Written by: Andy Wilcoxson

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

Mr. Nice cross-examined Stevanovic about events at the Dubrava Prison, and about notes written in his diary.

As far as the Dubrava Prison was concerned, Mr. Nice relied on a statement that a deputy warden gave to Serbian investigators shortly after the incident.

The deputy warden claimed that a special MUP unit arrived at the prison at 5 AM on May 22, 1999. Mr. Nice claims that the MUP unit came to the prison to massacre prisoners, although there is nothing in the deputy warden’s statement that says anybody was massacred.

Gen. Stevanovic was not at the prison, and did not know what a special MUP unit would have been doing there. He told Mr. Nice to ask the Pec SUP for information about that. It is possible that the MUP came to the prison to stop the jailbreak that Col. Paponjak testified about, but Gen. Stevanovic has already testified that he doesn’t know anything about that.

The deputy warden’s statement is vague. He spoke about the evacuation of the prisoners, but did not mention where they were taken. He only says they were “taken in an unknown direction.” His statement also failed to mention all of the occasions when NATO bombed the prison, which led Mr. Nice to claim that the prison had not been bombed.

Mr. Nice claims that any mention of NATO bombing after May 21st is “a cynical attempt to blame NATO for the atrocities committed by the Serbian MUP at the Dubrava Prison.” Mr. Nice is barking-up the wrong tree, the Milosevic trial has already seen videotape evidence proving that the prison was bombed after May 21st. Col. Paponjak brought a videotape proving that the prison had been bombed on the 24th of May 1999. Furthermore, there have been prosecution witnesses, such as Jackie Rowland, who testified that the prison was indeed bombed by NATO after May 21st.

The prosecutor also cross-examined Stevanovic about the contents of his diary. Stevanovic wrote the diary for his own purposes, so the wording was rather vague in places. It contained sentence fragments and short notes that he jotted down for his own use.

In one passage the diary read: “They work perfidiously on that issue. -- They will justify the aggression with evidence of crimes -- Clean-up -- Simultaneous clean up of the territory -- We will find it harder (illegible) once the mission arrives -- The clean-up of the terrain is the most important.”

Mr. Nice claimed that this passage was a reference to a conspiracy to hide evidence of crimes committed by the army and police.

Gen. Stevanovic claimed that this was a reference to the activities of the KLA. He said that the terrain needed to be cleaned-up so that the KLA could not create mass-graves and stage atrocities out of their war casualties, and then palm them off as evidence of mass killings that would serve to justify the NATO aggression.

The KLA has a history of staging its war dead to create the false impression of a massacre. A case in point is Racak, and Gen. Stevanovic said they did the same thing at Pusto Selo and Izbica.

Obviously Stevanovic was not referring to the police’s activity. Nobody ever classifies their own activity as “perfidious” or uses the word “they” to refer to themselves.

Mr. Nice was simply exploiting vaguely worded notes that Stevanovic jotted down in his diary to concoct elaborate conspiracy theories about the Serbian police; conspiracy theories, which the witness ripped apart.

Frustrated at his lack of success, the prosecutor resorted to insults and claimed that the witness was "ready to lie in order to protect this accused." The witness naturally denied this claim.

At the end of the hearing Stevanovic was reminded to make inquiries about the “Skorpions” with the MUP headquarters in Belgrade over the adjournment. Gen. Stevanovic will continue his testimony when the trial resumes next Monday.

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