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Milosevic accused of 'apartheid'

Milosevic finished his opening address on Monday morning  

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The first witness at the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic has accused him of imposing "apartheid" in Kosovo.

Mahmut Bakalli, the top Communist Party official in Kosovo from 1970 to 1981, took the stand in the Hague on Monday after Milosevic finished his opening defence statement.

Milosevic is accused of genocide in Bosnia's 1992-95 war and of crimes against humanity in Croatia in 1991 and in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo in 1998-99.

Bakalli said the former Yugoslav leader helped institute constitutional changes that downgraded the status of Kosovo. Many Albanians lost jobs because they refused to sign a declaration of loyalty to support such changes, he said.

Former communist leader Mahmut Bakalli testified that former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic imposed 'apartheid' in Kosovo. CNN's Walter Rodgers reports (February 19)

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"The Albanians refused to support this because they didn't want to be brought to their knees," Bakalli said. "In every aspect of life, there was apartheid. Kosovar Albanians were thrown out of their jobs and their homes."

He described violence conducted against Kosovars. When the witness told Milosevic his police and army were killing whole families, "he said 'we're killing terrorists.' "

Bakalli quit his post in 1981 in sympathy with Albanian civil rights protesters in the Yugoslav province.

In his opening statement, which he began last week, Milosevic reiterated the unfairness of the tribunal and blamed the West for the war crimes in the Balkans.

On Monday, he accused outside powers of inciting the civil wars in Bosnia and Croatia.

He said the conflicts in the "territory of the former Yugoslavia is the result of the will and interest of others, the great Western powers in fact."

"The civil war in Croatia between the Serbs and Croats, as well as the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina between Serbs, Croats and Muslims are the consequences of fanning the flames of national hatred outside the borders of Yugoslavia," said Milosevic, who called the indictments involving Bosnia and Croatia "absurd and false."

"The prosecutors are grasping at straws because they have nothing but some psychoanalytical layman's assertions, and they are attempting to depict me as somebody able to hypnotise people into going to commit crimes."

"There were a series of nonsensical things bandied about here and untruths, and everything about Bosnia-Herzegovina is a pure lie because I was engaged in peace there, not war. Serbia throughout that time waged a policy of peace," Milosevic said.

"We wanted to save as many lives as possible ... Serb lives and Croat lives and Muslim lives."

Milosevic said peace was developed in Bosnia "on the basis of a formula of an equality of rights and equal regard for the interests of all three peoples, not on the basis of genocide."

"In the civil war in Bosnia and Herzogovina, there was cruelty and there was suffering on all three sides. The guilt is primarily to be borne by those who carried out forcible secession and who started the violence, also the guilt should be borne by the strategists of this violence outside Yugoslavia."

Milosevic has threatened to call to the stand world leaders and former presidents as part of his defence.

Last week he told the United Nations' war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that he wanted to see former U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the trial.


• Milosevic: NATO attacked civilians
February 15, 2002
• Serbs denounce Milosevic defence
February 14, 2002
• Milosevic trial sees prison tape
February 13, 2002

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