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Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 10:03 GMT
Milosevic trial date set
Slobodan Milosevic arrives in court flanked by guards
Milosevic: Refuses to plead to the charges against him
Ex-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity has been scheduled to begin on 12 February next year, the UN war crimes tribunal has announced.

The trial - the biggest in the tribunal's history - will relate to events in Kosovo, and will involve months of testimony from more than 220 witnesses.

The BBC's Janet Barrie in The Hague says it could take years to produce a verdict.

UN war crimes tribunal chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte
Carla Del Ponte: Bosnia indictment to be filed next week
Mr Milosevic, who is appearing at his third pre-trial hearing, has so far refused to recognise the court's legitimacy.

He described it on Tuesday as "part of the machinery" to commit crimes against his country.

On Monday he launched an attack on the tribunal, when asked to enter a plea, and continued shouting despite the attempts of presiding judge Richard May to silence him.

A new indictment relating to events in Croatia was read to the tribunal on Monday, but chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said on Tuesday it would take months to prepare the case for trial.

Kosovo prosecution case
170 days to present
228 witnesses
500 documents
167 videos
775 photographs
30 maps
Hundreds of forensic reports
She said she would file an indictment against Mr Milosevic regarding events in Bosnia next week - she has previously said that it will include the tribunal's most serious charge of genocide.

The February trial will be delayed if Ms Del Ponte succeeds in a bid to have the three trials combined.

Mr Milosevic, who has refused to appoint lawyers, is being represented for the first time by a team of independent lawyers appointed on his behalf.

They argued on Monday that the UN World Court should be asked to rule on whether the international war crimes tribunal has the right to judge Mr Milosevic.

Microphone silenced

Later on Tuesday Mr Milosevic will be asked to speak about the conditions of his detention, said tribunal spokesman Jim Landale.

Monday's clash between Mr Milosevic and Judge May came as the ex-president was asked to plead guilty or not guilty to the amended Kosovo charge.

"I wish to say that the very text of the indictment we just heard shows the indictment is false," Mr Milosevic said.

As Mr Milosevic continued to speak, Judge May turned his microphone off, and told him sharply to stop interrupting.

As Mr Milosevic continued to protest, Judge May told him: "Mr Milosevic will you be quiet please."

A "not guilty" plea was entered on Mr Milosevic's behalf to the amended indictment, which takes into account mass graves found outside Belgrade and adds new charges stemming from sexual violence allegedly committed by Serb soldiers.

The BBC's Janet Barrie
"The prosecution says it will call over two-hundred witnesses"
The BBC's Linda Duffin
"This is clearly going to be an extremely lengthy trial"
See also:

29 Oct 01 | Europe
Milosevic's microphone tug-of-war
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
30 Oct 01 | Europe
Milosevic's long day in court
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