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Fire At Milosevic Trial Building

March 5, 2002

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ A fire started in the cafeteria of the U.N. war crimes tribunal Tuesday, prompting authorities to evacuate the building minutes before Slobodan Milosevic’s trial was set to resume.

Fire brigades arrived at the scene as helmeted policemen went into the building. Although firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze, the downtown building remained full of thick smoke. No injuries were immediately reported.

A tribunal spokesman said the fire started on the second floor in a fryer in the kitchen.

A security guard who spoke on condition of anonymity said no one would be allowed back in until all rooms were ventilated. Tribunal staff, media and others were taken to a congress center across the street.

Milosevic’s legal adviser, Zdenko Tomanovic, told The Associated Press that Milosevic had been returned to his detention facility a 30-minute drive away for security reasons.

It was unclear what effect the fire would have on the trial of Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president indicted for crimes against humanity, or on the trials of other suspects taking place in adjacent courtrooms.

Milosevic is on trial on 66 charges for war crimes and genocide during Yugoslavia’s violent breakup in the 1990s. The former Yugoslav president could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted on any count.

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