Statement of Slobodan Milosevic Freedom Center The Hague - April 19, 2005


Today the Hague Tribunal executed a new strategy in their ongoing effort to prevent Slobodan Milosevic from conducting his own defense: Trial in Absentia.


As they tried at the beginning of his defense, they misused his health condition to allow Mr. Kay, a lawyer representing the ICTY, take over his defense.


Today, after a medical examination showed that Milosevic had high blood pressure, the Registry refused to allow him to appear in court. Subsequently, Mr. Kay came to court with a dramatic statement suggesting that Mr. Milosevic’s condition was so bad that one should fear that he would never recover.


Being in contact with President Milosevic we can say that Mr. Kay's statement is a shameless violation of the truth. It is true that Milosevic has high blood pressure, which has been made worse by the conditions the ICTY imposes on him. But he is perfectly fit to continue the conduct of his defense.


President Milosevic wanted to come to court and present his defense today, but the Tribunal’s Registry would not to let him appear. They decided that his blood pressure was too high for him to attend, and Mr. Kay’s courtroom antics led the public to believe that Milosevic could be at death’s very door.


The viciousness of the so-called “court” was seen in how they treated witness Kosta Bulatovic. When Mr. Bulatovic refused to continue his testimony in the absence of President Milosevic, the tribunal threatened him with contempt charges.


Judge Bonomy even went so far as to accuse Mr. Bulatovic of being “irrational” for refusing to participate in what would have essentially been a trial in absentia.


Mr. Bulatovic showed great character and did not bow to the tribunal’s threats. In spite of the threats and insults being leveled against him from the prosecution and from the bench, Mr. Bulatovic stood firm in his resolve.


Mr. Kosta Bulatovic’s behavior was not contemptuous in the least. He was respectful towards the tribunal, even though they were not respectful towards him. He calmly and rationally explained that he had agreed to testify and give evidence in the presence of the accused President Milosevic. He did not refuse to testify, he made it clear that he was willing to continue his testimony when President Milosevic is present in the courtroom. He only refused to participate if the trial were to be held in absentia.


The sequence of events makes things very clear:


  1. The ICTY’s doctors examine Milosevic and determine that he has high blood pressure.


  1. The ICTY’s Registry prohibits Milosevic from going to go to court on the excuse that his blood pressure is too high, even though he wants to attend court.


  1. Mr. Kay comes to court with dramatic statements, claiming that Milosevic is so ill that he might never recover, or be able to lead his defense again.


  1. In a glaring violation of the ICTY’s own procedure and established jurisprudence, the trial chamber rules that the trial can proceed without the presence of an accused, thus turning the proceedings into a trial in absentia.


  1. The trial chamber threatens the defense witness with contempt charges if he does not participate in what has become, in the middle of his testimony, a trial in absentia.


The timing of this maneuver is not accidental. In early May Mr. Kay has to appear before the disciplinary board of the Dutch bar association, because Milosevic has filed a complaint against him for acting as his lawyer against his will.


From the moment President Milosevic filed the complaint, all sorts of maneuvers have been executed behind the scenes to prevent the disciplinary board from accepting the case; not only by the ICTY, but also by the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs.


That by itself is a clear sign we are not dealing with a normal court, but with political machinery that has direct influence over sovereign Dutch institutions. This is not the first time that we have witnessed this. From the moment Milosevic was brought to The Hague, the Dutch Foreign Ministry was acting under the de facto control of the ICTY, even submitting themselves to the approval of the tribunal before granting visas to Milosevic’s Yugoslav lawyers.


Despite their many maneuvers, the disciplinary board has set the case for early May. Mr. Kay and the ICTY are fully aware that President Milosevic has a strong case against Kay. No doubt today’s action is an act of desperation and impotence to try and control the events. From the very start this so-called “trial” has been a farce, and the more they do to safe their face, the more they sink in their political swamp.


The Hague, 19 April 2005.    
Issued by the Main Board of the Slobodan Milosevic Freedom Center The Hague


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