The former President of Yugoslavia defiantly refuses to accept the authority of the Hague tribunal, as the Yugoslav justice minister issues statements which prove the transfer of Milosevic illegal
At the third conference of the Hague tribunal, the Kosovo indictment was changed, and a new one regarding actions in Croatia was formally opened against Slobodan Milosevic. The revision of the Kosovo document raised the number of forceful deportations from 740,000 to 800,000 people and stipulated that the former Yugoslav president was responsible for sexual assault cases committed by Yugoslav federal troops. The indictment for crimes committed in Croatia involves the alleged deportation of 170,000 people between 1991 and 1992.
Yet again, judge Richard May turned off the former president's microphone and denied him his right to speak after Mr. Milosevic stated that he did not recognize the jurisdiction of the Hague tribunal and that he had committed no crimes, but rather, had acted legitimately against “criminal aggression and terrorism." He called the indictments “totally fabricated” and stated that “The truth cannot be drowned by a flood of false indictments."
Due to the fact that Slobodan Milosevic refuses to appoint a defense team, because he claims he has nothing to defend, the judge entered a plea of “not guilty” on his behalf and a team of three “amici curiae” was appointed to defend him, although Mr. Milosevic refuses to speak to them.
They are the Serbian lawyer Branislav Tapuskovic, Briton Steven Kay, and the Dutch lawyer Mischa Wladimiroff. They contend that the extradition and transfer of Slobodan Milosevic from Belgrade to The Hague was illegal and that the court itself is illegitimate. They base their premise on the fact that international law covering state sovereignty is dubious over whether heads of state should be tried before a court of justice. Branislav Tapuskovic says that the Serbian government had no right to extradite Mr. Milosevic, since such a decision had to be taken at the federal level. The three lawyers suggested that the World Court should decide whether or not the Hague tribunal is legitimate.
The prosecution, led by Carla del Ponte, states that next week another more serious indictment for genocide will be issued. She claims that the decision to extradite Milosevic had been taken by a Federal body and was executed by the Serbian government. This is not true. Part of the Serbian executive met hurriedly to rush through “legislation” in a private meeting. The decision was not even ratified by the Federal Supreme Court.
Federal Justice Minister Savo Markovic declared on October 29th that until a law on extradition has been passed, Belgrade cannot extradite Yugoslav citizens for trial abroad and even then, only if there is a specific clause regarding transfer of suspects.
How then can the extradition and detention of Mr. Slobodan Milosevic by the Hague tribunal be anything other than illegal? Carla del Ponte is the joke of the international legal profession.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON PORTUGAL