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War crimes court charges Milosevic

Milosevic
Milosevic did not have legal counsel, and declined to enter a plea  


THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CNN) -- Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has appeared before the U.N. war crimes tribunal to be formally charged with crimes against humanity.

Milosevic -- the first head of state to face trial in The Hague -- did not have legal representation, having said he did not recognise the authority of the tribunal.

He told the tribunal: "I consider this tribunal false and the indictment false. It is illegal so I have no need to appoint counsel."

At his first appearance before the tribunal on Tuesday, not guilty pleas were entered on Milosevic's behalf by the court after he refused to enter one himself.

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Slobodan Milosevic appears in court  
 
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Slobodan Milosevic appears in court. (July 3)

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Opening of the tribunal
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Milosevic: "False, illegitimate tribunal"
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CNN's Christiane Amanpour: "This was vintage Milosevic"
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He faces charges of crimes against humanity stemming from the Yugoslav campaign against ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo.

The case was adjourned until August 27 but the trial was not expected to begin hearing evidence until next year.

Presiding judge Richard May told Milosevic he could re-consider his decision not to appoint counsel as the proceedings were expected to be "long and complex."

When Milosevic was asked if he wanted the indictments read out he replied: "That's your problem."

His response was regarded as a waiver of his rights by the court and the indictments were not read out.

Milosevic also refused to enter a plea, saying: "This trial aims to produce false justification for war crimes of NATO committed in Yugoslavia."

CNN's Christiane Amanpour said Milosevic appeared in court with "his jaw jutted forward, he looked defiant, and he kept looking at the public gallery."

Throughout the hearing, Milosevic tried to make speeches, both in English and his native language, but the judge cut him off politely, saying this was not the time for speeches.

Amanpour said Milosevic regards himself as a hero and NATO as the villains with the U.N. tribunal an arm of NATO.

Milosevic believes he was transferred illegally to The Hague and that he was essentially kidnapped from his homeland.

He is accused of crimes against humanity for actions carried out by the Yugoslav Army and Serbian security forces in Kosovo in 1999, including murder, deportation and prosecution of people on political, racial and ethnic grounds. He faces life in prison if convicted of any of the four charges.

Milosevic's advisors have said he feels he was acting in the best interests of his country.

Since his extradition last Thursday, Milosevic has spoken to his wife three times during what were described as seven-minute conversations.

Milosevic's allies in Belgrade say that the former president, who was forced from power in October, believes he is being persecuted because he stood up to NATO, refusing to sign a power-sharing deal with Kosovo Albanians in 1999.

Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic Albanians triggered a 78-day NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, which ended with the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo and the handing over of the Serbian province to the United Nations and NATO.

In Belgrade up to 15,000 supporters gathered last night to protest against his transfer outside the federal government buildings.

Ignoring a ban on the gathering the participants, mainly members of Milosevic's Socialist Party and the ultra-nationalist Radical Party listened to speeches and nationalist songs.





RELATED STORIES:
RELATED SITES:
• International Criminal tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
• Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
• World Bank Group: Yugoslavia
• European Union
• International Monetary Fund

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