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Former Serbian State Security Head Defends Milosevic Statements - 2002-07-26

The trial of Slobodan Milsoevic has gone into summer recess at the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal. The trial will resume in late August giving the former Yugoslav president time both to prepare for the next phase and to take get rest.

Slobodan Milosevic's former head of state security, Rade Markovic, testified Friday for the third day.

On Thursday, he had told prosecutors that his former boss received daily reports of what was happening in Kosovo. Prosecutors said what was happening was murder, deportation and the burning and looting of ethnic Albanian villages by forces under then President Milosevic's control.

But Mr. Milosevic has always said that if any crimes were committed, they were by NATO forces, Kosovo Albanian terrorists, or by some Serb forces who later were punished.

In court Friday, Mr. Markovic appeared to support Mr. Milosevic's statements. He was a prosecution witness, but under cross-examination from Mr. Milosevic, Rade Markovic defended his former boss, agreeing with him on just about every point.

The following exchange, begun by Mr. Milsoevic, was typical.

MILOSEVIC: Have you ever received a report or heard that I myself or any of my associates or any politician ever encouraged or incited discrimination against or expelling or persecution of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo?

MARKOVIC: No. I've never heard or seen anything like that.
Mr. Markovic testified that Mr. Milsoevic ordered his forces to protect Kosovo's Albanians and that if his forces committed any crimes they should be punished. Mr. Markovic said more than 400 Serbs were prosecuted for criminal acts.

He also agreed with Mr. Milsoevic that ethnic Albanians fled because of NATO's 1999 bombing campaign and to stay out of the crossfire between Serb forces and the KLA, or Kosovo Liberation Army.

The trial which started five months ago, is now in recess until late August.

Proceedings have been delayed several times because of Mr. Milosevic's health. And, a recent medical examination found him at high risk for a heart attack.

So, the former Yugoslav leader will use the time off to rest. He also will be preparing for the next stage of the trial, including defending himself against genocide charges in Bosnia.

Judges have imposed strict time limits on prosecutors and want them to complete their case by next May. But the state of Mr. Milosevic's health could again slow the proceedings.