Letter to the UN Security Council Members and to the Hague Tribunal

Yesterday, the following Letter was sent to the UN Security Council Members and to the President and the Appeals Chamber of the Hague Tribunal:

We are dismayed and deeply distressed at the cavalier and dilatory dismissal by the ICTY Trial Chamber of former President Slobodan Miloševic´s request that, as recommended by the internationally respected Bakoulev Center for Cardiovascular Surgery in Moscow, he be transferred there for further testing and possible treatment for a life threatening cardiovascular condition. Based on medical examinations of President Miloševic by three doctors on November 4, 2005, including Dr. M.V. Shumilina, an angiologist from the Bakoulev Center, Dr. L.A. Bockeria, Director and Chairman of the Bakoulev Center found President Miloševic condition to be "critical". The Trial Chamber received these medical evaluations on November 15, 2005.

Most dismaying and distressing is the total failure of the Trial Chamber to address and acknowledge the medical condition of President Miloševic and order needed testing and medical treatment as is the right of every prisoner. International law-and in particular, the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights-- prescribes, and the ICTY´s own Rules of detention guarantee, the rights of prisoners to be " treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person". Throughout the course of legal proceedings, accused are presumed innocent, and those deprived of their liberty are to be treated in a manner "appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons". President Miloševic remains untreated in the face of Dr. Shumilina´s conclusion that his medical treatment at the United Nations Detention Unit is "inadequate". Incredibly, despite his history of heart problems and high blood pressure, no vascular diagnoses had been made before November 4, 2004. Yet President Miloševic´s health has been a major concern in the proceedings for the past three years. The stress of the proceedings, the inadequate medical care and the prison conditions have severely worsened his prior health problems endangering his life.

The Trial Chamber has taken no action to protect the life of a prisoner whose physical condition has been found to be critical. Instead it has trivialized its duty to assure adequate and necessary medical care for a person being tried before it. Detainees who require special treatment, as does President Miloševic, must be transferred to specialized institutions for that treatment, as set out by the. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.

The Trial Chamber astonishingly proclaims:

  1. "That neither Dr. Shumilina nor Dr. Bockeria states that the Bakoulev Center is the only possible location for appropriate diagnosis and treatment of the accused´s condition." What conceit could lead them to such a boast? They doubtless believe their Center is the best and such a conclusion is justified. No confidence can be placed in the medical choices of the Court authorities after their years of neglect and selection in December 2005 of Dr. Aarts, a Dutch neurological radiologist, who found no pathological condition in President Miloševic and made no recommendations for treatment.

  2. That it "...accepts the submission of the Prosecution that if the Accused wishes to be treated by specialists who are not from the Netherlands, such physicians may come here to treat him." Rich and famous people travel from all parts of the world to leading medical centers like Bakoulev, often when their very travel is a risk. No one believes the same quality service could be provided by roving medical teams of the world´s best doctors and if it could be, the number of patients they serve would be drastically reduced.

Both propositions are absurd in a proceeding where life and fundamental rights are at stake. And how does the panel explain its authorizing Pavle Strugar to be repeatedly released to travel to Montenegro, an entity which is not a UN member, for hip replacement surgery, a relatively safe, simple and a minor procedure? Prosecutor v. Pavle Strugar, IT-01-42-A, 3 December 2001, 16 December 2005.

The final conclusion of the Trial Chamber proclaims that it is "not satisfied ... that it is more likely than not that the Accused, if released, would return for the continuation of his trial". Why it has more trust in the government of Montenegro or interim administration of Kosovo than the Russian Federation, which has given its word to return President Miloševic, is not explained, but the insult to a permanent member of the Security Council is inescapable.

The Trial Chamber´s reliance in denying President Miloševic needed medical care, on the proceedings being in "its latter stages ... at the end of which ... he may face the possibility of life imprisonment" is irrational at best. Does it mean under such circumstances, a prisoner may just have to die? Is it too late for urgently needed medical treatment? Does it mean "the possibility of life imprisonment is greater in the latter stages of a trial than in the beginning? Then it is commenting on the weight of the evidence which it will judge. Would a defendant who believes he would be convicted and sentenced to life in prison wait until the latter stages of proceedings to seek a means of escape? Would an impartial Court obligated to hear all the evidence before reaching a decision believe in the latter stages of a trial it was hearing that the defendant was more likely to flee then than he was at the beginning, unless the Court believed the evidence supported a severe sentence? Has the Court revealed its bias by its bizarre reliance on a presumed fear of a life sentence by the accused in the latter stages of these proceedings?

The decision of the Trial Chamber is unsupportable in fact and in law. It exposes the Court´s strategy of feeble excuses to support its prejudice and reveals its own failures to protect the health of this prisoner.

The decision is so unreasonable and plainly unjust as to demonstrate the appearance and the fact of judicial prejudice.

The Court has determined that President Miloševic must face the possibility of death because it sees the possibility of a life sentence as the cause for his seeking emergency medical care.

The decision alone, affirmed by the Appeals Chamber, will do great injury to the ICTY and international humanitarian law. The death, or serious impairment of President Miloševic for want of medical care will impose the same sentence on the ICTY and international law as a means to peace.

We urge you to reverse the Trial Chamber´s decision and order the immediate transfer of President Miloševic to the Bakoulev Center for testing and treatment under the conditions proposed.

(Ending for the Security Council)

We urge you to direct the ICTY to order the immediate transfer of President Miloševic to the Bakoulev Center for testing and treatment under the conditions proposed.

Respectfully submitted,

Ramsey Clark, Former US Attorney General, USA ¤ Professor Velko Valkanov, doctor of law, President of the Bulgarian Committee for Human Rights, former MP, Bulgaria ¤ Professor Alexander Zinoviev, philosopher, writer, Russian Federation ¤ Professor Sergei Baburin, doctor of law, Vice-Chairman of the State Duma of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Russian Federation ¤ JUDr Vojtech Filip, Vice-Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic ¤ Thanassis Pafilis, Meber of the European Parliament, General Secretary of the World Peace Council, Greece ¤ Tiphaine Dickson, international criminal lawyer, Quebec ¤ Professor Aldo Bernardini, doctor of international law, Italy ¤ Christopher Black, international criminal lawyer, Canada ¤ Klaus Hartmann, Vice-Chairman of the World Union of Freethinkers, Germany

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