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The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic

Introduction   |   The Charges   |   The Breakthrough   |   The Defense   |   Towards A Global Court

The Breakthrough

Then, investigators scored a breakthrough. In October 2001, prosecutors released the names of Serbian officials under investigation as members of Milosevic's "joint criminal enterprise." ICTY lawyers calculated that some people on the list might decide to cooperate with investigators rather than face the possibility of criminal indictments.

By the end of 2001, dozens of former Serbian officials, including some of Milosevic's closest cohorts, had agreed to testify against him, according to chief trial attorney Jeffrey Nice. Based on names released in the Croatia and Bosnia indictments, those officials could include members of Serbia's security service (RDB), the backbone of Milosevic's secret state.

Legal sources in Serbia say tribunal officials have tried to secure the testimony of a key player in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia—Jovica Stanisic. As head of the Serbian security service, Stanisic was Milosevic's chief spymaster until he was sacked in 1998 after reportedly disagreeing with Milosevic and the former leader's wife over Kosovo policy.

The security service assumed command authority and directed key field operations in western Kosovo during the air war, according to numerous fighters interviewed by American RadioWorks.

Massacre at Cuska
A May 14, 1999 assault on the western Kosovo village of Cuska left dozens of unarmed ethnic Albanian men dead.

These security units were lead by the Unit for Special Operations (JSO) under the command of Franko Simatovic and Milorad Ulemek Lukovic. Among many attacks allegedly led by Lukovic was a May 14, 1999 assault on the western Kosovo village of Cuska, in which dozens of unarmed ethnic Albanian men were executed. Serbian eyewitnesses say Lukovic ordered the attack in a May 11 meeting in nearby Pec, after announcing to local commanders that he had orders from Belgrade that all ethnic Albanian villages in western Kosovo were to be destroyed and Albanian civilians deported.

During the Kosovo war, JSO and other elite units were only one or two levels removed from Slobodan Milosevic, according to police and army commanders interviewed by American RadioWorks.

Michael Scharf says these are the kind of fine details the ICTY must show in order to convict Milosevic.

"In order to prove that Milosevic had effective control, you're going to have to allow the judges to look inside the black box of the Yugoslav national security council and find out how decisions were made, what was Milosevic saying during those meetings, how was that interpreted and how did commanders respond," says Scharf.

Next: The Defense

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