DECISION ON LEGAL COUNSEL DUE TOMORROW
According to medical expert findings, Milosevic is not capable of conducting his own defense and must be assigned counsel; if not, his health could deteriorate to a degree that would make the continuation of the trial impossible
The decision of the Trial Chamber on whether Slobodan Milosevic would be assigned professional defense counsel will be delivered tomorrow morning. If the Chamber opts for this solution, the parties will be invited to present arguments as to the manner in which counsel could be assigned.
This is, in a nutshell, the result of the hearing today on the health condition of the accused and its effects on the course of the trial. Parts of medical reports were quoted at the hearing; the reports conclude that the continuation of the trial under present conditions – with the accused defending himself – would very soon lead to an increase in Milosevic's blood pressure, preventing him from preparing his defense and attending the trial. The Belgian cardiologist Dr. Tavernier and his Dutch colleague Dr. Van Dijkman concluded therefore that Slobodan Milosevic was unable to represent himself before the court.
Sections of the reports read before the court by prosecutor Geoffrey Nice state, among other things, that there is "serious suspicion that the accused has failed to comply with the prescribed therapy", and that he "self-administered other medication", not prescribed by the doctors in the Detention Unit who provide his health care.
In the opinion of the prosecutor, the medical expert findings confirm that the accused must be assigned defense counsel; if not, his health could deteriorate to a degree that would make the continuation of the trial impossible.
Milosevic opposed strenuously the prosecutor's motion, accusing him of "mystification" and "manipulation designed to rob him of his right to tell the truth." Milosevic challenged Dr. Tavernier's findings by quoting the fact that he was "from the country where NATO has its headquarters", and asked the Chamber to appoint an expert commission with doctors from Russia, Serbia and Greece, plus two other doctors appointed by the Chamber.
When asked by Presiding Judge Patrick Robinson why he had not expressed his doubts as to the report of the Belgian doctor and why he had failed to seek additional medical expertise earlier, Milosevic replied that until today "it never occurred” to him that the Chamber might decide “to force defense counsel” on him. He concluded that "it was out of the question" since he, as he said, "would not accept that."
The decision of the Trial Chamber will be communicated tomorrow, at 9 a. m.
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