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Cameras banned from Gen. Clark's testimony against Milosevic

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Cameras banned from Gen. Clark’s testimony against Milosevic

  • The U.S. State Department is requiring Clark, a Democratic presidential candidate, to give his testimony in a closed courtroom and without cameras.

Dec. 11, 2003 — Cameras will be banned from the courtroom when retired Gen. Wesley Clark is called to testify during the trial of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic next week. The public gallery will be cleared, and transcripts of Clark’s testimony will not be released for 48 hours.

Cameras typically broadcast the proceedings on closed-circuit TV and the Internet, but will be blacked out by request of the U.S. State Department. Waiting 48 hours to publicly release Clark’s testimony will allow State Department lawyers to delete any information they consider harmful to national interests.

Clark, a Democratic candidate for president and the former commander of NATO forces during the war in Kosovo in which Milosevic was defeated, is scheduled to take the stand Dec.15-16 in The Hague, Netherlands. Milosevic is facing 66 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.

According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, Lou Fintor, a State Department spokesman, said the delay “is not to discourage or hinder reporting, but to allow for the maximum provision of information by Gen. Clark to the tribunal while at the same time protecting against the inadvertent disclosure of sensitive information.”

Clark’s campaign spokeswoman, Mary Jacoby, told the Tribune that Clark accepted the State Department’s terms for testifying.

“Because there were serious national security and intelligence issues, it was agreed with the State Department that the testimony should be closed,” Jacoby said.

U.N. prosecutors say closing the session will damage public perception of the trial’s fairness.

Secret testimony is usually reserved for intelligence matters and to protect the identity of rape victims or witnesses who fear for their safety, under the rules that govern the International War Crimes Tribunal. Throughout his run for the presidency, Clark has spoken openly and often about his experiences during the war in Kosovo, and even authored a book on the subject.

Many political and military officials — some on Clark’s level, others of higher office or appointment — have already publicly testified against Milosevic and other former leaders. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright gave her testimony in public session against Bosnian Serb leader Biljana Plavsic.


© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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