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Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Milosevic press review

Newspapers from Yugoslavia, France and Germany - all published before Mr Milosevic's first appearance at the UN war crimes tribunal - consider the historic events now unfolding in The Hague, and the background to them in Belgrade.

In the Belgrade newspaper Politika journalist Mirko Klarin says that if Mr Milosevic wants to use the tribunal as a platform to make political declarations, he is facing the "'wrong judge".

He writes that of all judges in the tribunal, Judge Richard May from the UK is "most allergic" to political arguments.

The same paper quotes a senior member of the Serbian parliament describing the Hague tribunal as a "misfortune" for Yugoslavia and the world.

The chairman of the parliament's committee on judiciary, Dragor Hiber, says the tribunal was created by the international community, "because the judiciaries of former Yugoslav countries were not doing anything".

Guilt unproven

"As an institution created ad hoc, the tribunal can never be a legal ideal. The procedure is impermissibly slow... and the idea of presumed innocence of those indicted is undermined to a considerable extent," he says.

He adds that prosecutor Carla Del Ponte speaks of Mr Milosevic as a "culprit and criminal" even though he has not yet been proven guilty.

However, he rejects the view that the tribunal is "anti-Serb".

The Glas newspaper says that Mr Milosevic is in "Kursk", using the nickname given to the Scheveningen prison by a group of prisoners removed from the first floor where, it says, Mr Milosevic is staying.

According to one account the nickname was chosen because Kursk was the Russian city where Hitler's forces were broken by the Soviet army during World War II.

According to another account, the prisoners named the prison after the Russian submarine which sank last August in the Barents Sea with the loss of 118 lives.

The paper reports that considerable preparations "were taking place in Scheveningen prior to Milosevic's arrival with regards to the rearrangement of prisoners' cells".

Hostility

The newspaper also quotes US lawyer Nancy Peterson, who collected large amounts of evidence against Mr Milosevic for the Hague tribunal, telling the New York Times that it will not be easy to prove his guilt.

"There is no classic evidential paper that you would like to have as an ideal peace of evidence," she said.

The French daily Le Monde points out that the Serbs are still hostile towards the international court, despite their loathing for their former leader.

"More and more Serbs acknowledge that war crimes were committed in their name," the paper says in a dispatch from Belgrade, pointing out the important role played in raising awareness of the atrocities by the recent showing on television of mass graves near the Yugoslav capital.

"On the other hand, just as many believe that the Serbian people were the main victims of the genocide devised by the Croats and later the Albanians, and the victims of an international plot which led to the Nato air strikes in 1999," the paper writes.

Power struggle

Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung says the extradition of Mr Milosevic was not so much driven by a wish to uphold human rights as by a power struggle in Belgrade.

"The path to the arrest of Milosevic was primarily... politically motivated," the paper says, in a reference to the battle for political supremacy between the Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic, and the current Yugoslav President, Vojislav Kostunica.

The paper sees this as an important fact to bear in mind. It says Mr Milosevic's extradition could pave the way for charges to be brought against any number of other heads of state, even though, as it says, "international criminal prosecution has not yet fully matured at the point between crime and politics".

Hamburg's Die Welt says that Mr Djindjic has daringly broken with age-old Yugoslav state doctrine by putting economics before nationalism.

The paper says that Mr Djindjic's defiance of President Kostunica, by extraditing Mr Milosevic, and his wish, stated at the World Economic Forum in Austria, to make Serbia ready for European Union membership, shows how little store he sets by the current Yugoslav federation of Serbia and Montenegro.

"Serbia first," is how the paper describes Mr Djindjic's message to his people. It says the Serbian prime minister is determined to completely turn around the country, mainly economically, as the only way to defeat the continuing undercurrent of greater Serbian nationalism that still permeates the society there.

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