17 March 2006

Cigalinski Caught in a Lie as Kotur Denies Plan to Expel Albanians from Kosovo

SLOBODAN-MILOSEVIC.ORG, Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Col. Milan Kotur, the Yugoslav Army's former chief liaison officer to the OSCE/KVM, continued his testimony at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic on Tuesday. Most of the day was spent on Mr. Nice's cross-examination of the witness.


Mr. Nice questioned the witness for several minutes about who had given him information regarding testimony that a prosecution witness, Richard Ciaglinski, gave during a closed session hearing.


Ciaglinski had testified, during a closed-session, that during his stint as a KVM verifier Col. Kotur had described to him a secret Yugoslav Army plan to cleanse Kosovo of its ethnic Albanian population.


During the examination-in-chief Col. Kotur let it slip that he had heard about this testimony, and that his wife had contacted Ciaglinski to ask him why he would give such false testimony.


In spite of Mr. Nice's insistence, Col. Kotur declined to identify who had given him the information about the closed-session hearing.


At any rate the assertion being made by Col. Ciaglinski is absolutely false. Col. Ciaglinski was directly subordinated to Gen. Drewienkiewciz, and when Drewienkiewciz testified as a prosecution witness on April 12, 2002, he said: "My opinion was that up until the moment that we drove out of Kosovo on the 20th of March, I came across no indications that there was a plan to expel the civilian population. I was absolutely clear that there was a plan to deal with the Kosovo Liberation Army, which would involve bringing in reinforcements of the Yugoslav army, and those reinforcements had started to arrive before we -- before we left. But I was not -- I saw no evidence myself that such a plan to expel the civilian population existed as at the 20th of March."


Clearly, if Col. Kotur had really told Ciaglinski that a plan existed to expel Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population then Ciaglinski would have immediately forwarded such information up the chain of command to his commanding officer, Gen. Drewienkiewciz.


The fact that Drewienkiewciz didn't know about the plan goes to show that it is something that Ciaglinski invented when he took the witness stand. Obviously Ciaglinski thought that he could exploit the closed-session in order to tell lies about people who he didn't think would find out about them.


A five-week vacation did not improve Mr. Nice's behavior any. The prosecutor was his usual offensive self. While defending the process of closed-session hearings he described Serbia as a "violent" and "dangerous" country, thus insinuating that Serbs are violent and dangerous people.


Another claim that Ciaglinski made about Kotur was that he - without the permission of the VJ - gave him a VJ map that was later used by NATO for the bombing. While its interesting that a KVM officer admitted providing NATO with maps for the bombing, Kotur said that had been given authorization to give maps to the KVM. He said that the KVM didn't have proper maps, so the VJ provided them in the spirit of cooperation.


Mr. Nice wasted a great deal of time asking the witness questions that were outside his area of knowledge. He asked the witness questions about the so-called "Joint Command". At one point he was even asking questions about army officers interviewed on television program that the witness had never even seen.


The prosecutor accused the witness in taking part in what he called the "massacre in Meja and Korenica." The witness denied taking part in any massacre. He said that his unit had helped with battlefield clean up after an anti-terrorist operation had been carried out there. However, he denied seeing any traces of a massacre during the course of the operation.


Mr. Nice said that prosecution witness Nike Peraj had identified Kotur as taking part in the alleged massacre. Kotur responded that Peraj was not at Meja and was not in a position to say that there was a massacre let alone that someone had participated in one. Mr. Nice also asked the witness questions about Racak. Mr. Nice insisted that the 243rd Armored Brigade of the Yugoslav Army had taken part in the operation at Racak. He insisted that the brigade commander, Gen. Krsman Jelic, had told Joseph Maisonneuve that the army fired on Racak.


Col. Kotur was the liaison officer who arranged the meeting between Jelic and Maisonneuve. He also attended the meeting and he insisted that Jelic never said any such thing to Maisonneuve.


During the re-examination Milosevic questioned Col. Kotur about the role of the 243rd brigade vis-à-vis Racak. The witness testified that the 243rd was stationed near Racak, as it had been since April 1998, more than eight months before the MUP launched the Racak operation.


Milosevic showed the witness documents from the 243rd brigade reporting that the MUP had carried out the operation in Racak alone. The documents showed that the only fighting the 243rd engaged in on that day was to return fire against a group of KLA terrorists that were shooting at them, but these KLA terrorists were not even in Racak they were firing at the army from the direction of Belince.


Col. Kotur is expected to conclude his testimony when the trial resumes on Wednesday.