Lilac told the court in which Milosevic is defending himself:

“I know that he was personally very upset and angry [about the massacre] and I think that he was very sincere in his behaviour and conduct. I am quite sure that … he could not have issued an order of that,” said the former Yugoslav president.

Despite exonerating Milosevic from blame for the massacre, he said the former Yugoslav leader had supported a Serb paramilitary training camp to fight in Bosnia just a few months before the Dayton Peace deal that ended the bloody conflict in 1995.

“The camp had been established or organised with the
approval of President Milosevic. I was really astonished as this was the period prior to Dayton,” he said, adding that the Yugoslav army’s Chief of Staff General Momcilo Perisic has informed him of the camp’s existence in October 1995.

Further testimony

However, during testimony, Lilic insisted that no important decisions could have been made in the 1990s without the express approval of Slobodan Milosevic.

Lilic explained that all relevant decisions were made by Milosevic, his wife Mirjana Markovic and an "inner circle" of party associates.

The former president said: "The decisions were being made by an inner circle. These decisions were concieved at Milosevic's home and authorised by the Executive Comittee of the Socialist Party. Sometimes decisions were published in the media even without authorisation".

The "inner circle" included PM Mirko Marjanovic, Parliamentary Speaker Dragan Tomic, Milomir Minic, Milan Milutinovic, Nikola Sainovic, Gorica Gajovic and Uros Suvakovic, whom he assessed as a "very interesting member".

Prosecution continues

Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice asked the former premier if Milosevic had had a broader strategy for unifying Serbs into one state, to which Lilic replied:

"The slogan 'All Serbs in a single state' has been used for years...the former Yugoslavia was the only such state and all efforts were focused on preserving it".

The tribunal's prosecution continued by extensively probing the witness with regard to presidential authority, as well as the jurisdiction and structure of the Supreme Defence Council.

Lilic's testimony continues with Milosevic expected to cross-examine the witness on Wednesday. The trial of the former Yugoslavian president began in February 2002.