Slobodan Milosevic Trial: Medical Arguments as a Pretext for an Expeditious guilty Verdict?
"junge Welt" spoke with Klaus Hartmann, Chairman of the German Freethinker Association and vice president of the International Committee for Defending Slobodan Milosevic
Q: Arguing that it has problems with its schedule, the Hague Tribunal decreed, that former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, will no longer be allowed to conduct his own defence. Do the judges now want to seek an expeditious guilty verdict?
The tribunal wants to allot Milosevic only 150 days to present his defence case, which, in comparison to the almost 300 days for the prosecution´s case, indeed leads one to think, of an expeditious guilty verdict. This is a clear violation of the internationally recognised legal principle of equality of means between the prosecution and the defence. Another fundamental right of the accused is violated by assigning him legal counsel, against his will. The right to defend oneself is such; that not even the Nazis questioned it during the Reichstag´s fire trial against Georgi Dimitroff. Neither did the South African Apartheid racists, in their trial against Nelson Mandela.
Q: Doesn´t this decision also violate even the regulations of the tribunal itself?
Absolutely. The "rules of procedure" established by the tribunal, itself, provide for the undeniable right of the accused to assume his own defence. The precedents of exception, cited by the prosecution, refer to cases where the accused was not in a position to be able to understand the proceedings taking place. Here we have the opposite situation: the defendant dwarfs with his intelligence the intelligence of the judges on the bench and the prosecution.
Q: But aren´t the medical arguments to be taken seriously?
They are pretexts. For three years, nobody cared about the health of Milosevic. Only now, as he is about to call his own witnesses, the concern for his health is taken as pretext to deprive him of his fundamental rights. Milosevic, himself, said that this is the panic reaction of the prosecution, because they will now soon have to hear the truth out of the witnesses´ mouths.
Q: You were recently present at the trial in The Hague. What impression did Milosevic make on you?
His morale as a fighter is undaunted - which may have been the reason why the tribunal and the prosecution decided to resort to these illegal measures. Milosevic, himself, said that he has the privilege of having the most important ally on his side: the truth. And that is exactly what the representatives of this criminal enterprise fear most.
This was indirectly confirmed by the prosecution: "If Milosevic defends himself," they said, "there is the risk that he, himself, will prepare his witnesses." This is an attempt at outright political censorship, such as one would have expected in the Nazi "Volksgerichtshof" under Roland Freisler.
The prosecutor also referred to Milosevic describing the tribunal as illegal. "It would be unacceptable," he said, "if Milosevic calls his witnesses, telling them, ´and now please tell this illegal body what you know.´"
Questions: Peter Wolter
junge Welt vom 3. September 2004