Written by: Andy Wilcoxson

Slobodan Milosevic completed his re-examination of Col. Vlatko Vukovic at the Hague Tribunal on Wednesday. He presented a document detailing the battalion rules of the Yugoslav Army. This document was written in 1988 and used the term “ciscenje” to describe the removal of enemy forces from Yugoslav territory.

The term “ciscenje” had been commonplace in Yugoslav Military terminology for more than 10 years before the Kosovo war. Therefore, there is nothing unseemly about the term appearing in the Vukovic’s war diary.

During the cross-examination Mr. Nice showed Col. Vukovic a photograph of an Albanian civilian who he said been burned by Serbian soldiers. Milosevic asked Vukovic if he had occasion to see such injuries during the war. The witness explained that NATO used incendiary bombs in Kosovo and that he saw several people who had been burned like that during the war.

Milosevic ended the re-examination by asking Col. Vukovic whether he knew of cases where Albanian civilians fled to inner-Serbia to escape the NATO bombing. Col. Vukovic confirmed that he was aware of such cases. Obviously, if Albanians were fleeing to inner-Serbia they weren’t trying to escape from the Serbs.

Milosevic asked him where his unit’s command post was located, and Col. Vukovic explained that it was located in the village of Brekovac. Milosevic asked if Albanians had been ethnically cleansed from Brekovac and the witness responded that Albanians remained living in the village throughout the war, and that several of them lived quite close to his command post.

The next witness to take the stand was General Geza Farkas. Gen. Farkas was the chief of the Security Dept. of the Yugoslav Army during the Kosovo war, prior to that he was an assistant deputy minister in the Yugoslav Defense Ministry.

He began his examination-in-chief by explaining that the objective of the Albanian terrorists in Kosovo was to create an ethnically pure greater-Albanian state.

The witness, who had been involved in counter-intelligence activities in the Yugoslav Army since the 1960s, explained that organized Albanian terrorism in Kosovo dated back to the 1970s. He said that several Albanian terrorists infiltrated the JNA during the 1980s, and that there are more than 200 criminal prosecutions to confirm that fact.

The bulk of Gen. Farkas’s testimony dealt with the activities and structure of the Yugoslav Army during 1998 and 1999. He explained the role of volunteers in the army. He said that volunteers were the same as any other soldier, except that they volunteered for service instead of being drafted. He said that foreign spies, members of paramilitary groups, criminals, and the mentally or physically unfit were banned from volunteering for military service. If entire groups of people volunteered, then measures were taken to break-up the group among various army units.

Gen. Farkas devoted a great deal of his testimony to the measures that were taken to prevent and punish criminal conduct in the ranks of the army. He showed the court several orders, in which soldiers were commanded to refrain from criminal conduct and to report crimes whenever they occurred.

Gen. Farkas confirmed that some crimes had been committed by Yugoslav soldiers in Kosovo, but denied that they were committed in a widespread or systematic manner. He said that individuals and small groups of up to three people committed crimes. He said that whenever evidence of crimes came to light, the military judiciary energetically prosecuted the perpetrators.

As the chief of military security, Gen Farkas often met with Milosevic during the Kosovo war. He explained that Milosevic’s attitude towards criminal conduct in the army and police was extremely negative. The witness said that Milosevic ordered the army and police to take all conceivable measures to prevent crimes from even happening in the first place.

Milosevic was also very concerned about the possibility of Serbian paramilitary groups becoming active in Kosovo. Milosevic ordered that no paramilitary groups be permitted to operate anywhere in Kosovo. According to Gen. Farkas, Milosevic authorized the army to blockade the border with Republika Srpska in the event that Serbian paramilitary activity was detected there.

Gen. Farkas said that when Milosevic learned of crimes committed by reserve policemen who had associated with Slobodan Medic “Boca,” he became extremely angry. He demanded an explanation of how the Skorpions commander could have been active in Kosovo, then he demanded that the perpetrators be prosecuted and that nothing like that be permitted to happen in the future.

In view of his high position in the military chain of command, Milosevic asked Gen. Farkas whether he had any knowledge about the so-called “Joint Criminal Enterprise” alleged by the indictment. The witness answered that it was impossible that a conspiracy to ethnically cleanse Kosovo of its Albanian population could have existed within the army. He explained that such a conspiracy would have had to be implemented by soldiers on the ground, and that too many people would have had to be involved.

He explained that each soldier was given a document detailing international humanitarian law. The soldiers were ordered by the general staff to ignore any orders that would have violated international humanitarian law, and to report the officer giving the illegal orders to their superior.

Gen. Farkas said that the NATO bombing campaign and KLA propaganda forced the refugees to flee from Kosovo.

The witness said that the KLA exploited the mass-exodus of refugees by mingling among the refugees and slipping across the Kosovo-Albania border undetected.

Milosevic ended the examination-in-chief by asking the witness what the term “ciscenje” meant in military circles. The witness explained that it meant the removal of enemy forces.

Mr. Nice spent the last 30 minutes of the day cross-examining Gen Farkas. The prosecutor asked if the witness had any information on Racak. The witness said that he did not have any information, which isn’t surprising since the Army was not in Racak during the anti-terrorist operation, which was carried out exclusively by the police on January 15, 1999.

The prosecutor also asked the witness to explain how the bodies of approximately 800 Kosovo-Albanians wound-up at a police facility in Batajnica. Gen. Farkas said that he had no information about that.

The prosecution alleges that Serbian police dug-up the remains of hundreds of Kosovo Albanians during the war, and transported them in stolen refrigerator trucks to a police facility in Batajnica where they re-buried the corpses. It is the prosecution’s case that the Serbian police managed to do this completely undetected. There is no contemporaneous evidence to suggest that anybody had any information about this massive corpse-hiding operation until 2001, more than two years after the end of the Kosovo war.

Milosevic contends that the bodies were moved to Batajnica after he was overthrown. He has presented evidence showing that it would have been impossible to undertake such an operation during the war undetected.

He has shown the court the death certificates for several of the corpses found in Batajnica. These death certificates were dated 1999, and were publicly accessible. The obvious conclusion is that the bodies weren’t moved to Batajnica to hide the fact that they were dead. They were moved there to incriminate Serbia, and give Serbia’s puppet regime the political justification to hand Milosevic over to the ICTY.

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