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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Milosevic lawyers seek dismissal
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
Milosevic is refusing to co-operate with his new lawyers
Two British lawyers defending Slobodan Milosevic have asked permission to appeal against their appointment, after he refused to co-operate with them.

Lawyers Steven Kay and Gillian Higgins were imposed on the former Yugoslav president after the court decided he was too ill to conduct his own defence.

Mr Milosevic, who has heart problems, refuses to meet or talk to his lawyers.

The former Yugoslav president faces 66 charges of war crimes during the 1990s Balkan wars.

Mr Milosevic's defence team at the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague has warned that depriving him of his right to defend himself could affect the overall fairness of the trial.

In a written statement requesting the appeal, Mr Kay and Ms Higgins said: "It is the Accused's position that Assigned Counsel will not be in a position to present his case as well as he can or put his defence."

I demand that you restore my right to self-defence
Slobodan Milosevic
They also warned that "as the issue concerns the representation of the Accused and the presentation of his case, which is a point of fundamental importance to the trial, this is a ground which is capable of affecting the outcome of the trial".

Mr Milosevic repeated his daily request to the judges saying: "I demand that you restore my right to self-defence."

His lawyers said several witnesses have refused to give evidence at the hearing because Mr Milosevic is not allowed to represent himself.

The judges have criticised Mr Milosevic for failing to co-operate with the team appointed to him.

Doctor's warning

Presiding judge Patrick Robinson told him on Thursday that "if the opportunity for the accused to participate in the presentation of his defence is not grasped by him, the trial will nonetheless proceed and none can say there was injustice".

Mr Milosevic, 63, had represented himself since the beginning of the trial in February 2002.

Began February 2002
Milosevic faces more than 60 charges
Prosecutors' case rested February 2004
Court already heard from 295 witnesses

But his frequent bouts of ill health caused months of delay to the trial, prompting prosecutors to accuse him of "manipulating this tribunal" with his ailments.

Doctors said his heart condition could become life-threatening if he continued to represent himself.

Mr Milosevic will be able to question witnesses, but only after they have been examined by the defence.

Mr Milosevic, who has dismissed the charges against him as lies wants to call more than 1,000 witnesses, but it is unlikely they will all be able to appear during the 150 trial days allotted for his defence.

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