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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 15:57 GMT
Milosevic defence transcript
Day three at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia - Milosevic is second from right
Proceedings are expected to last at least two years
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic concluded his opening address at his war crimes trial in The Hague on 18 February. Below are selected excerpts from the third day of his defence, as translated from Serbian.

Mr Milosevic accused Western powers of "destroying" the former Yugoslavia.

He said the West had inflamed ethnic tensions in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina to achieve its ultimate aim - the destruction of multi-ethnic Communist countries, such as Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.

"War on the territory of Yugoslavia was incited by big Western powers. The goal of Western envoys was not to bring peace, but their interest was destroying the country and ensuring a new colonialism," he said.

"They opted for the method of national conflict... nationalism was incited, along with national hatred and national conflicts, flames were fanned to turn into a full-fledged war.

Accusations

"The instigators of war are accusing the protagonists of peace, and thanks to their powerful international position, they are playing the roles of both prosecutor and judge.

"They are accusing me and condemning me in advance for their own warmongering policies."


Serbia was not a warring party in Bosnia and Croatia. Serbia was trying to help the peace process to stop the fratricidal war

On trial for human rights abuses, he is also accused of providing political, financial, and logistical support to the Bosnian Serbs and of commanding Yugoslav troops.

"This is nonsensical," he said. "As for carrying out my own alleged orders to Republika Srpska, only somebody who knew nothing about the degree of vanity of Yugoslav politicians, especially the Serb politicians, and their intolerance towards any kind of interference by anyone else, can come with this kind of construction."

Mr Milosevic denied helping the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic drive out Muslims and Croats

Click here to return to previous transcript

"Either de jure, or de facto, I had no control over the Yugoslav people's army," he said. "This invention of command responsibility is a major lie."

He denied any knowledge of the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 and said he learned of the killings from UN special envoy Carl Bildt.

"I called Karadzic and he swore he knew nothing about it. Now, whether he did or didn't know I don't want to get into. But what I'm saying, what I'm telling you now is fact.

TV pictures

"Serbia was not a warring party in Bosnia and Croatia. Serbia was trying to help the peace process to stop the fratricidal war, the war between brethren, honestly crazy and divided. In this court everything, everything is topsy-turvy, it is absurd, everything has been reversed, and semi-truths are worse than lies very often.

"I saw on television that CNN said that, as they say, they are not showing Milosevic's photos because they are too gruesome for the public. That is their official explanation. They are not allowing their public to see their crimes and by doing that they confirmed that they are working for the crimes and deception of their own public.

"They are afraid that their public might start looking for the responsible criminals. They do not know how to explain to their public that they 'so-called' protected the Albanians by bombarding the maternity ward in Belgrade.

"It is worth staying in this prison no matter how long - just for one day of opportunity to tell the truth. Regardless of how well the truth is known around the world nobody will be able to cover it up, nor anyone can deny it.


There is a personal hatred against me. In a savage way

"And the truth is, as you were able to see in the last three days, on my side. That's why I feel superior and that's why I feel like a moral winner regardless of your paragraphs and regardless of your intentions, which became pretty obvious to everyone.

"I'm in prison but I'm a free man. My name is Slobodan with capital 'S' which means freedom in my language," he added.

Mr Milosevic also criticised the "savage attacks" on his family by Western nations and the media.

"There is a personal hatred against me. In a savage way, my family is still under attack.

"My wife, who published books that were translated in more than 30 languages... in a public effort against war.... she is the subject of the most savage media campaign."

The former Yugoslav president said Western powers had tried to overthrow him "by bribery," adding: "During the Nato bombings, they tried to kill me."

Click here for the next selection of excerpts

See also:

18 Feb 02 | Europe
First witness confronts Milosevic
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