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Wednesday, 13 February, 2002, 17:36 GMT
Transcript: Milosevic addresses court
Slobodan Milosevic
Slobodan Milosevic was again defiant in court
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has spoken for the first time at his trial at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

He again challenged the legality of the tribunal, and questioned the legitimacy of his arrest in Belgrade last year, which he said violated the Yugoslav and Serbian constitutions.

He also complained that the prosecution was biased because the chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte had already proclaimed judgement against him.

[This transcript is taken from a simultaneous translation of Mr Milosevic's statement to the court, made in Serbian.]

Presiding Judge Richard May:
You may sit or stand to address the court whichever you prefer.

Slobodan Milosevic:
Do you stop work this afternoon at four o'clock?

Judge May:
We stop at four, so if you'd like to make a start now, we'll adjourn then and you can go on tomorrow.

Slobodan Milosevic:
I don't think there's any sense in me starting and being interrupted half an hour later. I have spent two days listening to the speeches made by the prosecution.

Judge May:
Are you asking to start tomorrow morning - is that what you want?

Slobodan Milosevic:
You explained to me last time when we were here, when we attended a status conference here, that I would have the right to speak and as far as I was able to gather now, you are giving me that right.

However, I consider that it would be logical for me to begin without having to be interrupted less than half an hour hence. But I would like to take advantage of this opportunity nonetheless.

Judge May:
Very well, you can address us tomorrow. But what is it you'd like to add?

Slobodan Milosevic:
I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity before I begin speaking and delivering my speech to say that as you know several times here I have bought some legal aspects - I won't be mentioning those in my speech proper but I have received no response or answer from you.

I challenge the very legality of this tribunal because it was not set up on the basis of the law

Slobodan Milosevic
You know full well that all international and national documents and rules and regulations determine the fact that a court can be there to judge only if it has been established on the basis of law and I have broached the question of the legality of this tribunal. You did not provide me with a response.

You delved into the question and looked into the aspects of court authority although the competencies of the court are not the same thing as the court's legality and I challenged the very legality of this tribunal because it was not set up on the basis of the law.

The Security Council could not transfer the right that it does not have to this tribunal and, therefore, this tribunal does not have the competence to try.

I expect this tribunal, or rather you, to respond to those legal facts and I had expected as one of the amici curia [literally "friends of the court" and Mr Milosevic's legal representation], and suggested that you seek the advice of the International Court of Justice, which you failed to do.

I consider that this is a question of prime importance. It is of principled importance, both for international law and for justice in general and that it will have to be resolved. I think that I have sufficiently expounded and explained the issue when I sent you a lengthy text with all the points that set out my arguments and I also did so orally here.

Your views about the tribunal are now completely irrelevant as far as these proceedings are concerned

Presiding Judge Richard May
The second point that I wish to raise and wish to clarify is that at the status conference that was held here I raised the question of my illegal arrest and the representative of the tribunal had a part in that.

It took place in Belgrade. It violated the constitution of Serbia and the constitution of Yugoslavia and the Federal Government tabled its resignation because of that and criminal law suits have been the result in Yugoslavia - they've been filed and on the other hand I do know that every court is duty bound to deal with the habeas corpus question before the start of trials.

You failed to take that into account nor did you schedule a hearing with that respect and which rule you were duty bound to do based on the rules and regulations.

Those questions are regulated by all human rights and political rights declarations - universal ones and European, American and others - and you as men of the law are well acquainted with that and through your own practice as well, you have become acquainted with that because you have been discussing the question of unlawful arrest in other cases.

So this has been a great omission on your part. You were duty bound to call a hearing with respect to the unlawful arrest that took place over my person and with respect to the fact that I was brought here on the basis of a crime having been committed. A crime which is not only treated in the laws of my own country but it is an issue treated in the laws of all states and is present in all international conventions and so on and so forth.

Furthermore, I also wish to question [something] which you too did not wish to resolve and I put forth many arguments to clear up my point. I said that we cannot speak of a fair trial and an equitable trial here especially an unbiased stand on the part of the prosecution.

Your prosecutor has proclaimed my sentence and judgement and the prosecution has orchestrated a media campaign that has been waged and organised. It is a parallel trial through the media

Slobodan Milosevic
You know that in 1990 the United Nations Congress adopted its own set of instructions with respect to prosecution and the prosecutor. Those were general guidelines demanding that there must be no prejudice and that there must be impartiality.

From everything that we have heard here so far, we have become more than convinced that not only is it partial but your prosecutor has proclaimed my sentence and judgement and the prosecution has orchestrated a media campaign that has been waged and organised. It is a parallel trial through the media which along with this unlawful tribunal are there to play the role of a parallel lynch process. Which, in advance without any insight...

Judge May:
I'm going to interrupt you. What do you mean by saying that the prosecutor has proclaimed your sentence and judgement?

Slobodan Milosevic:
In public and the previous prosecutor at a meeting with Albright said - they both said - that they were engaged in the same business or job and the indictment itself was raised on the basis of the constructions of the British intelligence service during the war against Yugoslavia and we know full well that intelligence services only give out selective information and details - those that they are able to rig and not those which are not to their advantage and so on and so forth.

There are many arguments that could be raised here but at all events I should like to indicate to you that you did not discuss these matters nor did you make a decision of any kind. You did not call upon the International Court of Justice as to the illegalities of the issue and you did not schedule a hearing which you were duty bound to do on the basis of habeas corpus and on the basis of the fact that your representative took part in the...

Judge May:
Mr Milosevic you indicated earlier that you wanted to make your submissions tomorrow - that's apparently not the case because you wanted to address us today.

But the matters on which you are choosing to address us are matters upon which we have already ruled. As you would know, if you'd taken the trouble to read our decisions. You had the right of appeal - you did not take it.

The matters, therefore, have all been dealt with and your views about the tribunal are now completely irrelevant as far as these proceedings are concerned. All the matters you raised, you've argued before and we have ruled upon and there is no need for them to be raised again in these proceedings. We will hear the rest of your arguments and submissions tomorrow morning.

[Judge then continues on procedural matters].

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