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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 13:38 GMT
Muted response from Serbian papers
Vreme magazine
Most publications decline to offer much commentary
The BBC's Belgrade correspondent Paul Anderson reviews Serbia's press coverage in the first week of Slobodan Milosevic's trial in The Hague.

You would have expected, in this week of all weeks, oceans of Serbian newsprint about the big event in The Hague.

But Belgrade's newspapers are still curiously self-censoring, confining themselves mostly to no-frills news reports.

The commentary is largely left to the subtle skills of the political cartoonists or picture editors, just as it was in the old days.

Without exception, all the papers carry pictures capturing Mr Milosevic, dwarfed by his courtroom guards, with a look of haughty disdain for the tribunal.

Slobodan Milosevic
Columnists are more interested in those giving evidence than the man himself
"The final bill" is the blood-red, front page headline in the news magazine Vreme.

Belgrade's correspondents in The Hague swap notes with each other on the aura and body language of Mr Milosevic in the first few days. Arrogant, says one. Supremely confident, says another.

Petar Lukovic, a celebrated columnist in Serbia, says Mr Milosevic may turn out to be the normal one, and everyone around him completely deranged.

But despite this, he says, he is not going to write a single word about the trial, because everything that can be written about the former president has been written.

Co-accused

What people are interested in, he says, is the fate of the Milosevic insiders and fellow Kosovo indictees - like the former Serbian Interior Minister, Vlajko Stojiljkovic, or the former Yugoslav deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic.

Mr Lukovic is right there. Belgrade's chattering classes haven't stopped talking about the men who will or won't give evidence against the former President.

The focus of attention for many papers is on who the first protected witness will be, identified as K3.

Watching the trial in a Belgrade bar
Coverage of the trial is broadcast live
The Novosti paper predicted K3 is a former police general, Vlastimir Djordjievic, who rose to fame in the Kosovo war.

The news magazine Vreme runs a cartoon featuring the inside of an icy cave in the mountains, presumably in Bosnia, with Slobodan Milosevic staring out from a television set.

Watching the screen gloomily are Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic - the war crimes tribunal's other most wanted fugitives. A bear stands over them, casting a look of weary resignation, as if to say to them, "Just go, everyone else does".

See also:

11 Feb 02 | Europe
Milosevic allies still at large
05 Sep 01 | Europe
The Hague's wanted men
Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


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