Vance Plan. The Vance Plan called for all rifles and heavy weapons to be handed over to the UN. Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff procured a UN report where it was written that some Krajina-Serb police officers had been found to be in possession of automatic rifles.

The UN report did not say that these police officers ever used the rifles, only that the rifles had been found in their possession.

In spite of the fact that possession of banned weapons is the most minor violation imaginable, Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff acted as though she had caught the witness in some huge lie. She crowed “but the Serbian side violated the Vance Plan!”

The prosecutor did not provide a single example of a serious violation such as the Serbian side launching an attack.

Unfortunately, the same thing can not be said of the Croatian side. Nearly four years after the Vance Plan was adopted, Croatia over-ran the UNPA’s and launching Operation Storm and Operation Flash. Those operations resulted in the wholesale ethnic cleansing of approximately a quarter-million Krajina-Serbs. Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff conveniently neglected to mention that little fact from her discussion of Vance Plan violations.

Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff also questioned the witness about the transfer of JNA material to the Krajina-Serb Territorial Defense (TO).

Kostic confirmed that the JNA left much of its equipment and weaponry to the Krajina-Serb TO when it left the RSK in 1991. Kostic testified and a report of the UN Secretary General confirmed that the weapons the JNA left for the TO were placed in UN warehouses under the double-key system pursuant to the Vance Plan.

Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff asked the witness what he knew about the 30th and 40th personnel centers of the VJ, which paid pensions and benefits to former JNA soldiers who lived outside of the FRY. The witness did not know anything because he had withdrawn from politics before any of that was set-up.

The prosecutor ended the day by questioning the witness about a series of letters and reports, which alleged misconduct by JNA soldiers stationed in Croatia. The entire exercise was for naught. Kostic had not seen any of the material that Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff showed him.

Kostic was a member of the federal presidency. He explained that it was the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense, and the military judiciary to investigate criminal complaints against JNA soldiers.

The only thing that Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff showed him was a series of accusations, many of which were made by hostile NGO’s or by Tudjman’s government. She did not show him any proof to back-up the accusations, or the results of any investigations that might have been carried out. All in all it was a pointless exercise.

Prof. Kostic gave a lengthy analysis of the 1974 Bosnian Constitution, which was in force when Bosnia seceded from Yugoslavia.

According to Article I of its constitution, Bosnia was an equal state of Serbs, Croats, and Muslims and it was an integral part of Yugoslavia.

The 52nd amendment of the Bosnian constitution stated unequivocally that Bosnia’s borders and territorial status could not be changed unless two-thirds of all eligible voters vote in favor of the change in a referendum.

In Bosnia’s referendum, held on February 29, 1992, 62% of eligible voters voted in favor of secession, which means that the referendum failed because less than the required two-thirds voted for it. Two-thirds is 66.6%, and 62% is less than that.

Bosnia’s secession from Yugoslavia was illegal no matter which way you slice it. The referendum on secession was called in an illegal fashion, but even if it had been legal it still failed because less than the required two-thirds voted in favor.

After Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff completed her cross-examination, Milosevic began his re-examination of the witness.

There were only a few minutes left in the day when Milosevic began the cross-examination. He spent most of the time reading from the UN Secretary General’s report on the implementation of the Vance Plan.

The report said that the Serbian side was complying, and that the Croatian side was not. It also said that the majority of “Serbian crimes” against Croats in the RSK were perpetrated by Serbian refugees who had been expelled from other parts of Croatia.

Milosevic also corrected Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff’s erroneous interpretation of one of his speeches. During the cross-examination she claimed that Milosevic had made a speech where he said he was activating Serbia’s reserve police force in connection with the wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

Milosevic read the text of the speech, which made it clear that he activated the reserve police to respond to provocations that were being carried out in Kosovo and Sandjak. The speech had nothing to do with Croatia or Bosnia.

Milosevic will continue to re-examine Kostic when the trial resumes on Wednesday.

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