U.S. presidential hopeful and former NATO commander Wesley K. Clark testified that Slobodan Milosevic knew in advance about the Srebrenica massacre, handing U.N. prosecutors the most direct evidence yet linking the former Yugoslav leader to the genocide, transcripts showed Thursday.
In an operation commanded by Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic, more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in July 1995 at the U.N.-protected zone in Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and tens of thousands of women were expelled.
Clark, who was part of a U.S. team negotiating a peace plan in Belgrade a month later, recalled how Milosevic, then president of Serbia, said he could speak on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs.
He quoted Milosevic as saying, “Well, Gen. Clark, I warned Mladic not to do this, but he didn’t listen to me.”
Milosevic, during cross-examination, accused Clark of a “blatant lie” and said the two had never discussed Srebrenica, the transcripts said.
Clark testified Monday and Tuesday in closed sessions at the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
The testimony was made public after being reviewed by State Department lawyers, who, the Bush administration said, did not request any changes.
Prosecution spokeswoman Florence Hartmann said Clark’s testimony was “extremely important for us.” Experts agreed that it was the most direct evidence so far indicating that Milosevic knew in advance of the intention to kill the Muslims.
In another case at the tribunal, a Bosnian Serb prison camp commander, Dragan Nikolic, was sentenced to 23 years in jail Thursday for allowing his troops to rape, torture and murder Muslim prisoners. The judge said Nikolic often took part in what the U.N. war crimes court called “systematic sadism.”