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Saturday, 23 June, 2001, 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK
Detention centre awaits Milosevic
former President Slobodan Milosevic
Slobodan Milosevic: Extradited and awaiting trial
By Geraldine Coughlan at The Hague

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has been handed over to the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague.

As the tribunal prepared to receive its prime suspect, there were questions about what type of accommodation awaits the former president, who will be his associates in detention, and how he is likely to pass the time before his trial.

Mr Milosevic was expected to be accompanied by United Nations officials on a flight to a Dutch military airport.

International War Crimes Tribunal, The Hague
Mr Milosevic will be held close to the tribunal
From there, he will be taken to the tribunal's detention centre in Scheveningen - a pleasant seaside suburb of The Hague, about 2km (1.2 miles) from the tribunal.

But Mr Milosevic will not be joining the tourists. Instead, he will become acquainted with his new environment - a bright, modern detention facility, fronted by a grandiose castle-like facade.

Familiar faces

Inside, he will meet some familiar faces including the only woman detainee, the former Bosnian Serb President, Biljana Plavsic, and the former speaker of the Bosnian Serb Parliament, Momcillo Krajisnik.

Former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic
Biljana Plavsic: Only woman detainee
Also detained is Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic, accused of the genocide of Muslims at Srebrenica.

When Slobodan Milosevic arrives he will become the 39th detainee at the UN facility.

The conditions at the detention unit are comfortable and informal. The staff pride themselves on providing a good quality of life to the Serbs, Croats and Muslims who mix freely.

The inmates have access to sports facilities, satellite television and special family rooms to spend time with relatives.

They may telephone their families for seven minutes a day, cook for themselves, paint or play the piano or guitar.

Their physical and emotional well-being is cared for by doctors and psychiatrists, and if someone needs a massage, that is provided as well.

Slow process

But one of the main concerns of the tribunal's Chief Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, is the length of time that the suspects spend in detention.

War Crimes Prosecutor Carla del Ponte
Carla del Ponte wants the trial process speeded up
Although the tribunal was set up in 1993, only four war crimes suspects are actually serving prison terms in Germany, Finland and Norway.

At present, 41 detainees are in proceedings before the tribunal - but only 10 are on trial in court.

But 27 new temporary judges are taking on some cases, which will speed up the trial process. In September the tribunal will be able to hold six trials simultaneously instead of the current three.

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See also:

22 Jun 01 | Europe
Serbs shocked by mass graves
18 Apr 01 | Europe
Milosevic's life behind bars
22 Jun 01 | Europe
Q&A: Milosevic's future
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