Milosevic planned killings, says general

Friday, June 14, 2002

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Slobodan Milosevic battled in court Thursday with NATO's former military commander, a four-star general who accused him of planning to wipe out ethnic Albanians in Kosovo months before Serb forces began their bloody crackdown.

The former Yugoslav president dismissed the allegations as "absurd," and clashed with presiding judge Richard May, who warned Milosevic to stop arguing with the witness or lose the right to cross-examine.

The testimony by German Gen. Klaus Naumann, who led the Western alliance in bombing Milosevic's Serb forces, was potentially the most damning yet in the 4-month-old trial at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.

Naumann is the highest-ranking military officer to assert a direct link between Milosevic and the Kosovo crackdown in the spring of 1999.

Milosevic has been charged with five counts of war crimes in connection with the campaign in which thousands of Kosovo Albanians were killed and about 800,000 fled their homes to neighboring countries. He faces another 61 counts, including genocide, for alleged atrocities in Bosnia and Croatia.

Naumann said that in 1998-99, he met three times with Milosevic to negotiate a withdrawal from Kosovo of Yugoslav forces blamed for atrocities.

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