SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC – CHILD KILLER
“There was a baby shot with three bullets, screaming unbelievably loud… I heard this [Mr. Milosevic], the order not to leave anyone alive and also 10 soldiers from my company can confirm it and in no way can you deny that. I was there. I heard it and you [Mr. Milosevic] as Supreme Commander could have come down there and seen what it was like for us. You are issuing shameful orders to be carried out.” – former Serbian Army soldier during testimony exchange with late Slobodan Milosevic at the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia).
Despite the lack of a verdict the Milosevic trial collected thousands of pages of documentation which will be used in other trials and will help establish a common truth as it operates to prevent revisionism. Through the subpoena power of the court as well as its prestige, the prosecution was able to obtain records that may never have come to light otherwise. They included intercepted telephone calls between Milosevic and Bosnian-Serb leaders,transcripts of secret assembly sessions and the Republika Srpska spell, where members declared, “We have done this so Muslims will cease to exist” and Milosevic’s admission that he diverted money from Federal customs funds to support the Serbian forces in Bosnia and Croatia.
My experience tells me that not all victims found the tribunals dismal failures. Even though Milosevic avoided a verdict in his trial, I believe some witnesses who gave testimony against him, felt satisfaction. One of them was _____, a frail elderly man with a presence in court that was anything but. His son came to him one morning and said, “Father, my life is over.” His wife and child had been killed. They were found among 20 bodies in the family compound. 19 of whom were women and children.
When Milosevic insisted that people had been killed by NATO bombs, Mr.___ thundered, “No.” And described how the children were taken from the basement and massacred, how the house was burnt. He said people told him not – told him not to go there because they feared he would have a heart attack. My son said, “It is a sin to see children like that.” With what kind of human feelings can someone commit a crime of this kind against children, young people, old people? Though he was crying, his voice remained strong and clear.
Judge May, the presiding Judge asked Milosevic, if, in light of the witness’s condition he had any further questions? I do – I do, he answered, then said, “War is a crime in itself, and it is the innocent who suffer. Is it clear who created the war? You are furious because of the death of your family. Everyone would feel that way. How it came to be war?”
Mr.____ interrupted, “You! You, as president, by sending criminals, the most evil criminals, to commit crimes against children in the eyes of their mothers.”
At the end of his testimony he asked the judges if he could say something. It wasn’t done. But the judges allowed it anyway. Mr. ____ turned to Milosevic, looked him squarely in the eye and said, “I just want to ask you, how could you kill women and children? Have you no human feelings?” There was utter silence in the court room. Milosevic made no response. Other witnesses also had the chance to confront Milosevic, the man they blame most for the loss of loved ones and the destruction of their way of life.
I truly don’t think they believed the tribunal was a dismal failure. As Eric Stover concluded after conducting a study of victim witnesses who had testified at the ICTY. For many study respondents merely being in the court room with the accused while he was under guard, helped to restore their confidence in the order of things. Power, one witness, said flowed back from the accused to me. If only for a brief while this witness finally held sway over his personal tormentor and his current community’s wrong doer. It was at moments like these that tribunal justice what is –was at its most intimate.
Tribunals serve another important purpose. They provide a way for the guilty to repent and gain somepeace with the grievous harm they have caused. In the Milosevic trail, a young Montenegrin conscript called theprosecutor and asked to testify. He described being ordered with a few other soldiers to kill a group of 12 civilians they had found hiding in a house. Women, children, old people, even an infant, he told the court what happened.
“The people shot at began falling down one over the other. What I remember most vividly is how – I remember this very vividly. There was a baby shot with three bullets, screaming unbelievably loud. I came forward to give my evidence because I wanted in this way to express everything that is troubling me. That has been troubling me for the past three years, since I completed my service. Never a night goes by without my dreaming of that child hit by the bullets and crying. I thought if I came forward and told the truth that I will feel easier in my soul. It is the only reason I am here.”
During cross examination Milosevic claimed not a single officer ordered him to kill civilians. He responded. “That is not correct. I heard this, the order not to leave anyone alive and also 10 soldiers from my companycan confirm it and in no way can you deny that. I was there. I heard it and you as Supreme Commander could havecome down there and seen what it was like for us. You are issuing shameful orders to be carried out.”
Milosevic ends by asking whether any promises were made in exchange for his testimony.
“Mr. Milosevic, I am here of my own free will. Mr. Milosevic, when I tell this truth to the person, who in my opinion, is the most responsible for all the crimes, it already makes me you better, I don’t need more.”
Watch or listen full documentary titled War Crimes and the International Criminal Court at: http://fora.tv/fora/showthread.php?t=785