Lawyers oppose forced Milosevic defense

Aug. 17, 2004 at 8:00 PM
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UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- A group of lawyers Tuesday said they have asked a U.N. tribunal not to impose defense counsel on former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who signed a "friends of the court" petition, told reporters at U.N. World Headquarters in New York if the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, sitting in The Hague, forces Milosevic to accept defense counsel rather than represent himself, it would jeopardize his case and health.

The petition says Milosevic -- charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and other war crimes -- has the right to prepare his own case "even if he knowingly risks his own health in the process."

The attorneys also said medical experts should examine the former Yugoslav leader to determine if he is fit enough to stand trial at all, and, if so, whether his health can stand having to give evidence for possibly weeks at a time.

The trial is to resume Aug. 31.

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