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US Presidential Candidate Clark Completes Testimony at Milosevic Trial - 2003-12-16

U.S. presidential candidate General Wesley Clark concluded two days of testimony at the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. The former foes faced off in closed court, but Wesley Clark described the former president later as petulant and argumentative as ever.

Retired General Wesley Clark said never in history has a commander known his opponent so well. General Clark spent more than 100 hours with former President Milosevic over the course of almost four years in the 1990s, both as a peace negotiator during the Balkan wars and later as commander of the NATO alliance during its bombing campaign against Milosevic's Serbia.

The man he knew then, General Clark said, has not changed one bit from the man he faced in court. "I saw no change in his demeanor, his stubbornness, his petulance from the man who I believe was responsible for so much of the slaughter and victims in the Balkans," he said.

General Clark would not go into details about his testimony, saying only that it centered on Slobodan Milosevic's command responsibility, accountability, and advance knowledge of events. That includes the 1995 Srebrenica massacres when more than 7,000 Muslim men were killed.

He said he was able to speak about Mr. Milosevic's state of mind, intent and leadership style; the way he mixed diplomacy and war. Wesley Clark's testimony will not be released until the end of this week, giving the Bush administration time to go through it and edit out any perceived threats to U.S. national security.

Mr. Clark said he did not have a problem with the unusual conditions of his testimony and that he expects all of it to be made public. He described the courtroom exchange between himself and Slobodan Milosevic as distant. The General focused on the judges and the translation from Serbian to English and back again served as a barrier.

But he called the former president's cross-examination a typical Slobodan Milosevic performance - grandiose, misplaced, overly personal and not very effective. Still, General Clark called the whole experience very satisfying, seeing the man he believes responsible for so much bloodshed in Europe being held personally accountable in court.

General Clark called it an important precedent, one that should be taken into account in dealing with deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.