Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


The trial of Slobodan Milosevic resumed on Friday. The hearing began with Milosevic objecting to the trial chamber’s ruling denying his request for medical treatment. Milosevic says he intends appeal the decision.


Milosevic has been diagnosed with severe hypertension and is at high risk for a heart attack or stroke. Russian cardiologists from the world-renowned Bakoulev medical center in Moscow believe that they can effectively treat his condition.


The doctors retained by the tribunal have been unable to adequately treat Milosevic, and as a result the trial has been adjourned several times on account of his ill-health.


The Tribunal’s decision is a slap in the face to the Russian Government. The Russian Government guaranteed that it would return Milosevic to the tribunal’s custody after he was treated by the physicians at the Bakoulev center.


In its ruling the tribunal stated, “the Chamber notes that the Accused is currently in the latter stages of a very lengthy trial, in which he is charged with many serious crimes, and at the end of which, if convicted, he may face the possibility of life imprisonment. In these circumstances, and notwithstanding the guarantees of the Russian Federation and the personal undertaking of the Accused, the Trial Chamber is not satisfied that the first prong of the test has been met—that is, that it is more likely than not that the Accused, if released, would return for the continuation of his trial .”


What the tribunal is saying is that the Russian Government can not be trusted to apprehend a 64-year-old man with a heart condition if he tried to escape. For all of its empty rhetoric about human rights, what the Hague Tribunal has shown by its decision is that it is perfectly happy to imperil a man’s life just for the sake of politics.


After Judge Robinson announced that he would not hear any objections to the ruling. Milosevic continued with the examination of James Bisset, the Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia between 1990 and 1992.


Bisset testified that the United States initially supported the preservation of Yugoslavia. He noted James Baker’s statement that the U.S. supported the use of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) to put down the secession of Slovenia and Croatia.


Bisset said Germany’s foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, was partly to blame for the break-up of Yugoslavia. He said that the German government and Genscher in particular exerted pressure on the European Community by threatening to walk out of the EC and recognize Slovenia and Croatia unilaterally. 


Contrary to the prosecution’s assertions that Milosevic provoked the Krajina-Serbs to rebellion. Bisset testified that Serbs in Croatia were provoked by the Croatian government which was dismissing them from their jobs and expelling them from their homes.


Bisset testified that Milosevic had no ambition to create “greater Serbia.” He said that the prosecution’s thesis that Milosevic engaged in a criminal conspiracy to expand Serbia’s territory was “pure fantasy”.


The witness testified that Milosevic worked for peace, and that all of the peace plans Milosevic supported for Bosnia and Croatia would have made any expansion of Serbia’s territory impossible.


Bisset, who met with Milosevic several times in his capacity as Canada’s ambassador, said that Milosevic supported the preservation of Yugoslavia, but was willing to allow others to secede as long as human rights were protected and as long as the secession was carried out in accordance with Yugoslavia’s laws and constitution.


Unfortunately Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia did not secede in accordance with the provisions of the Yugoslav constitution. In stead they opted for war carried out their secession through violence.


Speaking of the JNA, Bisset testified that they were subordinated to the federal authorities, not to Milosevic as claimed by the prosecution.


Bisset testified that Milosevic used his political influence to obtain peace. He recalled how Milosevic used his political influence to exert pressure on Milan Babic to accept the Vance Plan in Croatia.  


The former Canadian ambassador testified that American interference caused war to erupt in Bosnia and Kosovo.


He testified that in March 1992 (one month before the outbreak of war in Bosnia) Portuguese diplomat Jose Cutilhiero brokered a peace agreement in Lisbon between Bosnia’s Serbs, Croats, and Muslims.


Bisset said that the agreement had been signed by Karadzic for the Serbs, Boban for the Croats, and Izetbegovic for the Muslims. The witness, a career diplomat, believed that the Cutilhiero plan was a good plan that would have avoided war in Bosnia if it had been implemented.


Unfortunately the Cutilhiero plan was never implemented. Bisset testified that the American ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmerman, flew to Sarajevo and met with Izetbegovic. He testified that Zimmerman sabotaged the peace plan by encouraging Izetbegovic to remove his signature from the agreement.


Soon after his meeting with Zimmerman, Izetbegovic reneged on the agreement and civil war broke out in Bosnia.


Far from being the peace seeking humanitarians they claimed to be, Bisset testified that the Clinton Administration prolonged the Bosnian war by sabotaging the Vance-Owen plan and the Owen-Stoltenberg plan.


In Kosovo, Bisset testified that NATO caused the very humanitarian catastrophe that it blamed on Milosevic. He said that prior to the NATO bombing there were only a handful of Kosovo refugees. Once the NATO bombing began, the flow of refugees went from a being a trickle to a flood.


The former Canadian ambassador testified that American intransigence made war unavoidable in Kosovo. He testified that Madeline Albright attached Annex B to the Rambouillet Agreement. Annex B would have given NATO the right to occupy all of Yugoslavia, not just Kosovo. Bisset said that no government on Earth could have accepted such an agreement. He pointed out that senior level U.S. diplomats have even admitted that Rambouillet was a provocation that was intended to give NATO an excuse to attack.


It is worth noting that NATO’s original excuse for attacking Yugoslavia was Yugoslavia’s refusal to sign the Rambouillet Agreement. The bombing only became a “humanitarian mission” after it caused the humanitarian catastrophe that NATO blamed on Milosevic.


In Bisset’s opinion, Kosovo-Albanian secessionists opted for war because they had seen that violence was an effective means to achieve independence in Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovenia.


He testified that NATO used the Kosovo war to transform itself from a defensive organization into a renegade force that sees itself as having the power to wage aggressive war notwithstanding UN charter.


Bisset was critical of NATO’s unwillingness to implement UN Resolution 1244 in Kosovo. He said that NATO did not protect the non-Albanian population, and as a result nearly a quarter of a million non-Albanians have been expelled from Kosovo. He also said that NATO has allowed Albanian extremists to destroy more than 160 medieval Serbian churches and cultural monuments in Kosovo.


Not wishing to hear any criticism of NATO, the tribunal cut off Bisset’s examination-in-chief.


Mr. Nice then cross-examined Bisset. It is worth noting that Mr. Nice didn’t challenge most of the testimony that Bisset gave during the examination-in-chief. Nearly all of it stood unopposed.


In stead Mr. Nice challenged some magazine articles that Ambassador Bisset wrote about Racak, Srebrenica, and the Hague Tribunal.


In one of his articles Bisset claimed that Racak was a hoax. He based his conclusion on the forensic evidence found by the Finnish forensic team that examined the bodies of the so-called “massacre victims.” The forensic evidence indicated that the people had not been shot at close range and that they had been shot from various angles. In light of the forensic evidence they could not have been executed as claimed by the Tribunal.


Mr. Nice challenged Bisset by asking him if he had spoken to survivors of the alleged massacre. Bisset said that he had not interviewed survivors.


This is typical for Mr. Nice. He accused Bisset of making an irresponsible statement because he didn’t take the stories of the Albanians into account. But it doesn’t matter what the Albanians say, Bisset based his article on the scientific evidence. If the Albanians say something that is at odds with science then they’re lying. If an Albanian says the Sun revolved around the Earth it doesn't make it true.


Mr. Nice accused Bisset of being irresponsible for criticizing the Hague Tribunal, and branding the proceedings against Milosevic a “Stalinist show trial.” Bisset said that he made that remark when the tribunal denied Milosevic the right of self-representation.


Of course being accused by Bisset is the least of the tribunal’s public relations concerns. The fact that they’re denying a 64-year-old heart patient medical treatment is even worse than denying him the right of self-representation. Denying Milosevic the medical treatment he needs could kill him.


On Srebrenica Mr. Nice scolded Bisset for expressing doubt that 8,000 Muslims had really been executed there.


Bisset explained that the number 8,000 came from the Red Cross which reported that 8,000 Muslims were missing from Srebrenica after the enclave fell. 5,000 of the 8,000 were already reported missing *BEFORE* the enclave fell (i.e. before the Serbs got there), and the remaining 3,000 were reported missing when the enclave fell.


Bisset said that the media simply jumped to the absurd conclusion that all 8,000 of the missing Muslims had been executed by the Serbs. They did not take into account that there was two-way combat in the area and that many (if not most) of the supposed “massacre victims” died while attacking the Serbian lines in a failed bid to link Srebrenica up with Tuzla.


Mr. Nice said that Bisset of advocated the Serbian cause. The ambassador responded by saying that the Serbs have been wrongfully demonized by Western politicians and media organizations, and that somebody needs to defend them and set the record straight.


Following the conclusion of Mr. Nice’s cross-examination the witness was briefly re-examined by Milosevic. The trial will resume with a fresh witness next Monday.

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