Lie Has Short Legs

(Old Serbian Saying)

by Pedja Zoric

November 26, 2001

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Pedja Zoric contacts Don Sellar, the Ombudsman of The Toronto Star (TorStar)

From: Pedja Zoric
Sent: Monday, September 03, 2001 3:27 AM
To: ombud@thestar.ca; fair@fair.org
Cc: sorabia@yahoogroups.com
Subject: re: Toronto Star: Milosevic's bravado

Dear Toronto Star Ombudsman

Toronto Star editorial from September 2nd, 2001, titled "Milosevic's bravado" contains a statement: "Methodically, chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte and her team are linking Milosevic to the deaths of 250,000 people, many of them Muslim, during his violently nationalistic 13-year rule."

This statement does not have words like "estimated," "according to," "believed," etc. So I assume that 250,000 persons killed, is the fact, without any doubt.

Usually people have names, father' names, date of birth, place of birth.

I'm asking Toronto Star to make public the list with the names of 250,000 killed, father' names, DOB and place of birth.

And if possible the circumstances of their deaths, at least in what war they died: Croats against Serbs in Krajina, or in what of Bosnian wars: Muslims against Serbs, Croats against Muslims, Croats against the Serbs or Muslims against the Muslims, or in what of Kosovo wars: Albanians against Serbs, Albanians against Albanians or NATO against the Serbs and the Albanians.

I think I'm not asking too much, since the Toronto Star states with great authority that there were 250,000 people dead in wars in the Former Yugoslavia. And I hope 72 hours is enough time to come up with such a name list.

I also ask you as the Ombudsman to check the Toronto Star's archives and analyze the Star's own reporting on the number of killed during the 1990s in Yugoslavia, report by report. I hope you'll find the sudden jump in number of killed, from 20,000 to 200,000 killed in Bosnian wars, and the occasion and the person's name that announced such a dramatic number first. Any similarities to a Kuwaiti's incubator babies story?

Also, to my knowledge, Bill Clinton ("I did not have ...") was the first person to round that number to a quarter of a million, and Helmut Kohl first to round that number to 300,000.

Looking for a prompt reply.


Pedja Zoric

Toronto Star's Don Sellar answers

From: "Ombudsman, The Toronto Star" <ombud@thestar.ca>
To: 'Pedja Zoric'
Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2001 11:05 AM
Subject: RE: Toronto Star: Milosevic's bravado

Dear Pedja Zoric;

Thanks for your email. In war, casualty statistics can be unreliable, to say the least. The editorial, however, merely points out that the prosecution is linking Milosevic to 250,000 deaths. Presumably, del Ponte will flesh out that statistic when she presents the case at trial. You're welcome to send a letter to the editor disputing the figure and supplying your own.

Don Sellar,

Pedja Zoric persists

From: Pedja Zoric
Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2001 2:22 AM
To: Ombudsman, The Toronto Star
Subject: Re: Toronto Star: 250,000 deaths

Dear Don Sellar - Toronto Star Ombudsman,

Thanks for your prompt reply.

Agree that in wars casualty statistics can be unreliable, that's exactly my point. Toronto Star states that there were 250,000 deaths, again no words pointing that the number might be unreliable, words like "estimated," "according to," "assumed," "believed," etc. The number of 250,000 accompanied with mentioned conditional words, was widely used by western media. Without those words it becomes the fact, the truth. That way, Toronto Star writes the history, history that might be wrong.

I believe that that number played a great role in helping NATO convince the western public that NATO was right when it bombed Serbia. That's one of the reasons this number is very important to me.

I ask Toronto Star for some kind of proof.

For that matter, I ask you again, you as the Ombudsman, to check Toronto Star's archives, and trace number of deaths in your own published articles. I would like you, as the Ombudsman, to be aware of the overnight jump in the number of casualties in Bosnian wars, from 20,000 to 200,000 and the event when it was announced.

Pedja Zoric

Don Sellar follows up with a no-answer

From: "Ombudsman, The Toronto Star" <ombud@thestar.ca>
To: 'Pedja Zoric'
Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2001 10:14 AM
Subject: RE: Toronto Star: 250,000 deaths

Dear Pedja Zoric;

Newspapers don't write history. History is written through a steady sifting of information. Some of that information is proven wrong over time. Let's see if the prosecution makes her case.

Don Sellar,

Pedja Zoric is famous for his unremitting persistence...

Date sent: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 17:09:32 -0800
From: Pedja Zoric
Subject: Re: Toronto Star: 250,000 deaths in Bosnia
To: "Ombudsman, The Toronto Star" <ombud@thestar.ca>

Dear Don Sellar - Toronto Star Ombudsman,

Re: Our previous correspondence and the Star's article from Nov. 23, 2001 "Milosevic to be tried by UN court for genocide."

In one of your letters you said: "Presumably, del Ponte will flesh out that statistic when she presents the case at trial"

Let's see what she came up with:

http://www.un.org/icty/latest/latestdev-e.htm "It is alleged that during the take-over of territories within Bosnia and Herzegovina, thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats were killed and thousands more were imprisoned in over 50 detention facilities under inhumane conditions. Many more were forcibly transferred and deported from their homes. The total number of people expelled or imprisoned during the above period is estimated at over a quarter million."

Mr. Sellar, I'll be patient and wait for the actual indictment.

Did you have time to check TorStar's archives as per my earlier request? If not, can you please do so now, since we are getting close to the very serious business.

Pedja Zoric
Vancouver, BC

Any chance Don Sellar will ever answer Zoric's questions?


       Pedja Zoric is a computer guru who lives in Vancouver, Canada, and a member of the Serbian Canadian Society of Vancouver. He can be reached at Swans.

       Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Pedja Zoric 2001. All rights reserved.

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Published November 26, 2001
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