Slobodan Milosevic says the case against him at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague is "an ocean of lies." The former Yugoslav president began his defense saying it is the NATO alliance that should be on trial for its 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia.
Slobodan Milosevic has signaled that his main defense in the Kosovo part of his trial will be to blame NATO for atrocities in Yugoslavia. He says NATO's bombing campaign intentionally targeted civilians in both Kosovo and Serbia.
He told the court that NATO had no basis under international law to attack Yugoslavia. "It was perpetrated without being [approved] by the [U.N.] Security Council nor without the member states of the pact being asked," he said. "The aggression showed that the NATO pact was not an alliance, but an appendage of the American administration, which can use it as it deems fit, when it sees fit."
Mr. Milosevic went on to say it was NATO's bombing and not the action of Serb forces that was responsible for driving hundreds-of-thousands of ethnic Albanians out of Kosovo. To emphasize his point that NATO bombing was indiscriminate, he displayed photographs of what he says were victims of NATO attacks.
NATO has always denied that it deliberately targeted civilians during its 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. And war crimes prosecutors say there is not enough evidence to bolster Mr. Milosevic's claims that charges should be brought against the alliance.
The former Serb and Yugoslav leader said he was fighting terrorism by ethnic-Albanian guerrillas in Kosovo and compared that struggle with Washington's fight against terrorism today.
"The Americans go right to the other side of the globe to fight against terrorism, in Afghanistan," said Mr. Milosevic. "A case in point, right to the other side of the world, and that is considered to be logical and normal. Whereas, here the struggle against terrorism at the heart of one's own country, in one's own home, is considered to be a crime."
For Mr. Milosevic, the prosecution's case is a fabrication and that the trial is a conspiracy against him, and the Serbian and Yugoslav people. "You have nothing, and that is why you have to concoct things... that is why this show, which is supposed to take place under the guise of a trial, is actually a crime against a sovereign state," he said.
Mr. Milosevic faces 66 indictments for war crimes covering the conflicts in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo. He will resume his opening statement on Friday.