News and Information

Milosevic wins new defence rights
November 1, 2004
Appeal judges in The Hague have ruled that former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has the right to defend himself but must have stand-by lawyers.

Mr Milosevic, who faces war crimes charges, will have far greater scope to run his case providing his health does not prevent him doing so.

But the judges said two court-assigned defence lawyers would remain involved in the case.

Mr Milosevic's poor health has repeatedly delayed proceedings.

He refused to co-operate with the defence team and insisted on his right to put his case to the court.

Began February 2002
Milosevic faces more than 60 charges
Prosecutors' case rested February 2004
Court already heard from 295 witnesses

Timeline: Milosevic trial

The tribunal was ruling on his appeal against the appointments.

"When he is physically able to do so Milosevic will lead the case," the appeals judges said.

Earlier, his lawyers claimed the judges had sacrificed his right to self-defence in order to speed up the trial.

Mr Milosevic denies charges of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1990s Balkans wars.

Legal wrangling

In September a defence team, including British barrister Steven Kay, was appointed to represent Mr Milosevic when the court ruled he was too ill to continue acting as his own defence lawyer.

But Mr Milosevic, reiterating arguments from his lawyer, told the judges that he should be allowed to direct his own defence.

He said that medical reports were wrong when they showed he was in danger of a heart attack if he continued representing himself.

The ruling on Monday said an appointed lawyer must remain on stand-by if Mr Milosevic's "health problems resurface with sufficient gravity".

The trial has been virtually stalled since Mr Milosevic refused to speak to Mr Kay or participate in the proceedings.

Mr Kay could only find four defence witnesses - almost all of Mr Milosevic's other witnesses refused to attend the trial unless the former president was allowed to defend himself.

In October, Mr Kay asked to quit, saying that trying to defend a hostile client was an impossible task.


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