VOJISLAV SESELJ – DAY 9: THE CROSS-EXAMINATION
www.slobodan-milosevic.org - September 6, 2005
Written by: Andy Wilcoxson
President Milosevic completed his examination-in-chief of Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj at the Hague Tribunal on Tuesday.
Milosevic ended his examination by playing a videotape of Srebrenica’s Muslim police chief telling a Dutch TV station that Clinton had promised Izetbegovic NATO military intervention against the Serbs as far back as 1993 if at least 5,000 Muslims could be killed in Srebrenica.
Seselj said that he had information confirming that some Muslims had been executed in Srebrenica, but nowhere near the 8,000 claimed by the Muslims. He said that the number was closer to 1,200, but the number had been inflated by the Muslims to facilitate the NATO attack on Republika Srpska.
Seselj testified that Serbia arrested several criminals who executed Muslims in Srebrenica. He said that the group responsible was named “Pauk” and that they were mercenaries acting in the service of French intelligence.
In 2000 the Serbian government arrested several members of “Pauk” and charged them with crimes related to Srebrenica. They also discovered that this same group was plotting the assassination of Slobodan Milosevic.
After DOS took power in the coup of October 5, 2000, the members of “Pauk” were set free by the pro-Western regime – in spite of the fact that they had been identified by Drazen Erdemovic as having taken part in the Srebrenica killings.
Serbian police arrested Erdemovic in 1996. He was extradited to the ICTY at his own request where he was convicted of killing more than100 Muslims from Srebrenica. Erdemovic, an ethnic Croat, plead guilty and was given a slap on the wrist; he is a free man today having served less than 4 years in prison.
The Hague Tribunal has not sought to prosecute any of the men who participated in the executions together with Erdemovic.
After Milosevic concluded the examination-in-chief Mr. Nice began to cross-examine Dr. Seselj, but with little success.
The prosecutor began by asking Seselj to explain public statements he had given against the tribunal. This exercise provided some comic relief, but it didn’t really help the prosecutor.
Mr. Nice asked Seselj about several public statements that he allegedly made. One of the statements attributed to Seselj was, “as long as there are fools in Serbia, I don't have to worry about my political career.”
Seselj denied making the statement and said that Vuk Draskovic had falsely attributed it to him in the media.
Mr. Nice asked Seselj about statements that he made threatening Croatian fascists and Islamic fundamentalists. Seselj did not deny making threats against Ustashas and Muslim fundamentalists, but said some of those statements were bluffs because he didn’t have the means to make good on them. Further, they were directed towards fundamentalists and fascists – not towards Croats or Muslims in general.
Mr. Nice embarked on his usual practice of quoting sentences and sentence fragments out of context. This led Seselj to finally demand that any speech or public statement of his that Mr. Nice relies on during the cross-examination should be exhibited in its entirety.
Nearly every quote that Mr. Nice came up with could easily be explained by simply reading a couple of paragraphs of context around the quote. Mr. Nice, quite deliberately, read Seselj’s words out of context so that he could paint a false picture of what had been said, and in that deceitful way attempt discredit the witness.
Mr. Nice also tendered a suspiciously mistranslated transcript of an interview that Seselj gave to the BBC’s “Death of Yugoslavia” program. In their transcript the BBC claims that Seselj said that Milosevic was politically successful when he adopted a “nationalist” political platform.
When the videotape of the interview was played the interpreters confirmed that the word Seselj used was “national” not “nationalist.”
For his part Seselj denied that Milosevic was ever a nationalist. He also expressed satisfaction over the fact that the Serbian Radical Party got a $500 donation from the BBC in exchange for that interview.
Mr. Nice will continue to cross-examine Seselj when the trial resumes on Wednesday.
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