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Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 10:54 GMT
Milosevic complains of 'mistreatment'
Slobodan Milosevic
Milosevic has asked the court to intervene
The former Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic, has complained to the international war crimes tribunal that his wife has been denied a visa to visit him at the detention centre where he is being held.

Mira Markovic
Mira Markovic: Often dubbed the "Lady Macbeth of the Balkans"
Mr Milosevic said the refusal was tantamount to physical mistreatment by the Dutch authorities as it left him completely isolated during his war crimes trial.

He opened the eighth day of his trial for genocide by insisting that the court address this "urgent" problem.

The tribunal is to hear from more prosecution witnesses on Wednesday, with its investigators expected to take the stand.

"I consider this part of my physical mistreatment," the 60-year-old Milosevic told the court.

He said it had been agreed that his wife Mira Markovic, a professor of sociology, could visit him in the UN detention centre outside The Hague on Thursday, but the prison told him on Tuesday that she would be refused a visa.

Lively exchanges

Mr Milosevic began the cross-examination of prosecution witnesses on Tuesday with a frequently confrontational debate with Mahmut Bakalli - former Communist leader of the Yugoslav province of Kosovo - over the truth of his testimony.

Among others, Mr Milosevic queried Mr Bakalli's allegation that the former Yugoslav leader had known about the 1998 killing of 40 members of a single family - the Jasharis - in the Kosovo village of Prekaz.

Mahmut Bakalli shakes hands with Slobodan Milosevic when they met in 1998
Bakalli (left) and Milosevic: Confrontational debate
Milosevic charges
  • Genocide
  • Crimes against humanity
  • Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions
  • Violations of the laws or customs of war

    Click here for a full list of charges

  • Mr Milosevic said Jashari family members had refused to surrender, but Mr Bakalli retorted that women and children had been slaughtered.

    The BBC's Peter Biles says Mr Milosevic started in a confrontational mood, but was confident while the witness appeared at times ill at ease.

    Mr Bakalli had earlier told the court of what he called Mr Milosevic's policy of "apartheid" against the Albanian majority in Kosovo.

    Mr Milosevic countered this claim, asking Mr Bakalli to define apartheid and reminding his witness he was under oath - a statement that prompted a curt response from the witness.

    "You don't need to remind me of that," Mr Bakalli said.

    Demanding a "yes or no" answer, Mr Milosevic then launched into detailed questioning of Mr Bakalli's role when he was Kosovo leader as well of his alleged links to the Kosovo Liberation Army - the armed group that began fighting for an independent Kosovo in the late 1990s.

    Click here for extracts from Milosevic's defence

    Mr Bakalli rejected this saying he had only had contacts of a political or diplomatic nature.

    Both men were often interrupted by presiding Judge Richard May, who asked Mr Milosevic to give the witness a chance to respond and to stick to the line of questioning and Mr Bakalli to keep his answers short.

    First witness

    Mr Bakalli was the first of up to 350 witnesses called by the UN to give evidence. He took the stand after Mr Milosevic concluded his three-day opening address.

    Mahmut Bakalli shakes hands with Slobodan Milosevic when they met in 1998
    Bakalli (left) and Milosevic: Confrontational debate

    In his testimony, Mr Bakalli, who said he had met Mr Milosevic while trying to calm tension after clashes between Serb security forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas, testified he had suffered simply by being an Albanian.

    Mr Bakalli, now a member of the new Kosovo parliament, said a Serbian security officer told him in 1997 that Mr Milosevic already had a "scorched earth" plan for Kosovo, which allegedly included the levelling of 700 ethnic Albanian settlements.

    Mr Milosevic faces charges of genocide in Bosnia, and of crimes against humanity in Kosovo and Croatia.

    He rejects the legality of the court and has refused to appoint lawyers to defend him in what is being described as the most important war crimes trial since the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

    He is the first former head of state to be indicted before an international tribunal.

    See also:

    19 Feb 02 | Europe
    Kostunica attacks Milosevic trial
    18 Feb 02 | Europe
    Milosevic defence transcript
    14 Feb 02 | Europe
    Kosovo glee at Milosevic plight
    11 Feb 02 | Europe
    Milosevic allies still at large
    01 Feb 01 | Europe
    UN stands by Milosevic indictment
    19 Feb 02 | Europe
    The Milosevic case: Timeline
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