Trial of Slobodan Milošević

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The war crimes trial of Slobodan Milošević, the former President of Yugoslavia, at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) lasted from February 2002 until his death in March 2006. Milošević faced 66 counts of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes committed during the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. He had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

In a judgment issued on 24 March 2016 in the separate trial of Radovan Karadžić, the ICTY said there was insuffucient evidence in that case that Milošević had supported plans to expel non-Serbs from Serb-held territory in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war.[1]

Background[edit]

Milošević was indicted in May 1999, during the Kosovo War, by the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for crimes against humanity in Kosovo. Charges of violating the laws or customs of war, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions in Croatia and Bosnia and genocide in Bosnia were added a year and a half later.

The charges on which Milošević was indicted were: genocide; complicity in genocide; deportation; murder; persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds; inhumane acts/forcible transfer; extermination; imprisonment; torture; willful killing; unlawful confinement; wilfully causing great suffering; unlawful deportation or transfer; extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly; cruel treatment; plunder of public or private property; attacks on civilians; destruction or wilful damage done to historic monuments and institutions dedicated to education or religion; unlawful attacks on civilian objects.[2][3]

The trial[edit]

Following Milošević's transfer, the original charges of war crimes in Kosovo were upgraded by adding charges of genocide in Bosnia and war crimes in Croatia. On 30 January 2002, Milošević accused the war crimes tribunal of an "evil and hostile attack" against him. The trial began at The Hague on 12 February 2002, with Milošević defending himself.

Rade Marković stated that a written statement he had made implicating Milošević had been extracted from him by ill-treatment legally amounting to torture by named NATO officers[4] Judge May declared this to be "irrelevant", but Milošević stated that it was forbidden under the 1988 rules concerning evidence gained by torture.

The prosecution took two years to present its case in the first part of the trial, where they covered the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Throughout the two-year period, the trial was being closely followed by the public of the involved former Yugoslav republics as it covered various notable events from the war and included several high-profile witnesses.

Milošević, while defending himself, read from Friedrich Naumann's book Mitteleuropa, claiming it was a long-standing objective of German foreign policy and the German liberal party in particular to "erase Serbia from the map", citing a number of alleged wrongdoings by Germany against Serbia during the last hundred years, including the recognition of Croatia and other countries. He pointed out that Klaus Kinkel, the German Foreign Minister who proposed the creation of the tribunal, was a German liberal.[citation needed]

During the prosecution case, 295 witnesses testified and 5,000 exhibits were presented to the court recording a mass of evidence[citation needed]. After the presentation of the prosecution case, the Trial Chamber, on 16 June 2004, rejected a defense motion to dismiss the charges for lack of evidence and ruled in accordance with Rule 98bis, that the prosecution case contains evidence capable of supporting a conviction on all 66 counts. The Defense was given the same amount of time as the prosecution to present its case. There were in total 466 hearing days, four hours per day. 40 hours were left in the Defense case, and the trial was on schedule to end by the end of the spring.

Death of Milošević[edit]

Milošević was found dead in his cell on 11 March 2006, in the UN war crimes tribunal's detention center, located in the Scheveningen section of The Hague, Netherlands.[5]

Autopsies soon established that Milošević had died of a heart attack. He had been suffering from heart problems and high blood pressure. Many suspicions were voiced to the effect that the heart attack had been caused or made possible deliberately – by the ICTY, according to sympathizers, or by himself, according to critics.

Milošević death occurred shortly after the Tribunal denied his request to seek specialized medical treatment at a cardiology clinic in Russia.[6][7]

ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte delivered her public statement following Milošević's death:

In the indictment which was judicially confirmed in 2001, Milošević was accused of 66 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo between 1991 and 1999. These crimes affected hundreds of thousands of victims throughout the former Yugoslavia.

Due to Milošević's death during the trial, the court returned no verdict on the charges.

On 24 March 2016, the ICTY issued its judgement in the separate case against former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić, in which it concluded that insufficient evidence had been presented in that case to find that Slobodan Milosevic "agreed with the common plan" to create territories ethnically cleansed of non-Serbs during the Bosnian War of 1992 to 1995. The judgement noted "Milošević's repeated criticism and disapproval of the policies and decisions made by [Karadžić] and the Bosnian Serb leadership" and, in a footnote, the "apparent discord between [Karadžić] and Milošević" during which Milošević "openly criticised Bosnian Serb leaders of committing 'crimes against humanity' and 'ethnic cleansing' and the war for their own purposes." Nevertheless, the court also noted that "Milošević provided assistance in the form of personnel, provisions, and arms to the Bosnian Serbs during the conflict". [8]

Legacy[edit]

  • Slobodan Milosevic – Glosses at a trial, a two-part documentary
  • Milosevic on Trial, a 2007 Danish documentary

Sources[edit]

References[edit]