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UN war crimes tribunal imposes defence lawyers on Miloševic to reduce delays

UN war crimes tribunal imposes defence lawyers on Miloševic to reduce delays

The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today imposed defence counsel on Slobodan Miloševic, the former Yugoslav president facing genocide charges, to ease his workload and reduce the chance of further delays to his already long-running trial.

The judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), sitting in The Hague, said British lawyers Steven Kay and Gillian Higgins, who have been acting as observers at the Tribunal to ensure Mr. Miloševic receives a fair trial, should be appointed to the post by the Registrar.

But the judges said that if Mr. Miloševic made "a reasonable request" to instruct his own counsel, they would consider it. Funding is also being made available if the new lawyers need extra staff.

The new counsel are scheduled to take up Mr. Miloševic's case from next Tuesday.

Presiding Judge Patrick Robinson of Jamaica said the judges decided to impose counsel because Mr. Miloševic had rejected previous suggestions to use counsel and opted to represent himself.

The trial of Mr. Miloševic has been delayed many times because of his continuing heart problems, and Tribunal-appointed doctors have said the effort of representing himself in court is harming his health.

Mr. Miloševic - who has been on trial since February 2002 - is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and other war crimes for his role in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo during the 1990s.