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Monday, 25 February, 2002, 17:23 GMT
Witness describes Kosovo atrocities
Slobodan Milosevic
Mr Milosevic is conducting his own defence
The war crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague has been hearing a graphic account of how Serb forces destroyed a Kosovo village in 1999.

Retired farmer Halil Morina, 65, told the court how his family fled for their lives as Serb troops went on a killing spree in the village of Landovice.

They killed a paralysed woman - they set fire to her in her own house

Halil Morina
Mr Morina's testimony provoked an exasperated outburst from the former Yugoslav president, who is on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity.

"I must say you are bringing witnesses of this kind to ill-treat me," Mr Milosevic accused the prosecution. "They are false witnesses."

As the trial moved into its third week, Mr Morina became the third Kosovo Albanian to give evidence, echoing earlier testimony of atrocities committed in the province in 1999.

'Dead bodies'

Serb forces entered his village on foot on 26 March 1999, he told the court.

"They killed a paralysed woman. They set fire to her in her own house," Mr Morina said.

Slobodan Milosevic
Milosevic charges
  • Genocide
  • Crimes against humanity
  • Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions
  • Violations of the laws or customs of war

    Click here for a full list of charges

  • He described how he fled with his disabled wife, returning later. "Only the livestock remained, everything was razed to the ground," he said.

    At his neighbour's house, he said he found 13 dead bodies on the floor.

    Mr Morina also described how he heard the explosion as troops blew up the local mosque.

    Cross-examining the witness, Mr Milosevic, who is representing himself, sought to establish that military activity in the area was due to Nato and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

    But Mr Morina, describing himself as "just a farmer" said he did not know anything about the KLA or Nato.

    "All right, quite obviously you know nothing of what I am asking you," Mr Milosevic retorted.

    Proving innocence

    He accused the prosecution of calling false witnesses and complained that the court was making him prove his innocence, instead of insisting the prosecution prove his guilt.

    Presiding Judge Richard May rejected this suggestion. "There is no question of you or others accused here having to prove you innocence," he said.

    Mr Milosevic, the first former head of state to be indicted before an international tribunal, faces charges of genocide in Bosnia, and of crimes against humanity in Kosovo and Croatia.

    He rejects the legality of the court, but after refusing to co-operate during pre-trial hearings, he is now taking an active part in proceedings.

    The hearing could last two years, with 350 witnesses set to be called by the UN.

    See also:

    25 Feb 02 | Media reports
    Serbian press split on Milosevic trial
    19 Feb 02 | Europe
    Kostunica attacks Milosevic trial
    18 Feb 02 | Europe
    Milosevic defence transcript
    19 Feb 02 | Europe
    The Milosevic case: Timeline
    22 Feb 02 | Europe
    Milosevic surprises prosecution
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