The beginning of the defense case is postponed due to the bad health of the accused. The prosecutor asks for a defense counsel to be appointed to Milosevic and the amici curiae question the competency of the accused to stand trial. Judges announce a "radical review of the course of the trial so far and its continuation." A decision is expected today or tomorrow.

Slobodan Milosevic in the courtroomSlobodan Milosevic in the courtroom

The Trial Chamber will "radically review" the course of the Milosevic trial so far and its continuation in light of the health of the accused, so said presiding judge Patrick Robinson at the end of a 45-minute hearing dealing with housekeeping matters.

Instead of the scheduled beginning of Milosevic’s defense case, the discussion in court today revolved around the high blood pressure of the accused and its impact on the continuation of the trial. Despite Milosevic's opposition, Judge Robinson read - in the interest of the public - a report submitted last week to the Chamber by a cardiologist. It stated that high blood pressure has caused a "serious crisis in the health condition of the accused," who has been advised to rest "until at least 9 July."

Various ideas were broached in the course of the debate as to when and how to proceed with the trial. Claiming that his health deteriorated because he has been "denied adequate time to recuperate," Milosevic sought that the trial be adjourned for "at least a month." Noting that the health of the accused has been deteriorating constantly over the past 18 months, amicus curiae Steven Kay asked whether the time had come to consider if the accused was "able to stand trial at all," or in other words, if he was "competent to stand trial."

According to prosecutor Geoffrey Nice, the health problems of the accused are in whole or for the most part caused by the fact that he is defending himself. Solutions should be sought, he said - all the more so because the cardiologist's prognosis is that problems with stress and blood pressure will recur as the trial proceeds. Noting that it is "of crucial importance for this case to be brought to a conclusion," Nice again presented his old view: a legal counsel should be appointed to Milosevic against his will. The legal counsel would then assist him in the courtroom, reducing the burden and stress Milosevic suffers from defending himself. In Nice’s view, the best solution would be to entrust one of the current amici curiae with this role; one choice could be Belgrade lawyer Branislav Tapuskovic, who is "well-acquainted with the case." Nice suggested yet another measure designed to relieve the burden on the accused: Milosevic could follow parts of the trial via a video link established between the Detention Unit and the courtroom. Finally, the prosecutor supported an idea broached by Judge Bonomy: Milosevic could submit his opening statement at the beginning of his defense in writing instead of orally.

As to be expected, Milosevic categorically opposed all the prosecution’s proposals, including Judge Bonomy's idea about submitting his opening statement in writing.

As he brought the hearing to a close, Judge Robinson announced that the Chamber would deliver its decision today or tomorrow at the latest.