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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Analysis: The men Milosevic fears
Mr Milosevic reviewing troops
Mr Milosevic's control of security forces has to be proven

The former Serbian security chief's testimony at the war crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic has established that the Yugoslav leader was fully aware of everything that happened in Kosovo.

Rade Markovic
Rade Markovic: First damaging insider

As one of the first "insider" witnesses to have helped the prosecution pursue its case against the former Yugoslav president, his evidence is likely to have unnerved Mr Milosevic as much as it delighted prosecutors.

When asked on Friday - Rade Markovic's third day in the witness box - which witnesses were likely to do most damage to Mr Milosevic, prosecution spokeswoman Florence Hartmann said: "I am listening to one of them now".

But under cross-examination, Mr Markovic's message became less helpful to the prosecution.

He said the former president had ordered that no atrocities should be carried out, no houses should be burned, and no property stolen.

Desperation

Before Mr Markovic took the stand, some observers had detected a degree of desperation in the prosecution ranks.


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

  • Once prosecutors boasted that 20 insiders could be called to give evidence about Kosovo.

    But recently one prosecutor was quoted as saying just one crucial witness might be sufficient to prove the case against Mr Milosevic.

    Time is running out, with just three weeks for the prosecution to finish its case after the summer recess.

    But speculation is still rife, particularly in Belgrade, about the possibility of a "killer" witness emerging and striking a powerful blow.

    Key witness

    One man the prosecution is keen to persuade to give evidence is Mr Milosevic's predecessor as Yugoslav president, Zoran Lilic, and deputy prime minister from 1997 to 1999.

    "This witness is of the greatest importance," prosecutor Geoffrey Nice told the judges.

    Co-accused
    Milan Milutinovic: Serbian president
    Nikola Sainovic: former Yugoslav deputy PM
    Vlajko Stojiljkovic: former Serbian interior minister, now dead
    Dragoljub Ojdanic: former army chief of staff
    It is important for the prosecution that Mr Lilic is not one of Mr Milosevic's co-accused - men who were close to the centre of power during the Kosovo conflict, but are thought unlikely to say anything that would incriminate him or, by extension, themselves.

    However, journalists following the case caution against pinning too many hopes on Mr Lilic delivering a sensation.

    Truce attempts

    Firstly, he may not testify. He wants to get immunity from prosecution, at the highest level in Belgrade, for revealing state secrets in The Hague - and if he does not get it, he will stay silent.

    Zoran Lilic
    Lilic parted ways with Milosevic in 1997
    Secondly, while he is not named as part of the "joint criminal enterprise" which Mr Milosevic allegedly led, Mr Milosevic may try to expose Mr Lilic's role in the events for which he has been accused.

    "It's dangerous for Lilic," said Dragana Solomon of the Institute of War and Peace Reporting.

    "I am sure he would not feel comfortable about appearing."

    Belgrade journalists say Mr Lilic could reveal key information about his involvement in attempts to arrange a truce between Yugoslavia and the Western powers, which Mr Milosevic rejected.

    This prolonged the suffering of both Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, and may help prosecutors to shed light on why Mr Milosevic wanted the war in Kosovo to continue, and by extension what motivated him at the time when the conflict began.

    Chain of command

    The prosecution plays its cards close to its chest, and has refused to comment on who else might be called.

    Wild cards
    Nebojsa Pavkovic: former army chief of staff
    Jovica Stanisic: former head of Serbian security service
    Aleksandar Vasiljevic: former head of military security
    It has been rumoured in Belgrade that the former Yugoslav military chief of staff, Nebojsa Pavkovic, may have agreed to testify, following his sacking last month.

    He might give devastating evidence about the chain of command, which other witnesses have alleged ran from Mr Milosevic, and his "man for Kosovo" Nikola Sainovic, directly to Yugoslav army forces in the Kosovo region.

    However, while journalists confirm that he has been contacted by tribunal investigators, they say there is as yet "no reliable indication" that he will be going to The Hague.

    Two other men whose testimony could be devastating are: Jovica Stanisic, Rade Markovic's predecessor as head of the Serbian security service, and Aleksandar Vasiljevic, head of military security and counter-espionage in the early 1990s, who was retired and brought back as deputy head from March 1999 to 2001.

    Mr Stanisic recently helped tribunal investigators gain documentary evidence showing that the Serbian security service was subordinated directly to Mr Milosevic during his last month as Serbian president.

    Confidential talks

    Milos Vasic of Vremya magazine says he believes Mr Stanisic is trying to negotiate immunity from prosecution, and that if he does appear in The Hague, he could reveal how Serbia armed, organised and controlled Serb paramilitaries in Bosnia and Croatia.


    If he's called lots of things will be clarified, and I don't think it will help Mr Milosevic a lot

    Journalist Milos Vasic on Aleksandar Vasiljevic
    "He knows a lot," says Mr Vasic.

    "And he was also in office during the main counter-insurgency campaign in Kosovo in 1998."

    General Vasiljevic has also had confidential talks with a tribunal prosecution team, and is rumoured to have agreed to testify.

    He too could be more valuable to prosecutors in the cases relating to Bosnia and Croatia, than Kosovo.

    But observers point out that witnesses called to give evidence on Bosnia and Croatia will still be able to talk about events in Kosovo.

    Revelations about Kosovo may therefore continue even after the prosecution formally wraps up its case on the subject in mid-September.


    At The Hague

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    See also:

    26 Jul 02 | Europe
    28 Jun 02 | Europe
    25 Jul 02 | Europe
    12 Feb 02 | Europe
    26 Jul 02 | Newsnight
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