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The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic


The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic died at The Hague in March, 2006 only months before the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) was to reach a verdict in his four year trial. Milosevic had been charged with war-crimes for his role in the 1990s ethnic cleansing and genocide that took place during the Bosnian war in the early 1990s and the Kosovo crisis of the late 1990s. The trial was fraught with delays due to Milosevic's self-representation and bouts of "ill-health."

Following Milosevic's death many observers criticized the sheer length of his trial and the broad scope of charges filed against him. Critics stated that prosecutors had brought too many charges against Milosevic in an effort to create a historical narrative. Many of Milosevic's victims expressed anger that they had been "denied justice" by Milosevic's premature demise.

This page followed and analyzed Milosevic's trial.

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Prosecutors Seek To Learn Lessons from Milosevic Case (June 28, 2006)
The slow-paced and ultimately unsuccessful trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic leads the global community to scrutinize the ability of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia to deliver justice in a timely manner. Attributing failed attempts to capture key suspects to the lack of an ICTY police force and failures of cooperation from certain countries, Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte calls for greater ICTY authority to arrest fugitives. (Serbianna)

Milosevic Not Poisoned, UN Finds (May 30, 2006)
In a UN report, a team of Dutch doctors and prosecutors confirms that former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic died from natural causes, refuting widespread allegations of poisoning. The report suggests that authorities could not always monitor what medication Milosevic took since he enjoyed "privileges" such as a private room at the detention center to confer with his "legal associates." Although the doctors have all ruled out foul play, they disagree over whether surgery could have prevented Milosevic's death. (BBC)

Milosevic Trial: Fair, Faked or Fantasy? (May 5, 2006)
A recent conference on the Slobodan Milosevic trial sought to provide some sort of closure after the former Yugoslav president's death. Discussions focused on the overall fairness of the trial with critics, including Milosevic's counsel, referring to the heavy presence of political bias. However, proponents of The Hague tribunal at the conference argued that the court has brought about "an era of accountability". (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

Lessons from the Milosevic Trial (April 26, 2006)
The author argues Slobodan Milosevic's trial taught international criminal tribunal prosecutors to "keep it simple" and "keep it free from posturing." The testimony of witnesses must not be a "cathartic exercise" or used to document history, but to test strictly legal and factual issues. Milosevic's trial convinced Iraq Tribunal prosecutors to concentrate on a few key events and try Saddam Hussein with specific charges. (Online Opinion)

Milosevic Dies Before Trial Verdict (March 12, 2006)
Former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic died at The Hague before the International Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) reached a verdict in his trial. An ICTY spokesman stated that the four year long trial will now end. Milosevic's death in custody has raised criticism from commentators about the lengthy proceedings, while victims expressed disappointed that they have been "denied justice" by Milosevic's premature demise. (Reuters)



UN Court Faces Fairness Issue at Milosevic Trial (November 4, 2005)
Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic continues to cause problems for the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY). Though the trial has already set a longevity record for international criminal trials, Milosevic insists that he will need more than the allotted time to present his defense. ICTY officials worry that refusing Milosevic's request will reflect poorly on the tribunal's reputation for fairness. (New York Times)

A Comparison of Saddam, Milosevic Trials (October 20, 2005)
As of October 19, 2005, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein are both on trial for crimes they committed during their respective reigns. Although many are tempted to draw comparisons between the two, there are in fact many differences between the quests for justice for the former heads of government. This Associated Press article describes the distinctions.

Milosevic Defence Struggles on (July 22, 2005)
The credibility of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's witnesses seems to consistently dissolve under cross-examination and unintentionally strengthen the prosecutors' case. Furthermore, as Milosevic began winding down his shaky defense, prosecutors in The Hague asked the judge to re-open their case in view of new evidence against him in a trial that is set to prolong indefinitely. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

As Trial Drags on, Milosevic Sticks to His Story (June 14, 2005)
The Milosevic trial has set a record for longevity in international law, and its end is nowhere in sight. The former Serbian president continues to deny all war crimes charges against him, and insists that "chronic heart disease" keeps him from speeding up proceedings in a tribunal that must complete its work by 2008. (International Herald Tribune)

Milosevic Running Out of Time (April 15, 2005)
Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic has indicated that he will ask for an extension to his defense case, after using six months and 20 witnesses to rebut only one of his three indictments. Observers attribute the trial's slow pace to Milosevic's political grandstanding and contempt for court proceedings, as well as the fact that hearings take place only three days a week due to the defendant's poor health. Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice has urged the court to control Milosevic's behavior and refuse his request for an extension of time. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

Milosevic Defense Presents Evidence of Mass Murders By Serbian Forces in Kosovo (March 16, 2005)
When General Radomir Gojivic testified on behalf of Slobodan Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, he inadvertently gave evidence to show how the former president is criminally liable under the doctrine of command responsibility. Milosevic was trying to demonstrate through Gojivic, a former Yugoslav military prosecutor and judge, that the army had investigated and prosecuted its own troops for war crimes. Gojivic's testimony, however, showed that Milosevic knew about, yet failed to take action to prevent crimes committed by his subordinates. (Coalition for International Justice)

Courtside: Milosevic Trial (February 11, 2005)
As the Slobodan Milosevic trial adjourns yet again due to the former Yugoslav president's poor health, judges have calculated that Milosevic has only used fourteen sitting days out of the ninety allocated for his defense. Furthermore, his court-appointed lawyers have exhausted their last avenue of appeal in their efforts to leave the trial. Their desperation to leave is such that they have not ruled out abandoning the court and facing the consequences. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)



A Role for Assigned Counsel: Milosevic Needs Assistance (December 15, 2004)
Since the war crimes tribunal agreed to let Slobodan Milosevic represent himself, the former Yugoslav president has been considerably more compliant with court protocol. Judges warn, however, that his frequent refusal to observe the rules of evidence when handling documents only hurts his case. (Coalition for International Justice)

Court Orders Milosevic Defense Lawyers To Continue (December 7, 2004)
With Slobodan Milosevic's failing health and best interests in mind, judges in the Yugoslav war crimes trial have ordered the court-appointed defense lawyers to stay on the case despite the lawyers' withdrawal appeals and Milosevic's lack of cooperation. (Reuters)

Milosevic May Defend Himself (November 1, 2004)
In a "rare courtroom victory" for Slobodan Milosevic, judges in the war crimes trial have once again awarded the former Yugoslav president the right to defend himself. However, the judges also stipulate that Milosevic must accept a "standby lawyer" if he once again becomes too sick to defend himself. The decision comes shortly after Milosevic's lawyers appealed their own appointment. (Associated Press)

Milosevic's Lawyers Ask To Be Taken Off Case (October 28, 2004)
Slobodan Milosevic's two lawyers, frustrated with the "almost impossible" task of getting defense witnesses and the former Yugloslav leader to cooperate, have told the war crimes court that they cannot fulfill their duties. The court could reject the request, find replacements or let Milosevic lead his own defense. But new replacements would likely face the same problems as the current lawyers, and Milosevic has already proven incapable of addressing charges. (New York Times)

Milosevic Counsel Explains Appointment Appeal (October 1, 2004)
Stephen Kay released an appeal on his appointment as Slobodan Milosevic's lawyer in the former Yugoslav leader's war crimes trial. Kay says Milosevic can and has the right to defend himself in court, and that the court places priority on meeting the tribunal's time limit (2010) over fairness. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

Milosevic Lawyer Decision Explained (September 25, 2004)
Judges in the war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic issued a written statement explaining that Milosevic's court-appointed lawyers must stay in place to ensure a fair trial. The judges also want to speed up the tribunal to meet the 2010 deadline. They have postponed the proceedings several times for Milosevic's health and his refusal to cooperate with lawyers. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

Lessons from a 'Textbook' War Crimes Trial (September 19, 2004)
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic still refuses to cooperate with the court that he perceives as "an institution created to convict him" and his actions may set a precedent for future trials of leaders, such as Saddam Hussein, at the International Criminal Court. However, judges have cracked down on Milosevic's attitude and insist that the trial will go on in order to uphold the court's "prestige, reputation and integrity." (New York Times)

Judges Order Milosevic Case Delay (September 16, 2004)
Judges of the International Criminal Tribunal in Yugoslavia have given another month to former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's court-appointed lawyers to prepare their case. The lawyers claim that Milosevic is not cooperating and several defense witnesses refuse to testify. (BBC)

Judges Weigh Risks of Forcing Lawyer on Milosevic (July 9, 2004)
By appointing a defense counsel for former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic against Milosevic's will, the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia faces the risk of a quagmire. While a counsel would probably speed up the trial, the court risks undermining faith in its fairness both within Serbia and the international community. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

Milosevic Fit Enough for Trial, May Get Defense Help (July 6, 2004)
Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia pushed for a "radical review" of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's trial, because of lengthy delays due to his health. The Court did not find evidence that Milosevic's health keeps him from standing trial, but added that he may not be fit to continue to represent himself. (Reuters)

Milosevic to Fight "Terrible Accusations" (June 17, 2004)
Preparing for his defense against charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic pledged to prove to the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia that the indictments are "false" and politically motivated "lies." (Reuters)

Milosevic Calls Blair and Clinton to The Hague (April 14, 2004)
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has compiled a list of 1, 631 witnesses, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President Bill Clinton, for questioning in his defense. The number of witnesses called by Milosevic is already five times higher than that called by the prosecution in two years. (Guardian)

Scots Judge Appointed to Milosevic War Crimes Trial (April 14, 2004)
Lord Bonomy will replace Chief Judge Richard May at the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan confirmed the appointment after consultations with members of the Security Council and the General Assembly. (Press Association)

Prosecution in Milosevic Trial Rests Case Early (February 26, 2004)
Carla Del Ponte, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court for Yugoslavia has closed her arguments in the case against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, acknowledging that she has not produced evidence linking Milosevic to genocide in the Balkans. Critics argue that Del Ponte should not have indicted Milosevic for genocide if she didn't have the evidence at the time. (Los Angeles Times)

Ill Milosevic Puts Trial on Hold (February 19, 2004)
Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia agreed to put the trial of Slobodan Milosevic on hold for the fourteenth time, due to Milosevic's poor health. Velko Valkanov, one of the founders of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, previously denounced the tribunal as "an instrument of political revenge" and suggested that its aim might be to kill the former Yugoslav president." (Australian)

Milosevic and Genocide: Has the Prosecution Made the Case? (February 18, 2004)
This Institute for War and Peace Reporting article questions whether the genocide charges against Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague will result in a conviction. Legal experts fear that the prosecution has not made the case for genocide in part because the tribunal's definition of genocide is setting the "burden of proof too high."

The Milosevic Trial is A Travesty (February 12, 2004)
This Guardian article questions the impartiality of the International Criminal Court for Yugoslavia (ICTY), calling the court a "blatantly political body." It charges that the ICTY refuses to consider the "prima facie evidence" that Western leaders are guilty of war crimes in the Balkan conflict.

The Biggest Cover-Up in UN History (February 11, 2004)
Diego Arria, former Venezuelan ambassador to the UN and current special advisor to the UN Secretary General, testified at the Milosevic trial that former UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali and his Secretariat either "withheld information" or "fed the Security Council misinformation" about the real situation in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995. (Sense News Agency)

Haggling over Bosnia (January 26, 2004)
In his testimony, Hrvoje Sarinic, an advisor to former Croatian president Franjo Tudjman, gave an inside account of Milosevic's role in the carve-up of Bosnia and Croatia during the Balkan war. Sarinic described Milosevic as a "leader obsessed with power and seemingly indifferent to the fate of the people." (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)







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