Written by: Andy Wilcoxson

Serbia’s former assistant interior minister, Gen. Obrad Stevanovic, began his fourth day of testimony at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic on Thursday.

His testimony today focused on the information that the police had regarding specific crimes alleged by the Kosovo indictment.

He indicated that the police had information about events in: Racak, Izbica, Kotlina, Suva Reka, and the Dubrava Prison. The MUP has no knowledge of the other incidents alleged by the indictment. However, Stevanovic noted that the MUP investigated nearly 1,500 incidents involving loss of life that the indictment does not mention.

He began his testimony by showing that the Serbian police took all the necessary steps to prevent crimes or – if they did occur – to identify and punish their perpetrators. During his testimony, he said that 12 police officers and 12 VJ soldiers, who had committed crimes resulting in death were arrested by the Police and prosecuted.

Milosevic then asked the witness questions about Racak. Citing official documents of the Serbian Interior Ministry, General Stevanovic confirmed, that the Racak operation was undertaken with the aim of arresting a group of terrorists responsible for the murder of a police officer. According to the documents, the terrorists opened fire using mortars, hand-held rocket launchers, and machineguns. The police fired back killing 40 terrorists. The documents demonstrated that the police had not used disproportionate force in Racak.

Stevanovic did not provide any new information about Racak, what he did do was corroborate the testimony of Danica Marinkovic, Dragan Jasovic, and Slavisa Dobricanin with the relevant documents from the Interior Ministry. All of the Serbian Interior Ministry’s files pertaining to Racak were introduced through Gen. Stevanovic.

The next incident that Stevanovic testified about was Izbica. The indictment alleges that Serbian and Yugoslav forces shelled Izbica on March 27, 1999.  It says that on March 28, 1999, forces of the FRY and Serbia surrounded the villagers, separated the men from the women and children, and then executed the men.

The prosecution called five Izbica witnesses: Ajmane Behrami, Sadik Xhemajli, Mustafa Draga, Liri Loshi, and Milazim Thaqi. Those witnesses all denied that the KLA was present in Izbica at the time (even though Liri Loshi was a KLA member, and Milazim Thaqi just so-happens to be Hashim Thaci’s cousin). The prosecution witnesses insisted that VJ and MUP forces simply came to Izbica and “executed” the hapless Albanian men for no reason at all.

The testimony of the prosecution witnesses was nonsensical, and in some cases outright absurd. Mustafa Draga claimed that he had survived the alleged Izbica execution. As proof, he brought his shirt with him to court. The shirt had holes in it, which he claimed were bullet holes left by the bullets that the Serbian police fired at him from a heavy machinegun from a distance of eight meters.

When asked to explain how the bullets that riddled the shirt he had been wearing missed hitting him, Mr. Draga claimed that he was saved by divine providence. He said, “I was saved by God to come here and testify to the truth, because only God saved me from the Serbian police.”

Another Izbica witness, Milazim Thaqi (Hashim Thaci's cousin), claimed that the Serbian police tried to execute him at Izbica too. He said that they were shooting at him from only seven meters away and that they missed him too. He claimed that God saved him too. Thaqi explained, “God saved us. And I'm here to tell the truth and only the truth, nothing but the truth.” -- Praise Jesus, Hallelujah! It’s another miracle!

Among the exhibits in Gen. Stevanovic’s possession were photographs taken at the gravesite in Izbica. One of the pictures showed a makeshift grave marker with the letters “UCK” written on it, which indicates that the person buried in the grave was a member of the KLA, the fact that the KLA was there shows that the prosecution’s witnesses were lying when they said the KLA wasn't there.

According to the Interior Ministry's documents, when the police first approached the area gunfire was directed at them, which further indicates a KLA presence.

Gen. Stevanovic testified that the police did not even know that any killings had taken place at Izbica. He said that the police first became aware of the issue when aerial photos of the gravesite appeared on the Internet. He said that it took seven days for the police to find the gravesite and launch an investigation. Obviously the police could not have taken part in something they didn't even know about.

He will continue his examination-in-chief when the trial resumes next Wednesday.

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