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Observer denies anti-Albanian plan

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands -- The trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic has been told Belgrade had no master plan to expel Albanian civilians from Kosovo prior to the NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia in March 1999.

Retired British General Karel Drewienkiewicz, an observer with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said: "I saw no evidence myself that a plan to expel the civilian population existed as at March 20."

Drewienkiewicz went to Kosovo in the autumn of 1998 with the OSCE after Milosevic, under growing international pressure, agreed to a cease-fire in the province. He left the province on March 20, 1999.

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But the OSCE did meet obstruction and antagonism from Serbian authorities when it arrived in Kosovo, Drewienkiewicz said.

"We were dealt with as enemy forces, not as friendly forces."

On Friday, during his second day of testimony, Drewienkiewicz spoke of a demeaning Yugoslav attitude towards Kosovo Albanians, illustrated by remarks a colonel made to him.

"Look at them! They don't even know how to bury their dead," the colonel said as they passed an Albanian cemetery, and: "You have to understand these are very primitive people."

Drewienkiewicz said: "It's my opinion that was an opinion shared by the people I dealt with in the Yugoslav establishment."

As the situation deteriorated, international verifiers were also assaulted and intimidated by Serbian police.

And even as a peace conference took place in Rambouillet, France in February 1999, "neither side was exercising restraint," he said.

The prosecution produced a Yugoslav military order dated February 13 -- when Rambouillet was under way -- referring to "dynamic actions to break up the terrorists" over a large area.

"This indicates a search and destroy approach to terrorists rather than a focused move against specific targets," commented Drewienkiewicz.

The prosecution also displayed a Yugoslav army memorandum saying that if any KLA "terrorist" was found near a school, mosque or hospital then that building could be targeted.

Any civilians who participated in guerrilla operations should also be treated as "terrorists," the document said.

Milosevic, 60, is on trial at The Hague answering war crimes charges in connection with events in Kosovo in 1999 and Croatia in 1991 and alleged genocide in Bosnia between 1992-95.

He has previously said he does not recognise the court and declined to plead to the charges against him. The court's judges entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.


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