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Miloševic Can Defend Himself

Miloševic Can Defend Himself But Must Accept Court Lawyers, UN Tribunal Rules

Slobodan Miloševic can go back to representing himself in his ongoing genocide trial but must let his court-appointed lawyers assist him if his health threatens to interfere with the case, a United Nations tribunal ruled today.

Mr. Miloševic can take the lead in presenting his case “when he is physically capable of doing so,” the appeals chamber of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ICTY) ruled.

Should the former Yugoslav President’s health problems resurface “with sufficient gravity,” however, “the presence of assigned counsel will enable the trial to continue” even if he is temporarily unable to participate, the court said.

Mr. Miloševic had been representing himself since the start of his trial in February 2002 for his role in genocide, crimes against humanity and other war crimes during the conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo in the 1990s.

The proceedings have been delayed repeatedly due to his ill health, leading the Tribunal in September to appoint a team of lawyers to help ease his workload and reduce the chance of further stoppages. But Mr. Miloševic – who is suffering from heart problems – appealed the move.

Last week two members of the team, Steven Kay and Gillian Higgins, said Mr. Miloševic’s refusal to cooperate with them meant they could not do their job nor meet the ICTY's own code of conduct and asked the withdraw from the case.

The Tribunal has yet to rule on their request. Mr. Miloševic’s trial is scheduled to resume on 9 November.

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