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Former Milosevic Foe Questioned at War Crimes Trial

A retired NATO military leader has testified that former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic told him he would have Kosovo Albanians murdered if that is what it took to solve problems in the troubled province. Mr. Milosevic got to question his former foe, NATO General Klaus Naumann.

The German general, Klaus Naumann, met with President Milosevic three times in the months preceding NATO's 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. The general testified that those meetings, which included negotiations, were meant to warn Mr. Milosevic to scale back his forces in Kosovo and their disproportionate use of violence or face NATO military action.

General Naumann said that it was at one of those meetings that Mr. Milosevic made the statement he found unbelievable. Concerned that the Kosovo Albanian population was increasing at a faster rate than that of the Serbs in the region, President Milosevic said he expected to have a solution to the problem by the spring of 1999. General Naumann said he asked the Yugoslav leader what he meant.

NAUMANN:" The answer was then we'll do the same as we did in Drenica in 1945 or '46."

PROSECUTOR:" Did you know what that was?"

NAUMANN: "No, of course we didn't; and we asked. And the answer was, it was a little bit difficult for us to take, but the answer was we got them together and we shot them."

General Naumann said he was flabbergasted by the comment and did not question the president about what had happened in the central Kosovo region of Drenica in the 1940s.

During cross-examination, Mr. Milosevic told presiding Judge Richard May that he never made what he called such an absurd and unbelievable statement.

"Mr. May, at all events and categorically, I did not say that we would gather them and kill them in Drenica because that would be quite absurd," he said.

Mr. Milosevic spent most of the first hour of his cross-examination sparring with Judge May in exchanges that more than once elicited laughter from the court's gallery.

Mr. Milosevic, who smiled often, has so far not addressed other key parts of General Naumann's testimony. They include his assertions that a Yugoslav general told him Mr. Milosevic was the person calling all the shots in Kosovo and that the scale and complexity of his forces' actions there were no doubt carefully planned and executed.

Mr. Milosevic could address those issues Friday during the rest of his cross-examination.