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Tuesday, 26 June, 2001, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Milosevic's defence lawyer interviewed
Slobodan Milosevic
Milosevic's future is in the balance
BBC:
What is your principal objection to the decree passed by the government on Saturday?

Toma Fila:
The principal question is not whether The Hague is legal or not or whether we co-operate. These questions are crazy - we must co-operate.

We are not talking about the legitimacy of The Hague, but constitutional questions should not be solved by decrees. Things like mad cow disease or the import of fertilisers are solved by decrees. Questions of constitutional importance are solved by law.

BBC:
Do you think there is a danger at all that the Yugoslav authorities will lift Mr Milosevic from his prison cell during the night and whisk him off to The Hague without going through this full legal process?

TF:
This is the Balkans and everything is possible here. It is more surprising to us if something is done according to the law.

It won't surprise me one bit if I wake up in the morning and Milosevic calls me from The Hague, neither will 10 million Serbs be over-excited. People aren't surprised when things happen that don't comply with the law.

But if we want to go forward to form a legal state - a democratic state - let's change it and let's work in accordance with procedure - if not, we are talking about a sell-out. For this new government, the only article they have for sale is Milosevic and the other Serbs, for as much as they can get.

BBC:
What are the key stages in the legal process outlined by the government?

TF:
If the procedure is in accordance with the decree, which is an interesting question, because they never actually said the decree refers to Milosevic, then the shortest period is 15 to 20 days.

If the court rules that this decree is constitutional, they will pick Milosevic up by his ear and send him to The Hague overnight. But if they say the decree is made for Milosevic then the decree would be proclaimed unconstitutional and Milosevic would be safe in Belgrade for another two years.

BBC:
What is Mr Milosevic's state of mind at the moment, and is he in good physical health?

TF:
His physical state is as it was before. He has high blood pressure, damage to blood vessels at the top of heart - angina pectoris - which can be all right or might be dangerous and fatal.

Like all heart disease, it could go on for ages or you can die.

Concerning his mental state, he is an interesting character - very strong mentally. Through politics he has probably got used to not trusting anyone but just analysing.

When I leave the jail after visiting him, he analyses things with his wife.

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