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 Friday, 8 March, 2002, 16:14 GMT
Al-Qaeda 'helped Kosovo rebels'
Slobodan Milosevic
Milosevic has been cross-examining witnesses himself
The former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic has told his war crimes trial in The Hague that al-Qaeda members assisted Balkan rebels in their fight for independence from Serbia.

It's not true there were mujahideen in Kosovo. That is a figment of your imagination

Prosecution witness Sabit Kadriu
The former president made the allegations while cross-examining Sabit Kadriu, a Kosovan human rights worker who testified on Thursday about seeing Serb massacres in Kosovo in 1999.

Mr Milosevic quoted from an alleged FBI report which he said proved that al-Qaeda had established a terrorist network in Kosovo to help the Muslim population.

The former president focused on specific massacres of Kosovo Albanian families, alleging they fell victim to Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) clashes with Serb forces.

The prosecution aims to show Mr Milosevic bore direct responsibility for atrocities carried out by Serb forces.

The former Yugoslav leader said the document, which he identified as a Congressional statement from the intelligence service dated last December, proved the existence of al-Qaeda and mujahideen support for Muslim fighters in Kosovo, Bosnia and Chechnya.

But Mr Kadriu said he knew nothing of activity by al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Kosovo, where a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanians triggered Nato strikes in 1999.


Slobodan Milosevic
Milosevic charges
  • Genocide
  • Crimes against humanity
  • Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions
  • Violations of the laws or customs of war

    Click here for a full list of charges

  • "It's not true there were mujahideen in Kosovo. That is a figment of your imagination," Mr Kadriu said.

    There were often heated exchanges between the accused and the witness, and judges had to intervene to bring them back to dealing with the charges themselves.

    "The KLA was a liberation army and you were mutilating and killing civilians," said Mr Kadriu, the 14th prosecution witness.

    "We know whose speciality this is," Mr Milosevic retorted. "It is the al-Qaeda branch in Kosovo."

    Clearly frustrated by the tribunal's efforts to rein in his questioning, Mr Milosevic snapped back at Presiding Judge Richard May: "I'd like to ask you not to give me instructions, please."

    High-profile testimony

    Europe's biggest war crimes trial since the end of World War II began on 12 February, and is expected to last two years.

    The trial is hearing testimony about Mr Milosevic's alleged crimes in Kosovo before it begins to consider the indictments against him over the Bosnian and Croatian wars.

    Prosecutors are expected to call several hundred witnesses, including the UK politician, Paddy Ashdown, who is due to testify next week.

    Mr Milosevic has said he will call several world leaders, including former US President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.


    At The Hague

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    See also:

    06 Mar 02 | Europe
    01 Mar 02 | Americas
    19 Feb 02 | Europe
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