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

Courtside: Milosevic Trial

By Chris Stephen in The Hague (TU 300, (10-15 February 2003)

But the witness told the court that he was aware that a group of civilians had been killed in a minefield near the village of Lovas in October 1991, and had discovered that a paramilitary unit called Dusan Silni was responsible.

Vasiljevic told the court that he was later dismissed from his post but had been reinstated just before the conflict began in Kosovo. In this capacity, he said, he received reports of crimes allegedly committed by interior ministry units against the civilian population.

The witness claimed that while Slobodan Milosevic had decreed that interior ministry units were subordinated to the army, this had never happened in practice. He maintained that the former Serb president's authority in Kosovo was exercised through the then deputy federal prime minister Nikola Sainovic.

Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice read out two official notes given to army security by soldiers who had witnessed crimes against Croat civilians by Serb paramilitary units. One described how a fighter had kept a bag of human ears, one of which was dropped into a glass in a pub, shocking a waitress.

Chris Stephen is IWPR's bureau chief in The Hague.