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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Analysis: Milosevic and the missing link
Milosevic in court
Milosevic is faring well in public opinion battle

The trial of the former president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, has resumed after a month's break - with a sense among observers that prosecutors have yet to prove his direct responsibility for war crimes.

Women weep over coffin in Racak, Kosovo
War crimes have been proved, but not the Milosevic link
The prosecution says it is confident it can prove Mr Milosevic authorised, or at least failed to prevent, human rights abuses in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia.

But in the battle for public opinion Mr Milosevic has been doing well.

Prosecutors have produced evidence that crimes took place and that Yugoslav security forces committed them, but demonstrating the last crucial link has been more difficult.

Foreign diplomats have alleged he knew exactly what was going on in Kosovo, but two so-called "insider" witnesses, who were part of the Milosevic administration, have been less convincing.


What they're saying happened didn't happen

Jared Israel
Milosevic support group
Jared Israel of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic insists there is no link between the ex-president and war crimes.

"There is a connection between Milosevic and the policies of his government which includes the army, but as for the specific command structure no - he's not involved in day to day specific decisions about specific people. That's absurd," he said.

"What they're saying happened didn't happen. There wasn't an official policy of atrocities, it was an official policy of opposing them.

State secrets

"He was responsible in part for that policy. Therefore he's a hero."

It is clear the prosecution team need other former associates of Mr Milosevic to testify if they are to get their man.

New rules will allow officials to give evidence without revealing state secrets and the tribunal has been interviewing potential witnesses in Belgrade.

The new procedures will also allow American diplomats, particularly former Balkans envoy Richard Holbrooke to give evidence.

Dragana Nikolic-Solomon from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) in London says the case has begun to move against the former president.


He tends to get very ill after any successful witness testimony

Dragana Nikolic-Solomon
IWPR
"For those who come from time to time you can get an impression that Milosevic is doing very well especially when he's confronted by a poor Albanian farmer," she said.

"He's a bit weaker when an international figure like Paddy Ashdown comes, and he tends to get very ill after any successful witness testimony."

Mr Milosevic seems more concerned about winning the political argument over Yugoslavia's past than with defending himself against the specific charges he faces.

This makes the prosecution's work easier.

But the Tribunal was set up to allocate specific blame to individuals not to peoples or nations.

If Milosevic succeeds in portraying himself as a tragic Serbian hero, the prosecutors might find they have won the battle but lost the war.


At The Hague

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26 Aug 02 | Europe
05 Oct 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
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28 Jun 02 | Europe
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