Milosevic: the Kosovo exit

05 December 2005 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

On 29 November, in an unusual show of unanimity, both the accused Slobodan Milosevic and prosecutor Geoffrey Nice opposed the severance of the Kosovo case from the Bosnia and the Croatia cases, as proposed by the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in this long-winded, nearly 4-year trial. The idea of the judges is to let the former president of Yugoslavia finish his Kosovo defence and quickly wind up this case with a judgement.

This is not the first time the judges have contemplated splitting up the case. The Trial Chamber started in 2001 with two separate cases. But on April 19, 2002 the Appeals Chamber accepted the prosecutor's view that evidence related to Bosnia and Croatia could be relevant to Milosevic's state of mind during the Kosovo war and decided to join the three cases. They left an opening, however, for a future change of heart. "If, with the benefit of hindsight it becomes apparent to the Trial Chamber that the trial has developed in such a way to become unmanageable [...] it will be still open to the Trial Chamber at that stage to order a severance of the charges," the Appeal judges wrote.

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