The Milosevic Trial VI

An important heads-up just arrived from a friend at Electric Politics:

"Hague Judge Silences Bin Laden Bosnia Testimony, as NATO’s Claims Questioned," CDelsio, BalkanAnalysis.com, February 8, 2006 

To reproduce the opening three paragraphs of this report:

  Judge Patrick Robinson immediately shut down a Western journalist on the Hague Tribunal witness stand last week, when she disclosed having seen Osama bin Laden waltz into the office of late Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic in November 1994.
  Just as veteran British journalist Eve-Ann Prentice, who covered the Yugoslav conflicts for the Guardian and the Times told of the famous OBL, Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice objected, and the judge “…cut off the testimony immediately declaring it ‘irrelevant,’” according to the defense’s recap of a devastating day of testimony.
  However, considering that the defendant, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was trying to make a case that the Bosnian Serbs were fighting because Izetbegovic wanted to create an Islamic state that would not be particularly tolerant of Serbs, it would seem that this “explosive” mention of his connection with the world’s most wanted man would in fact be quite relevant.

Eve-Ann Prentice gave her testimony in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic (IT-02-54) on Friday, February 3—eight days ago.  (Unfortunately, no Transcript has been made available yet.  And by the looks of the time-lag involved—nothing dated 2006 has yet to be posted—won’t be for quite some time.)

And so I’ve turned to other possible sources to find out more about this indisputably explosive claim linking the "World’s Most Wanted Man" with the late, former, and indeed founding President of the independent state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Okay.  Within the establishment, English-language print sources, all that I’ve been able to find is a BBC Worldwide Monitoring translation of a February 3 HINA news agency report out of Zagreb.  (Reproduced in full at bottom.)

This particular HINA report included the following explosive claim ("UK journalist testifies at former Serbian leader’s war crimes trial," Feb. 3):

  Prentice, who testified for the defence, reported about the war in Kosovo for The Sunday Times as the daily’s correspondent from Belgrade. She frequently visited Kosovo in 1998/99, and her longest stay there was in May and June 1999, at the end of NATO’s 11-week air campaign. 
  She said that Albanian civilians had told her that the KLA was calling on them to leave the province in large numbers in the interests of the Albanian cause and to use the opportunity to make Kosovo part of Albania. 

But nothing else in print. 

I also checked a lot of the electronic stuff.  Namely, posts to the relevant webpages of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (i.e., Balkan Insight), the Bosnian Institute (i.e., News & Analysis) the Coalition for International Justice (i.e., its ICTY webpage), the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (i.e., the IWPR Tribunal Project), and, last but not least, the Slobodan Milosevic Freedom Center.

Of these five possible sources, neither BIRN, the Bosnian Institute, the Coalition for International Justice, nor IWPR have reported one word that relates the testimony by Eve-Ann Prentice that she saw Osama bin Laden with her own eyes in or around the office of Alija Izetbegovic some time in 1994.

(Quick aside.  At least the IWPR’s Michael Farquhar reported another important part of Prentice’s testimony: "The witness recalled that fear of NATO bombing and pressure from the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, were in fact by far the most common explanations offered by Albanians for their decision to flee the region. Only one refugee ever told her that he was leaving because he feared the Serbian authorities, she recalled.  The Albanians in question had reportedly been told by the KLA that it was their “patriotic duty” to leave their homes, in order that the world might see how they suffered under Belgrade’s yoke. The KLA leadership apparently argued that, with NATO waiting in the wings, this was a golden opportunity to move a step closer to breaking away from Serbia and uniting with Albania." "Kosovo Through the Looking Glass," Feb. 5, 2006.—Though by this choice of titles, with its emphasis on the factually distorted and inverted nature of Prentice’s testimony, shows us what the Institute for War and Peace Reporting thinks about her testimony.)

In fact, the only one of these five electronic sources that did report the Osama bin Laden part of Eve-Ann Prentice’s February 3 testimony, and reported it in the quasi-stenographic fashion that makes this work invaluable, was by Andy Wilcoxson—a gentleman who has been painstakingly posting this and so many other similar items straight from the trial chambers of the Tribunal for so long, I lost count long ago.

Here’s the relevant passage from Andy Wilcoxson’s very professional report ("British Journalist Witnessed Osama bin Laden Entering Ilija Izetbegovic’s Office in Sarajevo," Feb. 3):

  The most explosive part of [Eve-Ann Prentice's] testimony dealt with an interview that she scheduled with Alija Izetbegovic in November 1994. While she was waiting in Izetbegovic’s foyer both she, and a journalist from Der Speigel, saw Osama bin Laden being escorted into Izetbegovic’s office. Yes *that* Osama bin Laden — the same Osama bin Laden who masterminded the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  Needless to say this evidence did not sit well with the tribunal. Mr. Nice immediately objected and Judge Robinson cut off the testimony immediately declaring it “irrelevant.”
  Milosevic tried to explain that the involvement of Islamic terrorists with the highest level of the Bosnian Muslim government shows that the Bosnian Serbs were fighting a war for self-preservation, not a war for some made-up “greater Serbia” conspiracy. Unfortunately the Judges wouldn’t have any of it so he was forced to move on.

Now.  One may have thought that an allegation by a credible source, delivering this allegation under oath, no less, that places the "World’s Most Wanted Man" in the Sarajevo office of the former President of the then-hotly contested territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina would carry a certain inherent newsworthiness along with it.  Particularly given world events since 9-11.  Given the Americans’ obsessions.  Given the Americans’ wars.  And given the Americans’ power to make their obsessions and their wars not just theirs but the entire planet’s.  Still.  Not one word about Eve-Ann Prentice’s testimony has turned up in the English-language print sources that I’ve been able to search.  (A substantial number.)  Not even one word about it in the major British newspapers in which she’s published her work on the former Yugoslavia over the years—The Times, say, and The Guardian.  But—nothing.   

And it’s not as if Eve-Ann Prentice has zero credibility within establishment circles.  After all, The Guardian selected Prentice to write its obituary commemorating the life of Ibrahim Rugova following his recent death.  ("Ibrahim Rugova: President of Kosovo devoted to the cause of peaceful resistance," Jan. 23, 2006.) 

Counter-factually, imagine a case in which a credible source testifying for the prosecution at the Milosevic trial some time in 2002 or 2003 had alleged that, in 1994, she saw Osama bin Laden at Milosevic’s office in Belgrade. 

Can you imagine the English-language print media in toto neglecting to publish her allegations?  

The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic: Kosovo, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina (IT-02-54), International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
Transcripts (IT-02-54)  

The New York Times on the Yugoslavia Tribunal: A Study in Total Propaganda Service, Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, ColdType, 2004

Slobodan Milosevic Freedom Center (i.e., best place to follow Andy Wilcoxson’s reporting)
BalkanAnalysis.com (Homepage)
ElectricPolitics.com (Homepage)

"British Journalist Witnessed Osama bin Laden Entering Ilija Izetbegovic’s Office in Sarajevo," Andy Wilcoxson, www.slobodan-milosevic.org, February 3, 2006
"Kosovo Through the Looking Glass," Michael Farquhar , Institute for War and Peace Reporting, February 5, 2006
"Hague Judge Silences Bin Laden Bosnia Testimony, as NATO’s Claims Questioned," CDelsio, BalkanAnalysis.com, February 8, 2006 

"The Milosevic Trial I," ZNet, August 31, 2004
"The Milosevic Trial II," ZNet, September 8, 2004
"The Milosevic Trial III," ZNet, September 9, 2004
"The Milosevic Trial IV," ZNet, September 9, 2004
"The Milosevic Trial V," ZNet, September 10, 2004
"The Milosevic Trial VI," ZNet, February 11, 2006




FYA ("For your archives"): Am reproducing here the BBC Worldwide Monitoring’s translation of the HINA news agency (Zagreb) report mentioned above.—Should anyone come across an English-langauge report so much as mentioning Eve-Ann Prentice’s February 3 testimony, specificallty her allegation about having seen Osama bin Laden at Alija Izetbegovic’s offices some time in 1994, please call it to my attention. 


Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring
February 3, 2006 Friday
HEADLINE: UK journalist testifies at former Serbian leader’s war crimes trial

Text of report in English by Croatian news agency HINA

Zagreb, 3 February: British journalist Eve Ann Prentice said at the trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic on Friday that Kosovo Albanians were fleeing Kosovo in large numbers in 1999 due to pressure from the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), fighters from Albania and the NATO shelling.

Prentice, who testified for the defence, reported about the war in Kosovo for The Sunday Times as the daily’s correspondent from Belgrade. She frequently visited Kosovo in 1998/99, and her longest stay there was in May and June 1999, at the end of NATO’s 11-week air campaign.

She said that Albanian civilians had told her that the KLA was calling on them to leave the province in large numbers in the interests of the Albanian cause and to use the opportunity to make Kosovo part of Albania.

The journalist also testified about the NATO shelling, including an incident on 30 May 1999, when she and three other foreign reporters were victims of an attack by two NATO planes bombing the Prizren-Djakovica road. The witness said that the man who drove the reporters was killed in the attack and that she, the other three reporters and their interpreters were injured.

Prentice said that they were helped by Yugoslav army soldiers who took them to their field medical station.

NATO told a news briefing in Brussels that there had been no attacks in that area and that the reporters were probably attacked by Serbian forces, which was broadcast by the BBC, she said.

We clearly saw NATO planes at the height of some 500-600 metres. The Portuguese reporter filmed them and the Portuguese television showed the footage, she said.

Based on this and other examples, Milosevic asked the witness if there had been an anti-Serb propaganda campaign in the West at the time.

Prentice said that since the start of the 1990s the West had a one-sided approach, with the Serbs being the main culprits attacking innocent victims.

The anti-Serb campaign was headed by politicians and generals, who were helped by too many reporters, she said, adding that many of them painted a black-and-white picture of the conflicts in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Kosovo, with the Serbs being the only ones who killed and others being unarmed.

She added that some Western politicians spoke about 100,000 Albanians killed in Kosovo, which they described as genocide, while in reality the total number of victims was 2,800, of which many were victims of NATO.

The judges conducting the trial objected to the relevance of such questions, but Milosevic’s court-appointed attorney Steven Kay said that Milosevic had the right to put them because the prosecution had introduced witnesses such as Gen Wesley Clark, commander of NATO forces in 1999, who justified actions in which they had taken part.

Prentice also spoke about seeing numerous civilian victims of the NATO bombing, particularly in housing facilities located close to military targets.

Source: HINA news agency, Zagreb, in English 1341 gmt 3 Feb 06


Postscript (March 5, 2006): Two other important items on what we like to call the strategic silence when it comes to (not) reporting the defense side of the Milosevic trial: Namely, (a) the March 1 testimony of the British Labour Party MP Alice Mahon (after which the trial was suspended until March 14), during which Mahon accused William Walker of having admitted to the stage-managing of the Racak incident, as well as stated her belief that the purpose of the war over Kosovo was the “spread of US influence in the region.”  And (b) some comments delivered on February 24 at a Trinity College (Dublin) conference, Crimes against Humanitarian Law: International Trials in Perspective, by the University of Utrecht historian Bob de Graaff, to the effect that “there was ‘no concrete evidence’ linking the former Yugoslav president with the July 1995 massacre at Srebrenica…” (here quoting a blurb in the Feb. 27 Irish Times).   (See below.) Once again, we have to turn to the invaluable work of Andy Wilcoxson to find something in English on the Mahon testimony.

Should anybody have more material, please pass it along.


"Former Member of NATO Parliamentary Assembly Testifies that NATO Deliberately Targeted Civilians During Kosovo War," Andy Wilcoxson, Slobodan Milosevic Freedom Center, February 28 – March 1, 2006

"Leading War Crimes Experts to Address Trinity Conference," Press Release, Trinity College, University of Dublin, February 23, 2006
Crimes against Humanitarian Law: International Trials in Perspective, February 24, 2006 
Institute for International Integration Studies, The Sutherland Centre, Trinity College, University of Dublin


Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring
March 1, 2006 Wednesday
HEADLINE: UK politician: "Spread of US influence" reason for NATO bombing of Yugoslavia

Excerpt from report by Serbian independent news agency FoNet

The Hague, 1 March: A defence witness for [former Serbian and Yugoslav President] Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague tribunal, Alice Mann, said today at the trial that there had been no humanitarian disaster in Kosovo, adding that the [former US diplomat] William Walker had stage-managed an incident in Racak village [in March 1999, used as a pretext for bombing].

Mann, who was the chairwoman of the British Parliamentary Committee for Peace in the Balkans and a Labour MP in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, said that "even those who bombed Yugoslavia knew that the Kosovo Liberation Army (OVK) [UCK in Albanian] had been an organized force. My experience taught me that as soon as fighting began civilians started moving out of the scene".

She accused William Walker, former chief of the Kosovo Verification Mission on the eve of the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia, saying that he had stage-managed an incident in Racak village in January 1999 when a large number of [ethnic] Albanians had been killed".

According to her, the CIA had infiltrated verifiers into Kosovo, organizing the training of OVK members.

"We should not have destroyed a country based on what Walker said," Mann added.

Asked how she found out whether Kosovo Albanians had started to leave the province, the witness replied: "Shortly before the bombing, the foreign secretary [Robin Cook] and the prime minister [Tony Blair] gave statements, and the facts also spoke for themselves. The mass movement of Albanians from Kosovo began after the bombing, which is understandable, because they were leaving in fear for their lives".

"Did your prime minister speak the truth or not?" Milosevic asked his 53rd witness, but the presiding judge, Patrick Robinson, did not allow Mann to reply to this question.

Robinson assessed as irrelevant Milosevic’s question whether the witness had attempted to organize a vote in her country over Great Britain’s participation in the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

"I thought and I still think that NATO’s attack against Yugoslavia were counter-legal," Mann said.

"What was the real reason for the bombing?" Milosevic asked.

"I think that the reason was purely political, being the spread of US influence in the region. I think that it was also linked to the breaking up of Yugoslavia. The Americans had already intervened in Krajina [region in Croatia contested between the Croatian authorities and Serb minority in Knin until 1995], they had already trained KLA [UCK] guerrillas. It was only a matter of time when the bombing would start. Bill Clinton was in trouble over domestic policy issues, just as the US prepared for war in Iraq. The USA now has a military base in Kosovo and their bases are everywhere in the world wherever interests oppose their own," Mann responded. [Passage omitted]

The trial continues.

[Source: FoNet news agency, Belgrade, in Serbian 1050 gmt 1 Mar 06]



The Irish Times
February 27, 2006 Monday

SECTION: WORLD; Other World Stories; Pg. 9
HEADLINE: Milosevic trial criticised
BYLINE: Deaglán de Bréadún

MILOSEVIC TRIAL: Criticising the judicial approach at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic currently taking place in The Hague, a Dutch historian told a conference at Trinity College Dublin there was "no concrete evidence" linking the former Yugoslav president with the July 1995 massacre at Srebrenica in which an estimated 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed.

Prof Bob de Graaff, who co-authored a report on Srebrenica which brought down the Dutch government in 2002, was addressing a conference on crimes against humanitarian law.

Analysing the role of Mr Milosevic in the events leading up to Srebrenica, Prof de Graaff, who is attached to the University of Utrecht, compared the former leader to "the sorcerer’s apprentice who had started a process that he could not stop".

Mr Milosevic, he argued, had no "de jure" control over the Bosnian Serb forces which carried out the massacre.

He was familiar with their intent, but the professor questioned whether he shared it.


Postscript (March 6, 2006): A friend just called this to my attention: "A nation on trial for its past," Peter Ford and Beth Kampschror, Christian Science Monitor, March 6, 2006.  Of course, this CSM report is terribly biased, and in the sense that virtually all of the English-language reporting on the wars over the breakup of Yugoslavia has been biased roughly for the past 15 years: The denial that a series of civil (i.e., internal) wars were precisely that.  Therefore, I find it interesting that Nerma Jelacic of the cadre-forming unit at the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network recognizes that the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro now before the International Court of Justice "is about establishing the nature of the war, whether it was aggression or whether it was civil war" (par. 14).  Remember: The International Court of Justice is under no obligation to respect, to observe, or to remain bound by the precedents of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia—very much the Show Court for the Show Trials that have accompanied the NATO-bloc’s expansion into the territories of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  Thus, for example, there is no reason to expect the real World Court to remain bound by the "genocide"-at-Srebrenica judgment handed down by the Show Court in the Krstic Appeal.  (Also see the accompanying Press Release No. 839.)  And if, as I suspect, there is every reason for the World Court to reject this Show Court judgment, it will  remove one of the two pillars (i.e., genocide) that support the Show Court’s edifice.  The other pillar being the one expressed in the serial indictments of Slobodan Milosevic et al. to the effect that, over the course of 1991-1995, the Republic of Serbia (or ethnic Serbs as a nation) waged a series of wars of aggression against the newly independent states of Slovenia, Croatia, and, ultimately, Bosnia and Herzegovina.  However, since, in the civil (i.e., internal) wars that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia, what was always at stake was the fate of the SFRY and the place of its Republics, its "nations," and its "nationalities," and the like, within the SFRY or a successor state or states, there never really was a war of aggression—until NATO’s aggression against Serbia and Montenegro the spring of 1999, that is.

No genocide.  No wars of aggression.

Only show trials.  And show courts.

(But also show humanitarians.  Show historians.  Show journalists.  And the assorted enforcers who grew up serving the lot of them.)



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