AP Trial of Ailing Milosevic Slows Pace
Trial of Ailing Milosevic Slows Pace
Tue Sep 30, 3:14 PM ET
By ANTHONY DEUTSCH, Associated Press Writer
THE HAGUE, Netherlands - The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal agreed Tuesday
to reduce the pace of Slobodan Milosevic (news - web sites)'s trial,
responding to concerns about the former Yugoslav president's health.
In another courtroom, Bosnian Serb politician Miroslav Deronjic
confessed to war crimes charges for the deaths of 65 Bosnian Muslims
during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.
The judges in Milosevic's trial cut the number of weekly sessions to
three half-days. The landmark trial, which started in February 2002, had
been sitting for an alternating four or five mornings a week.
But a physical and psychological examination presented to judges Monday
found the president's health was too strained to maintain even that
The medical report was not made public, but some of its findings were
discussed in court. Milosevic did not attend because he was ill.
Milosevic, 61, who was in power for 13 years and presided over four
Balkan wars, is defending himself against 66 counts of war crimes,
The trial has lost nearly a quarter of scheduled trial days, more than
70 hearings, due to Milosevic's bouts with flu and high fever, or
fatigue. He has suffered a heart condition for years and takes
Prosecutors said nearly 40 of their witnesses have been sent home
without testifying, due to interruptions caused by Milosevic's ailments.
Most were able to testify later, but prosecutors estimated the related
cost for the court at $157,000.
"He has shown himself to be unfit (for trial)," said prosecutor Geoffrey
Prosecutors called on judges to amend the court's rules to avoid further
delays. They suggested appointing a defense lawyer to assist Milosevic
when he is unable to appear in court or when "the task of defending
himself is beyond him." Nice further proposed that the court allow
witnesses to testify in the defendant's absence.
Milosevic refuses to recognize the court's authority or to appoint
formal defense lawyers, although he is assisted by two legal associates
based in the Netherlands. Judges were to rule on the prosecution
submissions at a later date.
Under a limit set by the court, prosecutors have 46 more trial days to
call witnesses, and hope to wrap up their case by the end of the year.
Milosevic then will present the defense case after a three-month break,
and the trial could stretch into 2006.
Meanwhile, in an agreement with U.N. prosecutors, regional political
leader Deronjic pleaded guilty to one count of persecution on religious
or racial grounds. Prosecutors dropped five other counts and recommended
a minimum prison sentence of 10 years.
In 1992, as the local head of the Serbian Democratic Party led by
Radovan Karadzic, Deronjic controlled Serb paramilitary forces in the
Bratunac area of eastern Bosnia during an attack of the village of
Glogova, his indictment says.
Deronjic is the latest of more than half a dozen suspects to confess to
their crimes at the U.N. court in exchange for lesser charges.
The decade-old tribunal was established by the U.N. Security Council to
prosecute individuals for atrocities during the breakup of the former
Yugoslavia. Two of its most wanted suspects - former Bosnian Serb leader
Radovan Karadzic and wartime Gen. Ratko Mladic - remain at large.