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Friday, 31 August, 2001, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
Court rejects Milosevic challenge
Slobodan Milosevic in court
Mr Milosevic: Tribunal administers 'victor's justice'
A court in The Hague has ruled that former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic may not challenge the legality of his arrest and detention by the UN war crimes tribunal in the Dutch courts.

Presiding judge Roel Paris told the hearing the court was "not competent to hear the case of the plaintiff".

Just another arrow in the arsenal of the United States with which it persecutes and demonises enemies and corrupts international law

Slobodan Milosevic on The Hague tribunal
"National and international law recognises that within Dutch law the tribunal has the exclusive authority to decide to detain suspects... and that this is not the Netherlands' affair," he said in a written judgement.

Mr Milosevic was seeking to file a legal challenge demanding his immediate release from the UN jail in Scheveningen, a suburb of The Hague.

He has been detained there since his extradition from Belgrade in June, and made his second appearance at the war crimes tribunal on Thursday.

'Illegal' arrest

The tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, also revealed on Thursday that she would soon be charging him with genocide, in addition to four counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity which he is already facing.

Carla del Ponte outside The Hague
Carla del Ponte said genocide charges relate to Bosnian war
Lawyers for the former Serb strongman argued that the UN tribunal is illegal, because it was created by the United Nations Security Council, and not by the General Assembly.

They said this negated the agreement between the Dutch Government and the UN granting international jurisdiction to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

They also said Mr Milosevic's detention at the tribunal's prison was illegal because his arrest in Belgrade violated Yugoslav law.

Mr Milosevic himself was not present at the hearing.

Harsh statement

The BBC's Europe correspondent Angus Roxburgh says Mr Milosevic was reported to be not very confident that the Dutch court would rule in his favour.

Demonstrator in the press room at The Hague
A Milosevic supporter penetrated the tribunal press room
Mr Milosevic's own views on the war crimes tribunal were made clear in a harshly-worded 36-page statement issued after his second appearance before judges.

He said the tribunal was "just another arrow in the arsenal of the United States with which it persecutes and demonises enemies and corrupts international law".

Mr Milosevic believes the court is administering victor's justice following its 1999 air campaign against Serbia over its actions in Kosovo.

During Thursday's hearing he said he saw no reason to defend himself in front of what he called a false tribunal.

New charges

Chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte said three amendments to the existing indictment against Mr Milosevic were being prepared, including, for the first time, charges relating to the conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia.

"It will be for genocide in Bosnia. Croatia is still open," she told reporters outside the court.

She said a fifth charge relating to the 1999 Kosovo conflict would be laid against him in October or November.

Genocide is the gravest charge the tribunal can bring.

The BBC's Angus Roxburgh
"Lawyers have submitted that the tribunal is illegal"
See also:

30 Aug 01 | Europe
Milosevic to face genocide charge
30 Aug 01 | Europe
Milosevic's second hearing
20 Aug 01 | Europe
Milosevic gets birthday visit
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