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Milosevic Appears Before War Crimes Tribunal

July 3, 2001 at 12:00 AM EDT

TRANSCRIPT

JUDGE RICHARD MAY: This is the initial appearance of the accused in this case upon his transfer to the tribunal. The hearing is to be conducted in accordance with the rules and procedure and evidence of the tribunal, rule 62.

Mr. Milosevic, I see that you’re not represented by counsel today. We understand that this is at your own choice. You do have the right, of course, to defend yourself. You also have a right to counsel and you should consider carefully whether it’s in your own best interest not to be represented.

These proceedings will be long and complex and you may wish to reconsider the position. In these circumstances, if you wish to have time to reconsider whether you want to have counsel, we would be prepared to give it to you. Do you want some time to consider now whether you wish to be represented?

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC (in English): I consider this tribunal false tribunal and indictments false indictments. It is illegal, being not appointed by U.N. General Assembly. So I have no need to appoint counsel to illegal organ.

JUDGE RICHARD MAY: Mr. Milosevic, in due course you will have the chance to put in motions challenging the jurisdiction or any other preliminary matters which you wish to do. But we take it you wish to proceed today without counsel, although it’s a matter you may wish to reconsider in due course.

This initial appearance is simply to deal with these matters: First of all the indictment itself; and secondly, if you wish, to enter your pleas of guilty or not guilty to it. The first matter is the indictment. As you know, you have the right to have the indictment read out to you now, in court, before you plead to it. This is a right you may also waive. Now, do you want to have the indictment read out, or not?

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC: That’s your problem.

JUDGE RICHARD MAY: Mr. Milosevic, you are now before this tribunal and you’re within the jurisdiction of it. You will be tried by the tribunal. You will be accorded the full rights of the accused, according to international law, and the full protections of international law and the statue.

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC: Mr. President …

JUDGE RICHARD MAY: The trial chamber will treat your response as a waiver of your right to have the indictment read out.

The next part of the procedure is to move towards having that indictment put to you. Mr. Milosevic, you may, if you wish, have time to consider your plea. The rule allows you up to 30 days to do so. If you don’t understand the matters to which you have to plead or you wish to consult counsel before entering a plea. On the other hand, you may enter a plea today.

Do you want to enter pleas today or are you asking for an adjournment to consider the matter further?

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC (in Serbo-Croatian): This trial’s aim is to produce false justification for the war crimes of NATO committed in Yugoslavia.

JUDGE RICHARD MAY: Mr. Milosevic, I asked you a question: Do you want to enter your plea today, or are you asking for adjournment to consider the matter further?

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC: I have given you my answer. Furthermore, this so called tribunal …

JUDGE RICHARD MAY: The rules state that if an accused fail to enter a plea then the trial chamber will enter a plea of not guilty on his behalf. Mr. Milosevic, we treat your response as a failure to enter a plea and we shall enter pleas of not guilty on each count on your behalf.

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC: As I have said, the aim of this tribunal is to justify the crimes committed in Yugoslavia. That is why this a false tribunal, and illegitimate …

JUDGE RICHARD MAY: Mr. Milosevic, this is not the time for speeches. As I have said, you will have the full opportunity, in due course, to defend yourself and to make your defense before the tribunal. This is not the moment to do so.

This matter is now adjourned.

The next hearing will be a status conference which will take place in the week commencing the 27th of August unless the trial chamber orders an earlier hearing. The matter is now adjourned.