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AAAS Statistician Testifies for Prosecution in Milosevic Trial
A AAAS statistician testified early this week in the war crimes trial against former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. In the face of a combative cross-examination by Milosevic, who is serving as his own attorney, Patrick Ball, deputy director of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Program , defended his 67-page analysis of data that suggests that from March through June 1999, Yugoslav forces carried out a systematic campaign of killing and expulsions of Kosovar Albanians that led to the deaths of more than 10,000 people. Ball's testimony seems to rule out other potential causes that had been proposed by Milosevic and his defenders -- that the dead had been killed by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) or during NATO air attacks.
"The findings of this study are consistent with the hypothesis that action by Yugoslav forces was the cause of the killings and the refugee flow," Ball and his co-authors wrote in their report to the tribunal, Killings and Refugee Flow in Kosovo: March-June 1999. "Killings were used either to motivate the departures, or the killings were a result of the campaign."
Interviews, Exhumation Records Among Data Sources
To produce their report, Ball and his co-authors analyzed data on Kosovar refugees from the registries of Albanian border guards in the Albanian village of Morina, and complemented it with the records of other Albanian governent agencies and the U.N. High Commission for Refugees. The data on killings were drawn from exhumation records, and from interviews with refugees conducted by the Human Rights Watch, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the American Bar Association's Central and East European Law Initiative, co-sponsor with AAAS of the Ball report. Ball explains that the data on killings and refugee flows, based on 15,000 interviews and exhumation records, reveal that both seemed to occur in the same place, at the same time, and in distinct surges that suggest "the existence of an external cause."
Patterns in Refugee Flow and Killings
"When the overall estimates are compared at the regional level, a clear relationship remains between the patterns of refugee flow and killings," according to Ball's report to the tribunal. "The structure of the patterns in both refugee flow and killings over the time period in question is the key component for the findings of the present study...They correlated, nearly simultaneous variations in the social phenomena being measured in time and location strongly suggest a common, systematic cause of which the patterns are a result." Ball and his co-authors, Wendy Betts, Fritz Scheuren, Jana Dudukovich and Jana Asher, tested the data against what they knew about patterns of KLA activity and NATO airstrikes, and found that NATO and the KLA increased their activities after clear spikes in the number of killings and level of refugee flows, and not before. In contrast, the study's authors note that the only time there was "a drastic reduction in killings and refugee movement" came during a ceasefire that the Yugoslav government called to coincide with the celebration of the Orthodox Easter.