Assisted defence for Slobodan Milosevic

06 September 2004 by Thierry Cruvellier

"Pa bavite se!" "Well, you deal with that!" Slobodan Milosevic shouted to the court, his arms outstretched as if throwing a sack of hot potatoes towards the feet of his judges. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had not only just decided to end the three-year freedom of the Serbian ex-head of state to conduct his own defence. It also had the temerity to ask him how he wanted to proceed from now on.

Infuriated, the defendant let off steam for a brief moment before putting away his bag, his face sunken and gloomy. Two and a half years after the opening of the trial proper and the day after the start of presentation of defence evidence, the ICTY judges have engineered a remarkable change in the direction of the court's flagship trial. In a ruling handed down on 2 September, they put an end to the possibility of Milosevic conducting his own defence against charges made by the UN tribunal.

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