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Monday, 29 October, 2001, 11:36 GMT
Milosevic rejects Croatia charges
Slobodan Milosevic arrives in court flanked by guards
Milosevic: refuses to read the indictments against him
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has rejected new indictments against him as false and challenged the legitimacy of the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague.

In his third appearance at the court since his extradition he has been hearing amended charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Kosovo.

An indictment relating to the 1991-95 war in Croatia will also be read in public for the first time.

Slobodan Milosevic... planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted... the persecution of Croats and other non-Serb civilians

Hague indictment
"Truth cannot be sunk by a flood of false accusations," Mr Milosevic said in a terse statement to the court.

One of three "friends of the court" - independent lawyers appointed by the tribunal after Mr Milosevic refused representation - called for the United Nations to consider whether the court has the power to hear the case against Mr Milosevic.

Mr Milosevic has himself denounced the tribunal as "illegal" on the grounds that it was set up by the United Nation's 15-member Security Council and not by its entire membership in the General Assembly.

"You could ask the General Assembly or the Security Council... we have not found any reason why the General Assembly or the Security Council should deny [such a request]," said one of the friends, Professor Michail Wladimiroff.

Pro-Milosevic demonstration, Belgrade
Supporters of Mr Milosevic were on the streets of Belgrade at the weekend
Presiding Judge Richard May said the tribunal would consider Mr Wladimiroff's suggestion.

The friends also followed Mr Milosevic's lead in questioning the legality of his extradition.

But Mr Milosevic has refused to see the three lawyers and on Monday he distanced himself from their statements, saying he wanted nothing to do with them.

In a more muted performance than some of his earlier, flamboyant shows of defiance, he made clear again that he does not recognise the tribunal, and claimed it was politically motivated.

I have been accused because I had the honour to defend my nation from terrorism

Slobodan Milosevic
"I have been accused because... I defended my nation - I had the honour to defend my nation... from terrorism," he said speaking in Serbian, rather than English as he has previously done.

He once again refused to read the accusations against him: "I have no intention, still, to familiarise myself with the contents of something that is totally fabricated and is far from the truth," he said.

He went on to attack the Clinton administration which led Nato's bombing of Kosovo.

"No government had the competence to enter into arrangements whereby the constitution of Yugoslavia was violated," he said.

On the two earlier occasions Mr Milosevic has appeared before the tribunal, Judge May has halted his outbursts by cutting his microphone.

New indictments

The prosecution alleges Mr Milosevic committed war crimes to further the aim of creating a Serb state.

UN war crimes tribunal chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte
Carla Del Ponte: preparations for a Bosnia indictment almost complete
He is being presented with an amended indictment for alleged war crimes in Kosovo to take into account mass graves found outside Belgrade and adding new charges stemming from sexual violence allegedly committed by Serb soldiers.

The tribunal is also preparing an indictment against him over alleged crimes in Bosnia.

If the amended Kosovo indictment is accepted by the judges Milosevic will be asked to enter a new plea on those charges. He will also have to enter a plea for the Croatia indictment.

At his last two appearances he refused to enter any plea. The judges entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf and the charges were not read to him.

This time, the prosecution is asking the judges to read the full text of both indictments to Mr Milosevic.

His indictments hang unread outside his prison cell a short distance from the war crimes tribunal.

The BBC's Janet Barrie
"The tribunal says Mr Milosevic's political outbursts will not help him"
Mr Milosevic expresses
his contempt for The Hague tribunal through an interpreter
Jim Landale, International War Crimes Tribunal
"We are aware the eyes of the world are upon us"
See also:

28 Sep 01 | Europe
New Milosevic charges filed
30 Aug 01 | Europe
Milosevic to face genocide charge
30 Aug 01 | Europe
Milosevic's second hearing
31 Aug 01 | Europe
Milosevic trial delays build
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