DEFIANT Milosevic blasts U.N. court, which will indict him for genocide

Thursday, August 30th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ U.N. prosecutors said Thursday that they will indict Slobodan Milosevic for genocide in the Balkan wars. The defiant former Yugoslav bitterly complained during a tribunal session that he was being isolated in prison, unable to defend himself in the media.

The war crimes tribunal also ordered the appointment of a lawyer to assist Milosevic, who has refused to name his own defense counsel.

Milosevic repeated his refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the The Hague-based court, and said he saw no need to defend himself against what he called illegal indictments. He faces four counts of war crimes for the alleged suppression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999.

For the second time in a month, the former dictator squared off against the tough British presiding judge, Richard May, protesting that his meetings with his family and legal advisers were constantly watched by prison guards.

``I am discriminated against all the time, from the first day I got in,'' Milosevic said in English. ``Why you need monitoring of my talks with my grandson, who is 2 1/2 years old?''

Milosevic's grandson Marko visited Aug. 20 for his 60th birthday.

At another point, Milosevic belligerently asked, ``Why I am isolated from the press ... when every single day there is something printed or broadcast against me as a pure lie? So, you are keeping me in isolation.

He added: ``If there is on one side all that machinery you represent, all that secret services, military machinery, media machinery and everything else, and on my side is only the truth, then it is clear it is completely discriminatory. You cannot even mention evenhandedness.''

May cut the defendant short. ``Very well, Mr. Milosevic, there must be an end to this.'' The prison has rules barring media interviews ``and they must be followed. They don't discriminate against you.''

Several times May interrupted Milosevic as he launched a political harangue. ``We are not going to listen to these political arguments,'' the judge said with clear impatience. Finally, he adjourned the hearing while Milosevic was still trying to speak.

Outside the courtroom, Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said her office will indict Milosevic on Oct. 1 for genocide in Bosnia and war crimes in Croatia in the early 1990s. Those indictments would be combined with charges for crimes against humanity in Kosovo in 1999, and would likely go to trial in the autumn of 2002.

Milosevic was combative yet more respectful than at his first appearance, in July, when he had told the judge, ``that's your problem'' when asked if he wanted the indictment read in court.

During his two months in detention, Milosevic has been visited by several lawyers, including former U.S. attorney Ramsey Clark, and twice by his wife Mirjana Markovic.

In recent weeks, Milosevic was allowed to mingle with other war crimes suspects at the U.N. detention unit after more than a month of isolation. He is said to play cards with fellow inmates and spend much of his time reading.

Milosevic, who was transferred to The Hague June 28 by Serbian authorities, advised the court in writing last Friday he would not appoint an attorney to represent him before the ``so-called tribunal.''

The court said the appointed lawyer would not represent Milosevic, but would ``assist the court'' by ensuring that the defendant's interests were protected and that he gets a fair trial.

May said the tasks of the appointed lawyer would be to help prepare pretrial motions, to cross-examine witnesses during the trial and to make objections on his behalf.

May set a rough timetable for the Kosovo trial, saying a final trial date should be set within the first two months of next year. Another hearing on the status of the trial preparations will be held Oct. 29, and trial briefs must be filed by Nov. 26, he said. A final pretrial hearing was scheduled for Jan. 9, 2002.

Del Ponte told the court she intended to file new indictments for Bosnia and Croatia in the early 1990s, and would submit amendments in November to finalize indictment on Kosovo.

Del Ponte told reporters that the mass graves found in Serbia in recent weeks would not be enough evidence to convict the Milosevic of genocide in Kosovo. ``Bodies are not enough,'' the Swiss prosecutor said, ``There needs to be more.''

In the former Yugoslavia this week, forensic investigators continued to exhume bodies from mass graves, gruesome evidence they say will help convict Milosevic of crimes against humanity.

Investigators revealed at least four common burial sites across Serbia _ graves that contain the tangled remains of at least 800 victims of a brutal 1998-99 crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.