Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic opened his long-delayed defense at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal Tuesday, describing the battles of his Serbian people as self defense against internal rebellions and external attacks by Islamic warriors. Milosevic, charged with genocide and crimes against humanity in the Balkans, portrayed the Serbs as victims rather than aggressors: victims of a plan supported by the United States and Europe to break up Yugoslavia, of an attempt to wipe out Croatia's Serb minority, and of a Saudi-financed plot to create an Islamic state in Bosnia. Milosevic's statement, launching the second half of the most important war crimes trial since World War II, began with a complaint to the judges that he was allotted only four hours to make his opening argument, while prosecutors were given three days to outline their case when the trial began in February 2002, informs Associated Press. According to VOANews, The 63-year-old former leader was defiant as he opened his defense against charges of crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. Mr. Milosevic argued that Serbia's actions were in response to rebellions by other ethnic groups and to outside threats by Islamic extremists who took advantage of tensions in the former Yugoslavia to stir up trouble in the Balkans. He told the U.N. tribunal that thousands of Serbs were killed or driven from their homes in Croatia before the Yugoslav army reacted. He called this a rebellion against a state and insisted that a state has the right to control a rebellion. Mr. Milosevic has accused the court of being biased against him and the Serbian people, and says the trial is designed to cover up NATO war crimes in Kosovo. The former leader is charged with more than 60 counts of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity during the Balkan wars of the 1990s that killed more than 200,000 people. Mr. Milosevic wants to call more than 1000 witnesses, including former president Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Reuter also reports that he wants to call more than 1,000 witnesses, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former U.S. President Bill Clinton in the 150 days allocated to him. "Mr Milosevic intends to defend himself and I hope the trial chamber allows him to defend himself. If the trial chamber decides to appoint a defense lawyer, he will not cooperate with the defense lawyer," Milosevic's legal adviser Zdenko Tomanovic said. Two-and-a-half years into a trial widely regarded as Europe's most significant war crimes proceedings since Hitler's henchmen were tried after World War II, Milosevic made a sweeping opening statement peppered with historical details. Prosecutors rested their case in February after calling more than 290 witnesses. Judges want to conclude the case by October 2005. Milosevic has declined to enter a plea to the charges he faces. Pleas of not guilty were entered on his behalf.
Read earlier news stories by PRAVDA.Ru &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2001/04/09/3386.html' target=_blank> Pravda.RU Slobodan Milosevic: historical biography