- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2003

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Presidential hopeful Wesley Clark faced his wartime foe Slobodan Milosevic for the first time since the former Yugoslav leader’s fall, testifying yesterday at Mr. Milosevic’s war-crimes trial. Afterward, Mr. Clark accused Mr. Milosevic of responsibility for years of death and destruction in the Balkans.

Mr. Clark, a retired four-star general and former NATO supreme commander, was taking a hiatus from his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination for two days of testimony behind closed doors at the Yugoslav war-crimes tribunal at The Hague.

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Mr. Clark declined to give details of what had gone on during about five hours of hearings because he is barred under court rules from discussing any details.

But he said Mr. Milosevic’s trial will help bring a sense of closure to the millions of victims of Balkan atrocities.

“For the people of the region, it’s a very important experience. It’s the rule of law. It’s closure with a man who caused the deaths, or is alleged to have caused the deaths, of hundreds of thousands throughout Europe.”

The hearings will continue today, with Mr. Milosevic able to cross-examine Mr. Clark.

Most of Mr. Milosevic’s trial, which began in February 2002, has been public, but the United States won an agreement from the tribunal to keep Mr. Clark’s appearance closed for security reasons.

Nonessential officials were barred from following the proceedings. The tribunal will broadcast Mr. Clark’s testimony Friday and post it on the Internet, although the State Department could try to have sensitive parts edited out, tribunal spokesman Jim Landale has said.

Prosecutors are hoping that Mr. Clark will back up their contention that Mr. Milosevic was aware of Serbian wartime atrocities, such as the massacre of thousands of Muslim civilians in Srebrenica, Bosnia, and failed to prevent them or punish those responsible.

Mr. Clark arrived in the Netherlands on Sunday as authorities in Iraq announced the capture of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. With the deposed Iraqi leader expected to be tried for war crimes like Mr. Milosevic, Mr. Clark said no leader responsible for atrocities should be allowed to elude justice.

Mr. Clark, who as NATO’s supreme commander led the 1999 bombing campaign in Kosovo, has unique insight into the tactics of the former Yugoslav leader, who was ousted in 2000 and later extradited to the U.N. war-crimes tribunal.

Mr. Milosevic, who is running for office in his homeland despite his detention, faces 66 charges of war crimes committed in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Prosecutors have called hundreds of witnesses, but Mr. Clark will be the most-senior U.S. official to testify at Milosevic’s trial.

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