Milosevic faces the music

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 September, 2003, 12:00am

The chief bogeyman in the Kosovo conflict, Slobodan Milosevic, is charged with crimes against humanity and genocide in the biggest war tribunal since Nuremberg. Milosevic is the first former head of state to face such charges.

Since the trial began in the Hague, the Netherlands, in 2001, he has refused to recognise the authority of the tribunal. 'Why do I have to defend myself in front of a false tribunal from false indictments?' he said. Milosevic is representing himself but receiving advice from lawyers, including former US Attorney-General Ramsey Clark and Frenchman Jacques Verges, who has defended the Nazi Klaus Barbie and Palestinian terrorists. The Economist has accused Milosevic of trying to turn his trial into a circus. He seems to be enjoying himself, routinely castigating prosecution witnesses with gusto and hurling objections at the judges.

At the same time, the deposed dictator who led Serbia to bankruptcy is living in the kind of conditions many of his compatriots would envy in a detention centre in the Dutch town of Scheveningen, a suburb of the Hague beside the North Sea.

According to Time magazine, he has his own shower and toilet, a radio and satellite TV. He can exercise in the prison gym, study in the library or pray in the religion room.