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Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 21:12 GMT 22:12 UK
Milosevic 'aware of Kosovo atrocities'
Slobodan Milosevic
Slobodan Milosevic does not recognise the court
Serbia's former secret service chief, Rade Markovic, has given evidence that Slobodan Milosevic knew fully about alleged atrocities being carried out in Kosovo by Yugoslav army and police units.

Mr Markovic told the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague that the former Yugoslav president had been briefed daily on the activities of the security forces in Kosovo.


Vlajko Stojiljkovic [interior minister] was duty-bound to inform Slobodan Milosevic daily on the activities of the interior ministry

Rade Markovic
Correspondents say Mr Markovic is the most significant witness from Mr Milosevic's inner circle to testify against his former boss.

In another possible setback for the trial, a medical report to the court has revealed that Mr Milosevic is under severe strain and at serious risk of a heart attack.

Judges are considering appointing a counsel to represent him, an idea he has so far resisted.

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.

Mr Markovic, who was brought from a jail in Belgrade to give evidence, said that Mr Milosevic brought both branches of the security forces under his direct control before the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

Key point

Mr Markovic is the first witness to provide legal testimony 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.

The former security chief said that the Interior Minister, Vlajko Stojiljkovic, had been "duty-bound to inform Slobodan Milosevic daily on the activities of the Interior Ministry".

He said Mr Milosevic had been the effective boss of state security operations against the ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo and that the interior ministry had submitted daily secret reports on the situation to him and other government officials.

Rade Markovic
Rade Markovic is a key witness for the prosecution
Stojiljkovic took his own life in Belgrade in April shortly after the Federal Yugoslav Parliament agreed to co-operate with the war crimes tribunal.

Mr Markovic is serving a one-year jail sentence in Belgrade for destroying secret police files after a popular uprising forced Mr Milosevic from power in 2000.

He is also being investigated over his involvement in the assassination of Milosevic opponents.

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

Health worries

But a full health check on the former leader has found he is "a man with severe cardiovascular risks," presiding judge Richard May told the tribunal.

Mr Milosevic's health has already delayed proceedings by a month, but he has still conducted a robust defence.

Experts are recommending that 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.

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."


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

Slobodan Milosevic

But Mr Milosevic - who says he does not recognise the tribunal - replied: "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.

A compromise has also been proposed - that Mr Milosevic be allowed to cross-examine witnesses with his lawyer.

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.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan
"Mr Markovic confirmed that Mr Milosevic brought the police and army under his control"

At The Hague

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28 Jun 02 | Europe
25 Jul 02 | Europe
12 Feb 02 | Europe
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