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slobodan milosevic
The trial of former Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic, is now underway in The Hague. He is the first former head of state to be tried for war crimes. He has been indicted on 66 charges relating to his role in three Balkan wars, and could face life imprisonment if found guilty of any one of them.

IN CROATIA: 1991-1992

10 counts of crimes against humanity
9 counts of grave breaches of the Geneva Convention
13 counts of violations of the laws or customs of war

IN BOSNIA: 1992-1995

10 counts of crimes against humanity
8 counts of grave breaches of the Geneva Convention
9 counts of violations of the laws or customs of war
2 counts of genocide and complicity in genocide

IN KOSOVO: 1998-1999

4 counts of crimes against humanity
1 count of violations of the laws or customs of war

The trial is expected to last for up to two years and the opening phase, which may last for four months, will focus on murder charges of hundreds of Kosovo Albanians and the expulsion of some 800,000 people from their homes in 1998-99.

During the ten years of conflict in the Balkans, 170,000 people died and three million fled their homes. Milosevic was nicknamed ‘the butcher of Belgrade’ whilst The Mirror, an English newspaper, has taken to calling Milosevic ‘Monster, Inc’, a word-play on the title of the recent Disney film.

British Judge, Richard May is presiding over the proceedings, which is logged as case IT-02-54 in the tribunal’s court number one. Security is tight and the public and press galleries are packed.

The chief prosecutor is Swiss attorney, Carla del Ponte, who is known for her previous prosecutions involving Mafia figures. In her opening statement, she said, ‘The events themselves were notorious and a new term ethnic cleansing came into common usage in our language. Some of the incidents revealed an almost medieval savagery and a calculated cruelty that went far beyond the bounds of legitimate warfare.’

She continued, ‘These crimes touch every one of us, wherever we live, because they offend against our deepest sense of human rights and human dignity.’

The deputy prosecutor, Briton Geoffrey Nice, has outlined the former president's career. Using video, flow charts and photocopies of documents, the prosecution claim that Milosevic played a central role in the ten years of conflict.

Milosevic claims that he does not recognise the legitimacy of the United Nations International War Crimes Tribunal and has refused to appoint counsel. The court, to ensure he has a fair trial, has provided three lawyers.

Copyright and Permission: Information Systems 2002

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