The Scotsman, November 02, 2002
Judge fears Milosevic's trial may never be finished
DANIELA VALENTA at THE HAGUE
The main judge in the Milosevic war crimes tribunal yesterday expressed fears that the former Yugoslav president’s trial may never be completed.
Postponing the trial after Milosevic complained of exhaustion, the presiding judge, Richard May, pressed for the trial to be speeded up to ensure it is completed before his poor health worsens.
Mr May said Milosevic required medical attention. Concerned about further delays, he asked the attorneys in the case to submit proposals in the next week for speeding up the trial.
"In light of the state of the accused’s health and the complexity of the case, the trial chamber is concerned about the completion of the trial," Mr May said when the court convened without Milosevic.
The trial that started in February was already disrupted in April and June for several weeks due to Milosevic’s ill-health.
Milosevic, 61, has a heart condition, and doctors at the UN court warned in July that he was at "a serious risk of a heart attack" because of the stress of the trial.
The trial, expected to last two years, has already been prolonged by breaks. After doctors two months ago advised that Milosevic should be given more rest, Mr May said the court would try to allow him four consecutive days off for every two weeks of the trial.
But the breaks seem not to have lessened the strain on Milosevic, who fell ill only three days after his last break.
A spokesman for the UN tribunal clarified that the three judges were not worried that the trial might be in jeopardy, but were concerned about repeated delays and the strain on Milosevic.
"The judges are only concerned about the obvious stress placed on all parties, including the accused himself," said a spokesman, Jim Landale. "They want to hear from the parties what could be done to reduce that stress."
The first head of state to stand trial for genocide, Milosevic is defending himself against 66 counts of war crimes committed during the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990’s.
Branislav Tapuskovic, one of the "friends of the court" appointed to protect Milosevic’s interests, said the discussions on the conduct of the trial could not be conducted without the defendant.
"I really believe that until he returns to the courtroom the assertions that we will express to you will not do much good," Mr Tapuskovic told Mr May.
The court adjourned until Monday, when it was to hear a report on Milosevic’s health.