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Milosevic scores trial victory

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic has struck his first victory in his war crimes tribunal after judges refused to hear evidence from a key prosecution witness.

Judge Richard May said the evidence from Kevin Curtis concerning alleged war crimes against Kosovo Albanians by Serb forces was inadmissible because it was based on hearsay.

Curtis is a prosecution investigator who was sent to Kosovo to collect accounts of atrocities.

But in a separate move Milosevic suffered a personal setback after his wife Mira Markovic was denied a visa to visit him this weekend.

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Markovic has visited her husband regularly at the detention centre in The Hague on short-term visas since last July, including his 60th birthday last August.

Milosevic asked the three judges of the U.N. tribunal to intervene with prison authorities and the Dutch government to allow Markovic into the country.

"I consider this to be part of my physical mistreatment," he said.

The Dutch foreign ministry, which issues the visas, told Reuters that the application had been made too late for the required security measures to be put in place.

Milosevic made the request as he continued his defence against charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

He began cross-examining Mahmut Bakalli, an ethnic Albanian politician on Tuesday, attempting to discredit his evidence by linking him to the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Milosevic says the real criminals are the western powers he accuses the west of inciting civil war in Bosnia and Croatia.

Milosevic vigorously cross-examined Bakalli, former head of the Communist Party in Kosovo, Mahmut Bakalli, at the International Criminal Court for Former Yugoslavia in the Hague.

Bakalli, who took part in talks to defuse tension after clashes between Serb security forces and ethnic Albanian rebels in 1998, accused Milosevic of destroying Yugoslavia's ethnic harmony.

Milosevic challenged Bakalli's account of a Serbian campaign to impose "apartheid" on Kosovo's Albanian majority in the 1990s.

Milosevic has refused to enter pleas to charges of genocide in Bosnia's 1992-95 war and of crimes against humanity in Croatia in 1991 and in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo in 1998-99.

Milosevic, who is conducting his own defence, accused the West and NATO of backing the Kosovo Liberation Army separatist campaign, and insists assassinations and bombings by Albanian nationalists provoked the 1999 Serb crackdown.

Bakalli is the first of some 90 witnesses to be called by the prosecution.


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