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Milosevic at War Crimes Tribunal

January 9, 2002

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic appeared before war crimes judges on Wednesday, a month before he goes on trial for alleged atrocities in Kosovo.

The ousted leader has been charged with five counts of war crimes for the Serb crackdown on Kosovar Albanians in 1998-99. Prosecutors will open their case Feb. 12 at the start of the trial.

Milosevic has said he will represent himself in court.

The biggest challenge for prosecutors will be to link the widespread persecution and murder of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo to Milosevic and his policies. They will call dozens of witnesses, including former Serb government officials awaiting their trials in The Hague, to connect his government to the crimes.

It was Milosevic’s fifth appearance at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia since he was transferred to the Netherlands in June 2001. During six months of detention he has refused to cooperate with the court or to appoint a lawyer.

The court has entered innocent pleas on his behalf to all counts.

In the Kosovo case, Milosevic is charged in the deaths of nearly 900 Kosovar Albanians, the deportations of 800,000 people and sexual assault by Yugoslav army troops under his command.

He also faces charges of genocide for alleged crimes in Bosnia and Croatia between 1992 and 1995, including the mass murder of thousands of Muslims in Srebrenica. Those crimes will be heard at a second trial for which no date has been set.

Milosevic claims the tribunal is illegal and has filed proceedings at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, to contest the tribunal’s jurisdiction. He argues that his arrest and detention have violated the European Convention on Human Rights and requests that his case be dismissed.

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