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Milosevic opens genocide defense

Aug. 31, 2004 at 7:32 AM   |   Comments

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic personally opened his genocide defense at The Hague Tuesday, calling his charges "unscrupulous lies."

Milosevic faces 66 charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for his alleged role in the conflicts in which tens of thousands were killed in the Balkans, beginning in 1991.

While his trial began in February 2002, it has been delayed numerous times because of his health, particularly his high blood pressure, the BBC reported.

"The accusations against me are unscrupulous lies and a treacherous distortion of history," said Milosevic, himself a lawyer. He went on to complain he had been given only four hours for his initial speech while prosecutors were given three days to outline their case when the trial began.

After his speech, the three trial judges were to consider whether to assign a lawyer to him.

Milosevic wants to call more than 1,600 witnesses in the 150 days allotted to his defense, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

© 2004 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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