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Milosevic used war 'with pleasure'

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic destroyed Yugoslavia "with pleasure by war," a witness at his war crimes trial said during heated exchanges.

Milosevic vigorously cross-examined former head of the Communist Party in Kosovo, Mahmut Bakalli, on Tuesday at the International Criminal Court for Former Yugoslavia in the Hague.

Bakalli, who took part in talks to defuse tension after clashes between Serb security forces and ethnic Albanian rebels in 1998, accused Milosevic of destroying Yugoslavia's ethnic harmony.

"You ruined every idea for such a Yugoslav future," he said.

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Bakalli testified that Milosevic imposed 'apartheid' in Kosovo. CNN's Walter Rodgers reports (February 19)

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"You, Mr. Milosevic, destroyed Yugoslavia with pleasure by war."

The ousted Serb strongman was at loggerheads with ethnic Albanian politician Mahmut Bakalli almost from the outset of a four-hour cross-examination on the sixth day of Europe's biggest war crimes trial since World War Two.

Milosevic challenged Bakalli's account of a Serbian campaign to impose "apartheid" on Kosovo's Albanian majority in the 1990s. Prosecutors say this was a prelude to "ethnic cleansing" by Milosevic's forces in the southern Serbian province in 1999.

Bakalli had earlier accused Milosevic of a "scorched earth" policy towards Kosovar Albanians.

Milosevic has refused to enter pleas to charges 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.

Milosevic, who is conducting his own defence, accused the West and NATO of backing the Kosovo Liberation Army separatist campaign, and insists assassinations and bombings by Albanian nationalists provoked the 1999 Serb crackdown.

Milosevic said the Kosovo Liberation Army had ruthlessly killed opponents, including a prominent doctor on his own doorstep. "Isn't that an act of terrorism?" he asked Bakalli.

Bakalli replied: "Yes. The KLA did not do that, I know."

Milosevic said the Albanian rebels had aimed to drive Serbs out through "murders, rapes, removal of homes."

Bakalli replied: "It's propaganda. I don't accept it." Milosevic shot back: "So, dead people are propaganda?"

"You took away our right to autonomous government," Bakalli said.

"You took away our right to have our own police force. You took away our right to have our own education and to have our own curriculum."

Milosevic cast doubt on Bakalli's account of the killings of men, women and children from the extended Jashari family in their home at Prekaz in Kosovo, during a police siege and shootout in 1998.

"You killed civilians, children... old people, pregnant women, saying all the time that you were fighting terrorism," Bakalli told the court.

Bakalli told the trial at The Hague on Monday that the Yugoslav leadership under Milosevic had tried to wipe out 700 Muslim settlements in Kosovo and that women and children were murdered.

Describing one of his meetings with Milosevic in 1998, Bakalli said: "I told him: 'You are killing women and children'," referring to the police action against the Jasharis.

According to Bakalli, Milosevic replied: "We are fighting against terrorism." He said the police had given the residents "two hours to flee, but they didn't."

"He knew about the incident," Bakalli said.

Presiding judge Richard May of Britain repeatedly intervened, asking Milosevic to either ask a question or "give him a chance to respond."

During the cross-examination, Bakalli said an underground education system was set up in Kosovo to reintroduce classes on Albanian history, culture and language that were dropped from the curriculum imposed by the Serb government.

"You and your people imposed the curriculum," Bakalli told Milosevic. "The parallel provincial system of schools was set up because of apartheid."

Milosevic asked Bakalli, a university professor, to explain the meaning of apartheid and then recommended he read the U.N. definition of the word "before he use it again."

Bakalli was dismissed by the Yugoslav leadership in the early 1980s for allegedly organising pro-independence protests by Kosovo Albanians.

He disappeared from public view until 1998 when he became a member of a Kosovo Albanian delegation that negotiated the reopening of Albanian-language universities in Kosovo.

Bakalli is the first of some 90 witnesses to be called by the prosecution.



 
 
 
 





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