WASHINGTON – The United States has provided evidence concerning former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal, and is prepared to provide additional information, the State Department said Monday.
Spokesman Richard Boucher said that shortly after the NATO air war over Yugoslavia in 1999, an FBI forensic team went to Kosovo to gather material for the tribunal, which indicted Milosevic for abuses committed against Kosovo Albanians in May of that year.
FBI officials said at the time that forensic experts had recovered the bodies of about 200 people and were able to identify about 75 percent of them.
Boucher also noted that U.S. officials conducted interviews with a number of Kosovo Albanian refugees who were allowed to settle temporarily in Fort Dix, N.J. Their statements were passed on to the tribunal, Boucher said.
The CIA declined comment Monday on what additional information the United States may have provided to the tribunal.
Milosevic is due to be arraigned Tuesday before the U.N. court, but it is not clear whether he will show up.
Former United Nations Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, in an opinion piece written for Monday's Wall Street Journal, said that even though Milosevic has been indicted only for events in Kosovo, it is "virtually certain" he will be charged by the U.N. court with crimes committed in Bosnia and Croatia between 1991 and 1995.
In that event, the task of chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte "will be to establish that the chains of command from the Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia ran back not only to the Belgrade military and police leadership but also directly to Milosevic himself," Holbrooke wrote.
If Milosevic is charged, del Ponte is certain to ask the United States and other NATO members for access to sensitive intelligence materials to help bolster the case against him.
"Such evidence, if it exists, could be critical in any attempt to prove that Milosevic was aware of, and perhaps ordered, Serb security forces to commit war crimes," Holbrooke wrote.