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The Milosevic Trial: William Walker's role as provocateur

By Keith Lee
20 July 2002

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William Walker, the former head of the Kosovo Verification Mission
(KVM) for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) insisted in his testimony to The Hague that Slobodan Milosevic
had knowledge of the events in Kosovo and should be held responsible
for the atrocities carried out there.

Former Yugoslav President Milosevic is on trial at the International
Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for crimes against
humanity. He faces five counts of war crimes in Kosovo and has been
indicted for another 61 counts of war crimes, including genocide, for
alleged crimes in Croatia and Bosnia.

Walker?s testimony was key to the prosecution?s efforts to establish
Milosevic?s guilt. He said of the accused, ?His knowledge was in many
respects quite detailed. I never wavered in my opinion that I was
with the person who was in maximum control of events in Kosovo, at
least from the Serb side.?

Walker?s testimony on the alleged massacre at Racak in particular was
meant to prove that Milosevic was responsible for the events in Kosovo
and that the NATO bombing of Serbia was a justifiable response. Then US
Foreign Secretary Madeleine Albright called Racak a ?galvanising
incident?, while for German Foreign Minister Joschka Fisher, ?Racak
became the turning point?.

To emphasis the importance of his account, judges at the Hague tribunal
gave Walker nearly two days to testify. In contrast, when Milosevic
asked how long he had to question the witness he was told by Judge May,
?Three hours, no more: if you refrain from arguing with the witness, if
you refrain from repeating the question, if you ask short questions you
be able to get more done.?

Despite this obvious bias on the part of the court, things did not turn
quite the way the prosecution wanted. Walker?s testimony served to
highlight the central role he had played in proclaiming Racak as a
massacre and thus paving the way for NATO?s bombing of Yugoslavia.

William Walker was head of the KVM, which was set up under the control
of the OSCE after an agreement between Milosevic and the US envoy
Richard Holbrooke in October 13, 1998. Before becoming head of the
KVM, Walker was a deputy to the Reagan administration?s Assistant
Secretary of State Elliot Abrahams, who was implicated in the
Iran-Contra affair, through which the US illegally supplied weapons to
right-wing Contras who were seeking to overthrow the Sandinista

Prior to his appearing at The Hague, two of Walker?s weapons inspectors
had given evidence about the events in Kosovo leading up to the
NATO bombing-his deputy General Karol Drewienkiewicz and Colonel
Richard Ciaglinski. They had also given evidence about the alleged
massacre at Racak.

What happened at Racak?

On January 15, 1999, Serbian police and army personnel, accompanied by
KVM inspectors and the media, mounted an operation against
ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) gunmen, whom they
thought were hiding out in Racak, after ambushing and killing three
policemen. The army sent in armoured troop carriers and artillery into
Racak, Petroovo, Malopoljce and Renaja. Two days later, after intense
fighting between the Yugoslav forces and the KLA, Drewienkiewicz and
Walker visited the area. Drewienkiewicz explained how, on the way,
?Walker made it clear to me that I was to adopt an extremely
uncompromising attitude in this matter.? When they arrived, the KLA took
them to a gully that contained 45 dead bodies.

Once the bodies had been discovered, Drewienkiewicz told the court,
?Walker?s assistant rushed to the top of a hill to phone through to

At a press conference that evening, Walker announced that there had
been a massacre (without mentioning the deaths of the three policemen).
Shortly before the announcement Drewienkiewicz said he heard Walker on
the phone to Richard Holbrooke saying, ?Dick, you can kiss your
Nobel Peace Prize goodbye.? Drewienkiewicz added, ?I was surprised at
the time that he was as specific as to refer to the event as a
massacre. However, I do agree with what he said.?

Walker admitted that Drewienkiewicz had briefed him 14 hours before-the
night of January 15-about fighting in the area between the KLA
and the army and that three policemen had been killed in the vicinity
or four days before. He also knew on January 15 of police reports that
15 KLA militia had been killed at Racak, but at the press conference he
said he disbelieved them. Film also shows him walking amongst KLA
uniformed corpses.

Walker still held his press conference on January 16 without mentioning
the dead policeman or the KLA and saying that the bodies were all
civilians. His press statement was, he said, ?totally my creation? (page
6805). Walker admitted that he was ?not a crime scene investigator?
(page 6801) and when one arrived-Judge Danica Marinkovic-on January
17, he refused to meet her. During his testimony, he said he had
no recollection of Holbrooke or NATO commander General Wesley Clark
speaking to him-?No recollection of myself talking to some of the
people who have later said they talked to me.?

However, Wesley Clark does remember talking to Walker. In his book
Clark describes a phone call from Walker on January 16:

?Wes, we?ve got trouble here? he began. ?I know a massacre when I see
one. I?ve seen them before, when I was in Central America. And I am
looking at a massacre now... There are forty of them in a ditch, maybe
more. These aren?t fighters, they?re farmers, you can tell by looking at
their hands and their clothes. And they have been shot at close range?.

This account has been disputed by the findings of a Finnish forensics
called in to investigate the incident. The team was firstly critical of
the fact that, in the haste to describe the incident at Racak as a
basic crime scene procedures had not been observed. Three days
after the event, the Finnish forensic team reported that at no point was
scene of the incident isolated to stop unauthorised access. The
report stated, ?The scene should then be photographed and videotaped,
any evidence be collected and victims localised and marked at site...
victims should then be placed in individual bodybags for transport to
morgue. With respect to Racak none of this was done or was done
partially and improperly?. The team had no independent verification of
massacre and had to rely on information from the OSCE and
European Union observers or the press. Other findings show that only one
dead victim was a woman. One victim was under 15 years of age.
Six had suffered single gunshot wounds. Most of the 44 were covered by
multiple wounds from different angles and elevations, characteristic of
a firefight rather than a close range execution. Only one had been shot
close range and no signs of post-mortem mutilations were found. The
team could not confirm that the victims were from Racak.

Compare Walker?s response to Racak with his attitude to the murder of
six Jesuit priests in El Salvador or the killing of teenagers in Pec by
KLA. In El Salvador Walker tried to blame the killing of the Jesuits on
guerrillas dressed as soldiers. He told the ICTY, ?I made an inaccurate
statement, in hindsight?. When the KLA was blamed for the killing of the
Serb teenagers in Pec he said, ?When you don?t know what has
happened, it?s lot more difficult to sort of pronounce yourself ... To
day we do not know who committed that act.? He did not exercise the
same degree of caution regarding Racak.

When Milosevic tried to raise the events in El Salvador, Judge May
intervened by saying: ?Your attempt to discredit this witness with
long ago the Trial Chamber has ruled as irrelevant.? And later: ?This is
absurd question, absolutely absurd. Now you?re wasting everybody?s

Milosevic drew attention to the fact that Walker was at the same
Illopango, with Lt. Col. Oliver North who was gun running to the
while Walker was supposedly providing them with humanitarian aid.
Walker explained this by saying, ?Unbeknownst to me, unbeknownst to the
State Department, unbeknownst essentially to the world, a Colonel Oliver
North in the National Security Council was doing things that were
eventually determined by Judge Walsh and his commission to be illegal.?

Walker?s account discredited

Milosevic continued to try and discredit Walker?s account and his
interpretation of events in Racak. He asked of Walker, ?Now that we are
talking about Racak, in your statement you say the following: ?As I was
watching these bodies, I noticed a few things. First of all, judging by
wounds and the blood around them, and also the pools of dried blood on
land around the bodies; it was obvious that these were the clothes
that the people wore when they were killed. There was no doubt in my
mind that they died where they were lying. The quantity and the location

the blood on the soil in front of them, each and every one of them, was
clear indication of that?.?

Milosevic asked for a series of photos of the bodies to be shown in the
correct order and asked, ?Where is this blood by the bodies or by
individual bodies? Where did you see traces of blood there??

This began the following exchange:

Walker: ?On that picture??...

Milosevic: ?Are there any traces of blood here anywhere??

Walker: ?I assume that?s blood.?

Milosevic: ?You?re talking about pools of blood on the soil, and on the
there is no blood at all.?

Walker: ?Not in this picture.?

Milosevic: ?Not on the previous picture either. Is there any blood, any
traces of blood, any pools of blood here on the soil either??

Walker: ?Not on that picture.?

Milosevic: ?Not even here, there is no trace of blood anywhere on the
ground, and we see that there are rocks all around.?

Some of the photographs used in the trial came from one of Walker?s
observers in the KVM, a London Metropolitan police inspector, Ian Robert

Hendrie. Hendrie had recently given evidence to the trial regarding his
to the ?massacre site?. When asked by Milosevic if he toured the site
accompanied or alone, Hendrie said that someone had shown him around.
He was asked whom and he replied, ?I don?t know.? Hendrie could
not explain why his photographs showed only patches of blood and not

In his previous testimony, the chief forensic pathologist for the ICTY,
Baccard, admitted the stiffness and position of the dead bodies was
unusual and it was possible they were moved. From the bullet wounds he
said it was impossible to tell if they were due to ?accident, homicide
an armed conflict.?

In one incident Milosevic asked Walker if he knew a Canadian Historian
Roly Keith, who had been with NATO for 30 years and was head of the
KVM in Kosovo Polje. Walker said he did not and so could not recollect
his own head of KVM in Kosovo. The reason for Walker?s selective
memory was apparent when Milosevic produced a quote from Keith which
contradicted Walker?s testimony as to the situation in Kosovo. Keith
said, ?I can testify to the fact that in February and March there was no
genocide. When it comes to ethnic cleansing, I was not present nor did I
see events which could be characterised as ethnic cleansing. In
connection to my previous answer, I wish to state that I was witness to
of incidents, and most of them were caused by the KLA, for which the
security forces aided by the army reacted.?

Walker?s silences and evasions over the activities of the KLA were again
brought out when Milosevic asked if he had read the March 12, 2000
article in the Sunday Times entitled, ?CIA aided Kosovo guerrilla army?.
Walker said he had not. The article explained how US intelligence
agents helped train the KLA before NATO?s bombing of Yugoslavia. The
CIA were ceasefire monitors in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999, while they
were giving the KLA training manuals and field advice.

The article also questions Walker?s role in preparing the way for NATO
air strikes. ?The American agenda consisted of their diplomatic
observers, a.k.a. the CIA, operating on completely different terms to
rest of Europe and the OSCE, said a European envoy.? While Walker
dismissed claims that he wanted airstrikes, he admitted that the CIA was
involved in the countdown to them.

Walker said: ?Overnight we went from having a handful of people to 130
more. Could the agency have put them in at that point? Sure they
could. It?s their job. But nobody told me?. While no proof exists that
Walker was a CIA agent, his role was in many respects no different.

The article goes on to say that according to ex-CIA sources, diplomatic
observers were ?a CIA front, gathering intelligence on the KLA arms
and leadership. One agent said: ?I?d tell them which hill to avoid,
wood to go behind, that sort of thing?. Klorin Krasniqi, a New York
and one of the KLA?s largest financiers said: ?It was purely the
Diaspora helping their brothers?.?

The article describes how the KLA got round a loophole that permitted
sniper rifles to be exported to hunting clubs. Agim Ceku, a KLA
commander, had established many contacts during the latter stages of the
war through his work in the Croatian army. He said the Croatian
army had been receiving help from an American company called Military
Professional Resources Inc., whose personnel were in Kosovo at the

Walker?s testimony was another debacle for The Hague tribunal. Far too
much information was released as to the real series of events that led
up to the bombing of Serbia in 1999. Whether there was a massacre at
Racak will need further study, although sufficient evidence has been
shown for any objective observer to err on the side of caution. What is
certain is that Walker played a pivotal role in providing NATO with
justification for the bombing of Yugoslavia.

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