- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 13, 2002

From combined dispatches
The United States is refusing to permit Richard C. Holbrooke, former ambassador to the United Nations, to testify in open court before an international tribunal prosecuting former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, a State Department official said yesterday.
The official said Washington was demanding Mr. Holbrooke, the architect of the Dayton peace accords that ended Yugoslavia's wars of secession, and other former U.S. officials testify in a closed session before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia or not at all.
"They either won't testify or they will have to testify under these rules," the State Department official told Agence France-Presse on the condition of anonymity.
The official said the U.S. condition has been set to protect intelligence assets.
The Financial Times said the U.S. position also was based on fears that Mr. Holbrooke's appearance in open court would set a precedent for senior officials testifying before international courts like the coming International Criminal Court, which Washington ardently opposes.
The State Department official declined to discuss that aspect of the U.S. position. The International Criminal Court officially opens July 1.
The Financial Times also reported that negotiations over the testimony of Mr. Holbrooke and others had grown so difficult that the chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, was considering not even calling him to the stand.
In The Hague, Mrs. Del Ponte's spokeswoman Florence Hartmann declined to comment on the report. "These are confidential matters," she said.
The official said secret negotiations over the testimony had been going on for some time under a so-called "silence procedure" a way to keep discussions private under a temporary gag rule.
The silence procedure expired on Tuesday, the official said.
If the prosecutors fail to call Mr. Holbrooke as a witness, Mr. Milosevic himself could call him as a defense witness meaning his testimony would be shaped far more by the accused, who is defending himself.
Meanwhile at the war crimes trial yesterday, Mr. Milosevic challenged the testimony of an American ambassador, reaching back to the Iran-Contra scandal of the late 1980s in an attempt to discredit the U.S. envoy.
Mr. Milosevic cross-examined William Walker, the former U.S. head of a Kosovo peacekeeping mission, about his testimony that he saw piles of bodies at Racak, a massacre that focused world attention on atrocities by Serbian forces.
As head of the mission for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the late 1990s, Mr. Walker was charged with monitoring human rights abuses.
Before joining the OSCE, Mr. Walker dealt with Central American issues at the State Department from 1985 to 1988 and later served as ambassador to El Salvador from 1988 to 1992.

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