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From the April 2002 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 49, No. 4)


Slobodan Milosevic Goes on Trial

Views from 11 newspapers

Milosevic on the front page
An unidentified Belgrade man buys local newspaper Telegraf on Feb. 27, 2002. Milosevic's trial is the top story (Photo: AFP).
Chennai The Hindu (centrist), Feb. 18: Whatever the outcome at the tribunal, the trial itself sends a heartening message to civilian victims around the world that dictators like Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, Indonesia’s Suharto, and all those Hitler clones in Central and West Africa can be called to account provided the Western community has the will.

Moscow Sovetskaya Rossiya (conservative), Feb. 12: The goal of this show is to deflect the attention of world opinion from the true guilty parties of the Yugoslav tragedy: These are primarily the leaders of the United States and its allies in NATO, who committed aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999. It is unnatural that those guilty of annihilating thousands of peaceful people and destroying hundreds of homes, hospitals, and kindergartens remain free, while the defendant under arrest is the leader of the victims of this aggression.
—Gennadi Zyuganov, head of the Communist Party of Russia

Banja Luka Nezavisne Novine (independent), Feb. 14: This trial is a huge challenge for the Hague Tribunal, because if the prosecution proves Milosevic’s guilt, then only half the job will be done. The objectivity of the court directly depends on whether the prosecution will find the strength to do the other half of the opening trials against other perpetrators of war crimes [in the former Yugoslavia].
—Radomir Neskovic

Sofia Republika (left-wing), Feb. 13: The tribunal, which in principle is slated to unveil the truth about the greatest Yugoslavian tragedy, is now sitting at The Hague, at long last. Some say that crimes against humanity and genocide in the former federal republics have been perpetrated under the direct supervision of Milosevic. According to others, NATO and the Kosovo Albanians have committed exactly the same sins against the Serbian people. However, only the Serbian leader is prisoner at the bar right now....So if justice is sought, let it be justice for all.
—Nickolay Koev

Bratislava Praca (trade union-affiliated), Feb. 13: The Balkan butcher, a modern Hitler, Serbia’s Stalin—these are some of the monikers the ex-president [Milosevic] earned during his brief and stormy career....At the same time, no attention is paid to actions of the late Croatian president and dictator, Franjo Tudjman, or the Albanian Liberation Army and its mafia operatives, or the Muslim mujahideen in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Genuine justice remains a far-off ideal, because only one criminal of many is being judged.
—Mladen Bosiocic

Zagreb Vecernji List (pro-government), Feb. 14: The trial of Slobodan Milosevic should prove not only his role in recent aggression, but the real cause of that war....It will become obvious that the war was not a “conflict of primitive Balkan tribes”...but a carefully planned war. The indictment would be misleading if it failed to show clearly that it was a war of conquest....
—Milan Jajcinovic

Karachi Dawn (centrist), Feb. 13: On Feb. 12, one of the most important trials in recent history began in The Hague, aimed at bringing to justice a man accused of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century....As the first former head of state charged with genocide...Milosevic’s trial by an international tribunal could serve as a powerful deterrent to autocratic rulers who feel that they can get away with the most abhorrent acts while in power without being brought to justice.

Jidda Arab News (pro-government, English-language), Feb. 13: Milosevic, like all dictators, was motivated by a lust for power....However, it is crucial that Milosevic’s trial never, for a moment, appear to be an act of political revenge. He is on trial, not because of his politics, but because he abused his position of power to commit a catalog of crimes, the greatest of which was to order the systematic destruction of people of different ethnic backgrounds.

Athens Eleftherotypia (liberal), Feb. 10: Milosevic’s trial will offer solid evidence of his guilt. However, it is difficult to clarify the circumstances that led to the bloodshed, as well as to identify those responsible for this massive psychosis.... Unfortunately, the involvement of spiritual leaders, scholars, political leaders, and representatives of the media still remains unknown, although they did have a significant share in the bloodshed.
—Nikolas Voulelis

Warsaw Gazeta Wyborcza (liberal), Feb. 12: For hundreds of thousands of people—Croats tortured in Vukovar, Bosnians besieged in Sarajevo, Serbs expelled from Kraina—the trial of Milosevic is not a political or legal matter. For them his responsibility is tangible, concrete: graves of loved ones, arm and leg stumps, scars, burned homes, lost homelands, irretrievably lost hopes.
—Konstanty Gebert

Glasgow The Herald (centrist), Feb. 14: The true importance of the trial in The Hague goes far beyond dealing with Milosevic....The court in The Hague should lead to the establishment of a permanent international criminal court under the United Nations.

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