The Hague, Aug. 28 (Reuters): Slobodan Milosevic crossed swords today with a British reporter, disputing the objectivity of the BBC as the journalist cast doubt on Serbian assertions that Nato bombs killed inmates of a Kosovo prison.
The British Broadcasting Corporation’s former Belgrade correspondent, Jacky Rowland, testified against the ex-Yugoslav President amid mounting concerns reporters run a risk of being killed in war zones if they are regarded as potential witnesses. Rowland told of two visits she paid to Dubrava Prison in May 1999, where she saw dead bodies and was told they were victims of the Nato raids launched in response to a Serb crackdown on the majority-Albanian Serbian province of Kosovo.
“I have strong doubts that all those prisoners were killed as a direct result of the Nato bombing,” Rowland told the UN International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia. Milosevic has been on trial since February accused of genocide and crimes against humanity in the Balkans in the 1990s.
But the trial — expected to last at least two years — has been delayed repeatedly by illness on the part of Milosevic, who has high blood pressure and has suffered bouts of influenza.
Under cross-examination by Milosevic, who has refused to appoint counsel and is defending himself, Rowland said her doubt about the prisoners’ deaths sprang from how the corpses looked. “If you were hit by a bomb — heaven forbid — I think I’d be able to tell by looking at your body whether that was the manner of death,” she said.