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Yugoslavia: Ashdown Says He Begged Milosevic To Stop

The Hague, 15 March 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Former British opposition leader Paddy Ashdown testified again today at the UN war crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic. Ashdown testified that in 1998, he begged the former Yugoslav president to stop the crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Ashdown is the first international diplomat to testify at Milosevic's trial at The Hague. He said that in 1998, he brought Milosevic a message from British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressing concern over the excessive use of force in Kosovo.

"The very purpose of my visit [in September 1998] was to seek to persuade you [Milosevic] to take action which would have prevented that intervention. I said to you, in specific terms, that if you went on acting in this fashion, you would make it inevitable that the international community would have to act and, in the end, they did have to act, and I warned you that if you took those steps and went on doing this, you would end up in this court. And here you are."

Prosecutors called Ashdown to testify yesterday. Milosevic cross-examined him today.

Ashdown takes up the post of UN high representative to Bosnia in May.

Milosevic is charged with 66 counts including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity for atrocities in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo.