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Europe

UN Tribunal: Punishing War Crimes

The former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic will appear before the UN War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague for the second time on Thursday.

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Going through the motions

Thursday’s hearing at the War Crimes Tribunal is the first in a series of routine pre-trial meetings. But the former Yugoslav president could spring surprises. “Milosevic is going to be in court so anything can happen” said Graham Blewitt, deputy to UN chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte. “As far as the prosecution themselves are concerned, though, there is nothing particular about it”.

Milosevic still refuses to appoint a defence counsel. This is unprecedented at the eight-year-old court. He also refuses to plead on charges of crimes against humanity. The ex leader remains defiant, claiming the tribunal had no jurisdiction over him and that he should be released immediately.

Challenging the tribunal’s legitimacy is the former president’s last ditch attempt to escape prosecution. The UN tribunal, the first since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials set up in the aftermath of the Second World War was established by the UN Security Council in May 1993. All UN members are obliged to co-operate with it and surrender people ordered to stand trial.

Earlier this month the War Crimes Tribunal made legal history when it jailed former Bosnian Serb general Radislav Krstic for 46 years. It was the first time it handed down its toughest penalty, having established that Krstic was guilty of genocide.