Momir Bulatovic, the first witness called by former federal deputy prime minister says, ‘Milosevic liked me like a son or a younger brother’. He wanted to save Bulatovic from being indicted by the Tribunal and ordered him not to get involved in the Kosovo issue and to get Nikola Sainovic to deal with it

In the cross-examination today, the prosecutor challenged the evidence of the former FRY prime minister Momir Bulatovic. He said that he, not Milosevic, had appointed the accused Nikola Sainovic head of the team dealing with the Kosovo crisis. Confronted with the excerpts from his own book, Rules of Silence, where he writes that Milosevic ‘explicitly demanded’ that he task Sainovic with solving the Kosovo issue, Bulatovic confirmed that this was the case. He claims, however, that he could have refused to do so.

To clarify Milosevic’s actions, Bulatovic writes in his book that the FRY president ‘knew very well’ that he and all those who had anything to do with Kosovo would end up being indicted by the ICTY in The Hague. ‘He liked me like a son or a younger brother, and when he appointed Sainovic as the man for Kosovo, he wanted to save me from being indicted by the Tribunal’, Bulatovic writes in his book. He confirmed all those claims today.

He stuck to his claim that the final decision to send Sainovic to Kosovo had been his, and the prosecutor wanted to know whether Bulatovic, as Sainovic’s superior, had ever issued any specific orders to his deputy. The witness said he had not, clarifying that his communication with the cabinet members had not been ‘in the nature of orders’ because he was not that kind of a man.

The witness admitted today that during and after the conflict in Kosovo the federal authorities had received reports about ‘heinous crimes against Albanians’, but he claimed those crimes had been the work of ‘deranged individuals or groups of criminals’. That is why the government he headed wanted to punish the perpetrators, and submitted the Bill on War Crimes to the Parliament. The bill was never passed, though, because, as he explained, the UN administration in Kosovo would never have met the demands of the FRY authorities regarding war crimes investigations. Bulatovic regrets this now, explaining that ‘the Tribunal would have much less work to do had the perpetrators been punished in the FRY”.

Bulatovic again contested the evidence of Ratko Markovic, who testified as Milan Milutinovic’s defense witness. Last week, Markovic said that the Supreme Defense Council, with Milutinovic as a member, ‘did not make decisions, but only political conclusions’, corroborating this claim by the fact that the decisions or rather conclusions were never published in the Official Gazette. Bulatovic said this was not so: the Council made decisions, but those decision were not published anywhere, ‘as is the practice in any normal country’.

Commenting on the allegation in the indictment that Sainovic was at the head of the military and police joint command for Kosovo, the witness said once again that he believed no such body existed, although he knew ‘the military and the police acted in concert’. He admitted that the military heavy artillery provided support for the police in some actions.

Momir Bulatovic’s testimony ended today.