Defiant Milosevic back in the dock
THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic clashed with U.N. war crimes judges on Wednesday, accusing them of bias, and again accusing NATO of atrocities in Kosovo.
At a procedural hearing a month before his trial for alleged atrocities in Kosovo, Milosevic said the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had based allegations that he led a campaign in the province purely on British intelligence reports.
Milosevic pointed out that one of those lawyers appointed to assist him was British, and remarked that the trial chamber was also led by a British judge, Richard May.
"I have put forth here with respect to the illegality of this tribunal which was set up by a resolution of the U.N. Security Council, which does not have any jurisdiction to do so," Milosevic said through a translator.
May then turned off Milosevic's microphone, told him he would have his chance to make his case during the trial and closed the hearing.
"This is not the time for speeches," he said, tossing his headphones onto his desk. "We have listened to you patiently."
CNN's Christiane Amanpour said Milosevic's tone was one of "open hostility and defiance."
Milosevic has been charged with five counts of war crimes for the Serb crackdown on Kosovo Albanians in 1998-1999. Prosecutors will open their case February 12 at the start of the Kosovo trial.
He faces a later trial on charges of genocide for alleged crimes in Bosnia and Croatia.
When asked to comment on what he had heard, Milosevic, flanked by two U.N. guards, accused NATO and "Albanian terrorists" of war crimes including killing civilians and bombing maternity wards, hospitals, bridges and railways.
Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice said his team wanted to call 110 witnesses to testify against him, but May said he would allow 90 given "the size and complexity of the case."
May advised Milosevic to reconsider his decision not to appoint legal counsel and offered him a court investigator to help prepare his defence.
Prosecutors also asked the three-judge panel to consider withholding from Milosevic the identities of witnesses, saying he should not have the right to know the names because he refuses to recognise the tribunal's authority.
Judge Patrick Robinson described Nice's request as "wholly inappropriate" and said it would jeopardise preparation of Milosevic's case.
"We have to make sure he gets a fair trial -- that is our fundamental obligation," Robinson said.
Outside the courtroom, lawyers working with Milosevic said the defendant had intended to announce his witness list while at the hearing, and that he intended to call leaders of the NATO pact during the Kosovo conflict.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook were among those Milosevic had intended to call to testify.
Milosevic, 60, has said he will represent himself in court and has refused to enter pleas. The court has entered pleas of innocent on his behalf to all counts.
Milosevic, accused of responsibility for a Serb campaign of mass killings and expulsions of ethnic Kosovo Albanians, is to face a separate trial on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide in Croatia in 1991 and in Bosnia in 1992-1995.
This trial is due to immediately follow the first trial regarding Kosovo. But there is still a chance all the charges will be heard at one joint trial.
U.N. war crimes prosecutors have applied for leave to appeal against the decision to have separate trials. The next move is for an appeal chamber to decide on this application.
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