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Clark: Milosevic petulant at trial

Clark was NATO's allied commander during the alliance's 1999 Kosovo campaign.

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Former NATO commander Wesley Clark faced questions from Slobodan Milosevic, on trial in The Hague.
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THE HAGUE, The Netherlands (CNN) -- Former U.S. general Wesley Clark said he saw "no change in the demeanor" of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic during the ex-leader's war crimes trial, calling it a "typical Milosevic performance."

Clark, a U.S. Democratic presidential candidate, was cross-examined by Milosevic -- who is conducting his own defense -- at the closed-door hearings at The Hague tribunal on Tuesday.

Clark, a Vietnam veteran, was NATO's allied commander during the alliance's 1999 campaign which forced Milosevic's troops out of Kosovo.

The trial brought Clark and Milosevic face to face for the first time in four years.

Milosevic is charged with crimes against humanity in Croatia and Kosovo, and genocide in Bosnia.

After competing two days of evidence to The Hague tribunal, Clark said he had found the experience "very, very satisfying." He said Milosevic had shown a grandiosity in his style, "stubbornness," "petulance," and an argumentative stance.

They communicated through translation, with Milosevic questioning Clark in Serbo-Croatian and Clark answering in English.

"I watched the ravages of his leadership in Europe for years, I have talked to his victims, I have met them, I have seen the results in the shattered cities of the former Yugoslavia," Clark told reporters.

"This process will enable us to move beyond collective guilt and into assigning individual guilt and that is the real political significance of what's happening here."

Clark said there was discussion of Milosevic's foreknowledge, command responsibility, and accountability in events, including the Srebrenica massacre, in which 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern Bosnian town were killed in 1995.

Clark said he had many hours of dealing of Milosevic during the Balkan wars in the mid to late 1990s and had a good feel for Milosevic's personality, his state of mind, his intentions, and his leadership style.

Clark said that eight years after the end of Bosnia's three-and-a-half-year war, "it is very important that the NATO countries on the ground in Bosnia finish the job and arrest the remaining outstanding war criminals," including Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb wartime leader, and Ratko Mladic, his military commander.

Asked if he thought what was happening at The Hague was a precedent for the treatment of Saddam Hussein, Clark said there were "important lessons" to be learned.

"I think there are important lessons to be taken from this court ... in terms of the character of the judges, the manner in which evidence is presented, and the timing of the trial should be taken into account," he said.

"I will be offering some reflections on those in the days immediately ahead. It's a very important precedent and must be taken into consideration into developing the manner for proceeding against Saddam Hussein."

Asked by reporters about whether international justice can be a "vote-winner" with the American public, Clark said: "I have no idea" and pointed out that his role in providing help to war crimes prosecutors has been going on for a while.

"It has no political motivation whatsoever."

On Monday, President Bush promised Saddam Hussein would be put on trial, saying: "We will work with the Iraqis to develop a way to try him that will stand international scrutiny.

"There needs to be a public trial and all the atrocities need to come out and justice needs to be delivered. And I'm confident it will be done in a fair way."

Details of Clark's testimony will be released Friday after the U.S. government screens out anything considered a threat to "national security."

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