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 Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
'Heart risk' Milosevic told to rest
Slobodan Milosevic
Slobodan Milosevic does not recognise the court
A full health check on former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has found he is at serious risk of a heart attack and will need to rest.

"The medical report describes the accused as a man with severe cardiovascular risks," presiding judge Richard May, told the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

I have no intention of appointing counsels for a non-existent court

Slobodan Milosevic

Mr Milosevic faces more than 60 counts of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity relating to the wars which broke up the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The prosecution's top insider witness, former Serbian secret service chief Rade Markovic, told the tribunal on Thursday that Mr Milosevic had known of alleged atrocities by the Yugoslav police and army in Kosovo.

He said Mr Milosevic had been the effective boss of state security operations against the ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo during the 1998-1999 war which led to Nato intervention.

Mr Milosevic, 60, is due to cross-examine Mr Markovic on Friday.

Health problems

The former Yugoslav leader has suffered at least two bouts of flu since his trial started in February, causing proceedings to be delayed by a month.

However, he has conducted a robust defence, and never looked frail.

In April last year, he was rushed to hospital with chest pains, but was subsequently given a clean bill of health.

Last week he was temporarily unable to attend hearings because of high blood pressure.

Rade Markovic
Rade Markovic said secret reports went straight to Milosevic
Experts recommend his workload be reduced, and further tests are to be carried out on him by a cardiologist, the court's spokesman Jim Langdale told BBC News Online.

The court will then consider all options open to it before deciding what action to take.

One of the three trial judges, Patrick Robinson, urged Mr Milosevic to appoint a defence lawyer, saying: "Your health is of paramount concern to the chamber."

But Mr Milosevic - who says he does not recognise the tribunal - stuck to his earlier refusals to be legally represented, replying: "This entire matter is a farce. I have no intention of appointing counsels for a non-existent court."

Prosecutors suggested imposing a defence counsel on Mr Milosevic.

One judge has suggested a compromise - that Mr Milosevic may be allowed to cross-examine witnesses with his lawyer.

The crucial link

The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan, at The Hague, says there is a strong possibility that after the summer recess, Mr Milosevic will no longer be wholly responsible for his own defence.

Thursday's hearing gave the prosecution until 13 September to finish its case against Mr Milosevic concerning events in Kosovo, and until 16 May 2003 to finish the cases relating to Bosnia and Croatia.

The tribunal starts a four-week summer recess this weekend.

Mr Markovic, who was brought from a Belgrade jail to testify at the tribunal, said the interior ministry had submitted daily secret reports on the Kosovo situation to Mr Milosevic and other Serbian Government members.

Your health is of paramount concern to the chamber

Judge Patrick Robinson

"Vlajko Stojiljkovic [the former interior minister] was duty-bound to inform Slobodan Milosevic daily on the activities of the interior ministry," he told the court.

He said Mr Milosevic had also been briefed daily on army activities.

Stojiljkovic committed suicide in Belgrade in April.

Mr Markovic is the first witness to testify that Mr Milosevic had effectively been the centre of power in Belgrade - a key point the prosecution has to prove for the former leader to be convicted.

Mr Markovic himself is being questioned in Serbia on charges of alleged involvement in the assassination of Mr Milosevic's opponents when he was head of the Serbian state security service.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Jeremy Hillman
"Milosevic reacted angrily to suggestions that he should now hire a lawyer"
  The BBC's Mike Wooldridge
"The trial is at a key point"
  Jim Landale, UN War Crimes Tribunal
"He has a severe cardio vascular risk"

At The Hague

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28 Jun 02 | Europe
21 Mar 00 | Medical notes
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