Milosevic trial resumes after a three-week break

Monday, April 8th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ The war crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic resumed Monday after a three-week interruption that set back the courtroom schedule.

Milosevic had fallen ill, leading to a two-week adjournment, followed by a one-week recess previously scheduled for the first week of April. A spokesman for the U.N. tribunal said Milosevic had fully recovered from the flu.

The judges ordered the hearing into closed session to protect the identity of the first witnesses, an action usually taken in the case of victims who fear retribution for their testimony.

In a brief open session, the judges handed down a ruling allowing Milosevic continued latitude in cross-examining witnesses, but said the court would intervene to ensure he does not waste time with repetitive questioning or harassment.

The judges were responding to submissions by the prosecution and the three ``friends of the court,'' who were assigned to protect Milosevic's interests when he refused to accept a defense attorney.

The trial, which had been expected to last as long as two years, was already behind schedule because of Milosevic's lengthy cross-examinations. Since it began Feb. 12, the court has heard only 19 of the 350 witnesses the prosecution planned to call.

Milosevic faces separate indictments for alleged war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo during the decade of Yugoslavia's disintegration. He could be sentenced to life imprisonment if convicted of any one of 66 counts.