Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Courtside: Milosevic Trial

By Chris Stephen in The Hague (TU No. 291, 25-29 November, 2002)
By IWPR

In one conversation, Milosevic is heard discussing a plan to unite Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia - the so-called Ram Plan - with Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.


Milosevic is heard to instruct Karadzic to get weapons from the commander of the Yugoslav army garrison in the Bosnian town of Banja Luka.


Prosecutors say this evidence proves that Milosevic was instrumental in the ethnic cleansing and other horrors perpetuated by Serb forces in Bosnia and Croatia, despite the fact that these places were, on paper, outside the remit of Milosevic, who was president of Serbia.


Prosecutors say that by using two chains of command - one military, one through the secret service - Milosevic exerted total control.


This extended to controlling the Yugoslav army, despite the fact that, formally, it was under the control of the federal government and not the Serbian republic.


C-061’s evidence included identification of voices on around fifty intercepted telephone conversations.


He said in the case of Serb-held areas of Croatia, Milosevic controlled the self-proclaimed Serbian Krajina Republic through Serbian secret police chief Jovica Stanisic and his deputies, Frenki Simatovic and Radovan "Badza" Stojicic.


Milosevic’s hold was so complete that the Krajina parliament was forced to follow his wishes - including blocking attempts by the United Nations to broker a peace deal.


In one case, the assembly was compelled to reverse its decision to shift a Milosevic placemen, Milan Martic, from interior minister to minister of defence because - Milosevic insisted Martic remain in his existing post.


Milosevic denied the claims, saying during his cross-examination that he had no control over Krajina. “Why should I care about your internal quarrels?” he asked.


The witness said these were not internal quarrels, “but the manner in which you – by means of State Security Agency and Milan Martic – exerted influence and established control over the armed forces in Krajina, in order to use them for your own purposes.”


Chris Stephen is IWPR bureau chief in The Hague.