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Milosevic died before the kangaroo court at the Hague could find him guilty. And he was certainly guilty – guilty of refusing to join NATO and the EU and become part of the Americans' new world order...

Slobodan Milosevic and the International War Crimes Tribunal


The newspapers certainly had a field day with the death of Slobodan Milosevic. The Daily Telegraph, as usual in the vanguard of reaction, celebrated with malicious glee the demise of the man who they claim "achieved the break-up of Yugoslavia, the ruin of Serbia and the slaughter of hundreds and thousands of people". All were quick to remind us that Milosevic was the man the Americans called "the Butcher of the Balkans" as if that was all we needed to know about him and that, by repeating it often enough and shouting it loudly enough, it would obviously make it so.

The other lie that they all united behind was their avowal that by dying when and how he did, Milosevic had somehow cheated the justice that the Hague tribunal had been set up to deliver because a guilty verdict was all but inevitable. Not only was he clearly guilty but the evidence of his guilt was overwhelming and would be shown to be so once they had managed to shut him up with his inconvenient protestations of innocence.

The only surprise in this scenario was that the tribunal did not simply carry on without him and produce the verdict that everyone wanted and the closure that this would bring.

Milosevic's continued defiance of the tribunal and stubborn refusal to play the role of scapegoat allotted to him was what had made the trial such a long-drawn out affair when what was really required by the "international community" was a quick trial followed by a quick guilty verdict. Then, onto the next kangaroo court judging whoever stood in the way of American and British domination of world markets by proclaiming the independence of their country and their right to order things in the interests of the people who lived there.

As the Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponti pointed out, the only mistake the tribunal made was to allow Milosevic to defend himself and to allow the evidence to speak for itself.

An oversight indeed, for Milosevic was able to demonstrate time and time again the indictment against him was based on lies and contradictions. He exposed it as a political show trial designed not to establish the true facts of the case but to reduce the complex situation in the Balkans to a simple story of good against evil.

The purpose of this, he maintained throughout, was in order to draw attention away from the very real crimes committed against Yugoslavia by Nato's illegal assault: the hundreds and thousands of people killed by their deliberate bombing of civilians. None of this, of course, was reported by the media in Britain who carefully ignored the detail of the trial while Milosevic was presenting his side of the story – leaving it until he was safely dead and his guilt could be proclaimed as a fact.

The real facts tell a different story. Despite the forces arraigned against him and the obstacles placed in the path of his defence, the tribunal never even came close to proving their case against him. It never proved that there had been a general plan to remove Albanians from Kosovo, the central claim against him and the reason given for the illegal bombing of Serbia, or that Milosevic had issued orders to that effect. It never even proved that genocide had occurred in Kosovo.

The massed graves that the media proclaimed over and over again at the time failed to materialise, like the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In all a total of 2,000 bodies of all nationalities have been found in Kosovo since NATO intervention, and many of those deaths were caused by NATO bombing.

Now that Milosevic is dead, these inconvenient facts can be safely ignored and history rewritten to suit the warmongers in America and Britain. So too can the fact that the initial secession from the Yugoslav Federation by both Croatia and Slovenia was illegal and that the initial order for the Yugoslav National Army to fight the secessionists was not given by Milosevic, who was not in a position to do so, but by Ante Markovic, himself an ethnic Croat, the federal prime minister. This did not stop the tribunal laying the blame squarely on Milosevic, but in order to do it the indictment against him was forced into a number of embarrassing contradictions.

Thus at one point, in paragraph 85, the indictment states that the conflict in Croatia was an international one from 8 October 1991 (in order to provide some legal cover for the illegal activities of NATO) while at the same time, paragraph 110 claims that the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was still in existence as a sovereign state until 27 April 1992 (in order to further the case against Milosevic).

Web of lies
Both cannot be true, yet both happily sit together in the web of lies at the heart of the Hague tribunal. This contradiction is paramount for the whole case against Milosevic because the laws of war under which he was ostensibly being tried can only operate in conditions of international conflict which, right from the beginning, the wars in Yugoslavia never were.

The silliest of the lies is the claim that by dying, Milosevic somehow cheated justice – because justice is a commodity that the Hague tribunal simply does not trade in. In truth if he had lived he undoubtedly would have been found guilty anyway no matter how strong his defence or how little had actually been proved against him.

His death, however, provides relief for those who persecuted him, even when he was clearly ill and in need of treatment, from the embarrassment of a trial that was still going on in its unconvincing way years after it was supposed to have produced a quick, clean, guilty verdict. The trial was distracting attention, however fitfully, from that other trial designed to put a legal gloss after the event on the illegal, murderous activities of the Americans and British: that of Saddam Hussein.

For in these terms Milosevic was certainly guilty – guilty of refusing to join NATO and the EU and become part of the Americans' new world order, guilty of not delivering his country and the livelihoods of his countrymen and women to the rapacious threats of an uncontrolled market economy, guilty of not selling the riches and assets of his country to a clique of criminal oligarchs and their western money launderers as in the rest of the former Soviet bloc, guilty of trying to resist the total destruction of what remained of a public service and the threat of mass unemployment, guilty of daring to maintain the word Socialist in the name of the ruling political party - guilty indeed.

The wars in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were not an accident of history waiting to happen but had been well planned for by American and British strategists in the long war against the Soviet Union. Hence the rush by the EU to recognise the new states of Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia in borders which could be accommodated within Federal structures. Hence the checks and balances that such arrangements provided but which had no basis for stability when those checks and balances had been destroyed. The multi-ethnic nature of Yugoslavia had to be abolished but yet the borders of the multi-ethnic statelets that replaced it were somehow sacrosanct and had to be defended at all costs.

The Hague tribunal in its pursuit of Milosevic turned the concept of natural justice on its head and its judges violated almost every established precept of jurisprudence and international law while doing so. The fate of Milosevic and the seven others who have died when under the protection of the Hague tribunal serves as a reminder of the way the US and its servile ally Britain have rewritten the rule of law to provide cover for their illegal wars. His untimely death is being used to legitimise the activities of the tribunal but there is a much more important outcome. The wars in Yugoslavia led directly to the war in Afghanistan and then the war in Iraq and will lead to many more interventions until they are stopped. That is down to us.