Written by: Andy Wilcoxson

Yesterday the trial chamber of The Hague Tribunal denied Slobodan Milosevic’s application for an extension of the time allotted for his defense case. The trial chamber held the view that Milosevic did not make efficient use of his time because he did not submit the testimony of his defense witnesses in writing pursuant to Rules 89(F) and 92 bis.

The trial chamber’s ruling asserted that: “The Accused has sufficient resources to make use of written testimony. The fact is that he has made no effort to do so. His submissions are not that he would like to present evidence in writing […] on the contrary, he relies on the misguided view of what is required for a trial to be public. Evidence presented in writing, subject to public scrutiny, is no less public than viva voce evidence.”

Article 21 of the tribunal’s statute guarantees that “the accused shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing” and shall be entitled “to be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person.”

In view of his right to a public trial, Milosevic’s position is that all of the evidence presented in the trial should be accessible to the public. Contrary to the trial chamber’s assertion, evidence presented in writing is not subject to public scrutiny. The tribunal does not have proper facilities to make such material accessible to the public.

The de facto position is that Tribunal’s archives are closed to the public. Obtaining a document from the tribunal is almost impossible. Anybody who doubts what I’m saying can try asking the tribunal for a copy of one of the defense exhibits – I can almost guarantee that you’ll never get it.

In reality, the only way for Milosevic’s right to a public trial to be realized is for all of his witnesses to testify viva voce. The fact that Milosevic wants to exercise his right to a public trial can not rightfully be used by the tribunal as an excuse to limit the amount of evidence he can call.

In its ruling the Trial Chamber provided the following statistics:

Total number of Prosecution witnesses: 352; Total number of viva voce witnesses: 114 (32.4%); Total number of Rule 92bis witnesses: 189 (53.7%) [With Cross-examination: 135 (38.4%); Without Cross-examination: 54 (15.3%)]; Total number of Rule 94bis witnesses: 20 (5.7%); Total number of Rule 89(F) witnesses: 26 (7.4%); Total number of Rules 92bis/89(F) witnesses: 3 (0.9%)

Not even the tribunal’s most ardent supporters could seriously argue that the trial was fair if Milosevic is not permitted to call at least the same number of witnesses as the prosecution.

On top of the 352 prosecution witnesses, there are 930 prosecution exhibits totaling more than 85,000 pages. There is no way that Milosevic, or anybody else, could possibly address such a massive volume of material in the 360 hours allotted by the tribunal for the defense case. In order to complete the defense case in 360 hours, Milosevic would not be able to spend more than 12 minutes responding to each of the exhibits and/or witnesses produced the prosecution.

To properly address such a vast quantity of material, Milosevic would have to spend several more years presenting his defense case. Expecting Milosevic to complete the defense case in 360 hours is as unreasonable as expecting a surgeon to perform open-heart surgery in 5 minutes.

If the tribunal refuses to grant Milosevic more time, and then turns around and convicts him, then they’ll look like fools. How could anybody possibly say that a trial was fair if an accused is not given adequate time to present his evidence and rebut the charges against him? How can a guilty verdict stand-up to even the most minor scrutiny if the accused in the case is prevented from calling evidence that can exonerate him simply because the Judges say the clock ran out?

On top of the trial chamber's fallacious reasoning that 360 hours for the defense and 360 hours for the prosecution automatically equals to a fair trial. The ruling on the severance of the Kosovo indictment has clearly exposed the political nature of the Tribunal. The trial chamber’s ruling reads: “In light of the foregoing decision [not to extend the time allotted for the defense case], which should lead to the conclusion of the trial within the anticipated time scale, the Trial Chamber does not consider it appropriate to sever the Kosovo indictment.”

Bear in mind that it was the trial chamber’s idea to sever the Kosovo indictment and render an early judgment in the first place. The defense and the prosecution have both consistently opposed severing the indictment.

When the trial chamber first hatched the scheme to sever the Kosovo Indictment a couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article accusing the tribunal of wanting to render an early verdict on Kosovo in order give political ammunition to those advocating independence during the negotiations on Kosovo’s final status. [See: ]

Severing the indictment would have allowed the tribunal to render an early verdict on the Kosovo part of indictment, without putting them in such an absurd position in relation to the Bosnia and Croatia indictments. Politics dictate that Milosevic be convicted for Bosnia and Croatia, but a conviction will not appear legitimate unless Milosevic is given the opportunity to call evidence to refute the charges against him.

Clearly, if Milosevic had gone along with the severance of the Kosovo indictment, then the tribunal would have granted him more time to defend himself against the Bosnia and Croatia indictments. Otherwise they never would have brought the issue up. As this latest ruling makes clear, the trial is going to end soon enough without extending the time so why would the trial chamber bother severing the indictment without extending the time?

Politics dictate that Milosevic be convicted over Kosovo -- and soon. NATO can not keep the Kosovo-Albanians at bay much longer. The Kosovo-Albanians are armed to the teeth and they aren’t afraid to use violence against NATO and UN personnel in the pursuit of Kosovo independence.

NATO occupies Kosovo based on the lie that it’s protecting the Kosovo-Albanians. It would look really bad politically if the Kosovo-Albanians launched a war against NATO.

Politically, NATO’s only option is to give the Kosovo-Albanians what they want. Legally, NATO can not make Kosovo independent. UN Security Counsel Resolution 1244, which ended the Kosovo war, guarantees Serbia’s territorial integrity and envisions the return of Serbian police and military forces to the province.

By convicting Milosevic for crimes in Kosovo the Tribunal hopes to provide NATO and the Kosovo-Albanians with the political justification to violate Resolution 1244 and change Serbia’s borders without Serbia’s consent.

The tribunal’s only problem is that Kwon, Bonomy, and Robinson got caught with their dicks in the wind on this one. It's obvious that they would have granted Milosevic extra time to address the Bosnia and Croatia indictments if he had agreed to accept the severance of the Kosovo indictment – otherwise they never would have brought the issue of severance up to begin with.

Because Milosevic refused to accept the severance of the Kosovo indictment, the tribunal has been forced into a position where it must render a premature judgment on all of the indictments in time to serve NATO’s political needs in Kosovo.

Milosevic is a political genius. He has outwitted the tribunal yet again and exposed Kwon, Bonamy, and Robinson as the NATO lackeys they are. The decision on the severance of the Kosovo indictment can not be explained by any terms other than politics. By forcing the tribunal to make this ruling, Milosevic has proven beyond any doubt that politics is the primary concern of the Hague Tribunal.

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