BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Milosevic scorns UN tribunal
Slobodan Milosevic in court
Milosevic in court - a 'false tribunal' he said
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has made a brief and dramatic first appearance before the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity.

This trial's aim is to produce false justification for the war crimes of Nato committed in Yugoslavia

Slobodan Milosevic
In an opening session that lasted less than 15 minutes, a stony-faced Mr Milosevic denounced the proceedings, which were promptly adjourned.

"I consider this tribunal a false tribunal and the indictments false indictments," the former champion of Serbian nationalism told the presiding British judge, Richard May.

But Judge May ignored his objections.

"Mr Milosevic, you are now before this tribunal and you are within the jurisdiction of it. You will be tried by the tribunal," he told the former president.

Judge Richard May
Judge May ignored Milosevic's objections

Dressed smartly in a dark suit, Mr Milosevic sat alone in the court, apart from a United Nations guard on either side of him.

The bench for his defence counsel was empty as he had decided to appear in court without a defence team - a move that gave him more chance to speak for himself.

A BBC correspondent at the court says Mr Milosevic treated the proceedings with total contempt. He made no move to stand when the judge entered the courtroom, but did so when prompted.

When Judge May asked him if he wanted to hear all the charges against him, Mr Milosevic replied in English: "That's your problem."

He refused to enter a plea and continued arguing against the legal status of the court.

Limousine carrying Slobodan Milosevic to Hague tribunal
The convoy takes Milosevic to court

"This trial's aim is to produce false justification for the war crimes of Nato committed in Yugoslavia," he said.

At that point Judge May used a button on his desk to cut off Mr Milosevic's microphone.

"Mr Milosevic, this is not the time for speeches," he said, adding that he would be able to challenge the legitimacy of the court at a later date. Judge May then adjourned the case until 27 August - an automatic procedure in cases where the defendant refuses to enter a plea.

Click here to read the transcript of the hearing

Across the courtroom sat Carla Del Ponte, the UN chief prosecutor who led the fight for Mr Milosevic's extradition. Afterwards, Ms Del Ponte and Mr Milosevic spoke briefly, away from the cameras.

"There were no harsh words, no insults," an adviser to Ms Ponte told reporters.

Months of preparation

Mr Milosevic is the first former head of state to face war crimes charges in an international court.

Charges against Milosevic
Deportation, a crime against humanity
Murder, a crime against humanity
Murder, a violation of the laws or customs of war
Persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds, a crime against humanity
He is facing charges arising from the killing and deportation of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999.

Both sides are now expected to spend months preparing their cases for a trial which could take years.

The UN tribunal is keeping Mr Milosevic in isolation, away from the 38 other captured war crimes suspects from the former Yugoslavia.

He is under 24-hour observation to ensure he does not attempt to kill himself - as both his parents did.

Mr Milosevic is accused of having ultimate responsibility for the mass deportation of 740,000 Kosovo Albanians and for the murder of hundreds of individually named Albanians, said to have been committed by Serb soldiers and militias.

Further charges

Further charges are also being drawn up against him relating to the wars in Croatia and Bosnia in the early 1990s which led to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

Mr Milosevic was flown out of the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade, last Thursday - the day before an international donor conference critical to the economic reconstruction of Yugoslavia.

The United States had made it clear that any aid was conditional on Mr Milosevic being brought before the war crimes tribunal.

The Serbian Government handed him over, ignoring opposition from the federal president and the junior coalition partner in the federal government. This sparked the collapse of the federal government.

Mr Milosevic had been held in jail in Belgrade since 1 April on charges of corruption and abuse of power.

The BBC's Paul Anderson
Tribunal officials in Belgrade say the surrender of Mr Milosevic was a huge breakthrough"
DarkoTrefunovic, Belgrade Inst of Political Science
"His strategy is to make himself a national hero"
Slobodan Milosevic
denies the legitimacy of the charges placed against him
War crimes expert Dr John Pritchard
"The argument Milosevic presented simply doesn't wash"
Scheveningen Prison Governor Tim McFadden
"He's behaved like a perfect gentleman"

Watch the former Yugoslav president's first appearance at The HagueMilosevic
First appearance at the Hague war crimes tribunal
AUDIO/VIDEO  real 56k

At The Hague

Still wanted



See also:

03 Jul 01 | Europe
30 Jun 01 | Europe
30 Jun 01 | Europe
29 Jun 01 | Europe
03 Jul 01 | UK Politics
29 Jun 01 | Business
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |