Milo­se­vic to face geno­cide charge

Malta Independent - - COMMENT -

For­mer Yu­goslav pres­i­dent Slo­bo­dan Milo­se­vic is to be charged with geno­cide - the most se­ri­ous of all war crimes.

Mr Milo­se­vic was told of the new in­dict­ment as he ap­peared be­fore the In­ter­na­tional War Crimes Tri­bunal in The Hague for a sec­ond time.

He is al­ready fac­ing four charges re­lat­ing to war crimes and crimes against hu­man­ity aris­ing from the Kosovo con­flict in 1999.

Mr Milo­se­vic is the first for­mer head of state to be charged with such of­fences.

The tri­bunal’s chief pros­e­cu­tor, Carla Del Ponte, said three amend­ments to the ex­ist­ing in­dict­ment against him were be­ing pre­pared.

They in­cluded charges re­lat­ing to the con­flicts in Bos­nia and Croa­tia, Ms Del Ponte said.

Lawyer

Dur­ing the 40-minute hear­ing, Mr Milo­se­vic again re­fused to recog­nise the tri­bunal and com­plained about the con­di­tions of his de­ten­tion.

He is al­ready pur­su­ing a case in the Dutch courts, claim­ing he is be­ing held il­le­gally.

Pros­e­cu­tors asked the tri­bunal to ap­point a lawyer to de­fend the for­mer Yu­goslav pres­i­dent.

The judges re­fused, say­ing it would not be prac­ti­cal to force le­gal coun­sel on Mr Milo­se­vic.

But they did ap­point a lawyer to as­sist the court in en­sur­ing a fair trial.

The lawyer will be able to cross-ex­am­ine wit­nesses, and draw at­ten­tion to any ev­i­dence that may in­di­cate Mr Milo­se­vic’s in­no­cence of the charges against him.

Pre­sid­ing Judge Richard May ad­journed the hear­ing to 29 Oc­to­ber.

The tri­bunal hopes to fix a date for the trial be­fore the end of next Fe­bru­ary.

Slo­bo­dan Milo­se­vic went on trial in Fe­bru­ary 2002 charged with 66 counts of crimes against hu­man­ity, vi­o­lat­ing the laws and reg­u­la­tions of war, and geno­cide.

The trial was ex­pected to be one of the most com­plex cases in post-war le­gal his­tory.

Mr Milo­se­vic’s de­ci­sion to de­fend him­self – along with his poor health – fur­ther slowed down pro­ceed­ings as has his ten­dency to give long speeches rather than ques­tion wit­nesses.

Wit­nesses in­cluded al­leged vic­tims of crimes in­sti­gated by Mr Milo­se­vic as well as Bri­tish politi­cian Paddy Ash­down and US di­plo­mat William Walker.

In July 2002 Mr Milo­se­vic’s pre­de­ces­sor, Zo­ran Lilic, was ar­rested and flown to The Hague, af­ter re­fus­ing an or­der to tes­tify.

The for­mer Yu­goslav leader launched his de­fence in Au­gust 2004.

He was found dead in his cell in March 2006. By the time of his death, the pros­e­cu­tion had com­pleted its case but the de­fence was con­tin­u­ing, in­ter­rupted by Milo­se­vic’s fre­quent ill-health.

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