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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
British lawyers defend Milosevic
Milosevic has argued vehemently against the imposition of lawyers
Two British lawyers have been named as defence counsel for former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic in his trial for war crimes and genocide.

Senior barrister Steven Kay QC and his assistant, Gillian Higgins, have so far acted as court observers at the trial in The Hague.

They have been imposed upon Milosevic, whose heart trouble could kill him if he keeps defending himself, medics say.

The lawyers will take over his case from next Tuesday.

Mr Kay, a former secretary of the Criminal Bar Association of England and Wales, said in February 2002, that whenever he met 63-year-old Milosevic in court he gave him "a smile and a nod" and said "Hello". "There is never any reply."


He has served at the trial as an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, since September 2001.

These neutral observers can challenge the prosecution and cross-examine witnesses. They do not take instructions from the defendant but may develop lines of argument from things he says.

Mr Kay, who last month urged that the tribunal should examine Milosevic's fitness to stand trial, was among counsel who defended Bosnian Serb Dusko Tadic, who was the first person to be sentenced at The Hague after a full-length trial.

He and Ms Higgins also argued that Milosevic had the right to prepare his own case "even if he knowingly risks his own health in the process".


Mr Kay was called to the Bar in 1977, was appointed a QC in 1997, and is a recorder, or part-time judge, in the crown court.

He has also defended Alfred Musema at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Ms Higgins, who was called to the Bar in 1997, was legal assistant to Mr Kay in the Musema case, and also to Diana Ellis QC in the defence of Ferdinand Nahimana, also at the ICTR.

Mr Kay and Ms Higgins had recently argued that "imposing counsel, against the accused's wishes, is to contravene his right to self-representation".

They said it may constitute significant grounds of appeal.

The BBC's Michael Voss
"The court has decided to assign him a defence lawyer"


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