NO WITNESSES, NO "TRIAL" - September 13, 2004


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Monday, September 13, 2004 - Only days after the Hague Tribunal's "judges" imposed two British lawyers, Mr. Steven Kay and Ms. Gillian Higgins, on Slobodan Milosevic against his will, the so-called "trial" is hurtling towards a brick wall. Hundreds of witnesses are boycotting the trial in protest over the court's flagrantly illegal decision to deny Milosevic the right to present his defense.


It is exactly as I predicted that it would be in my July 6th editorial when I said, "No defense witness will cooperate, or agree to testify for an illegitimate lawyer imposed by the tribunal... [the] witnesses will refuse to testify unless they are examined by Slobodan Milosevic personally."


Witnesses who had been scheduled to testify are now boycotting the trial in droves. Nearly 200 witnesses have sent notice to the tribunal or to Milosevic's associates that they will not come unless the tribunal reverses its decision and allows Milosevic to present his own defense.


The "trial" had to be cancelled on Monday because Milosevic's court imposed attorney's couldn't find any witnesses who were willing to come and testify.


According to Milosevic's legal associate, Zdenko Tomanovic, refusals so far have come from German, Russian, Canadian and French witnesses, many of them former high-ranking politicians and military officers.

Tomanovic said that among those withdrawing from the witness list were a retired German military officer, Elmar Schmahling, a former Soviet prime minister, Nikolai Ryzhkov, and Canadian professor, Michel Chossudovsky.


Professor Chossudovsky had been scheduled to be the next witness. Mr. Kay had even arranged for him to meet with Milosevic on Monday, but since Chossudovsky decided not to testify the meeting was cancelled.


It has also been reported that five French witnesses who've boycotted the trial include former French intelligence service head Yves Bonnet and a former member of the French parliament Gabriel Kaspereit.

Tomanovic has shown reporters a letter addressed to Milosevic dated Sept. 8 from George Kenney, a former U.S. State Department official. It said: "Your defense, the defense for which I had consulted with you in The Hague, does not now exist. Consequently, I cannot in good conscience act as a 'defense witness' under the Tribunal's current rules." If the tribunal reversed its decision, he said, he would appear.


Tomanovic denies that Milosevic is discouraging witnesses from attending. He says that the witnesses themselves have objected to the proceedings after the court deprived Milosevic of the right to defend himself.


Meanwhile, the court-imposed lawyers have asked the tribunal's appeals chamber to remove them from the case and allow Milosevic to represent himself again.


For his part, Milosevic has refused to see Mr. Kay or Ms. Higgins. According to Milosevic the imposition of the lawyers is "an obvious effort to dilute and maim my defense."


The next witness will be Rollie Kieth, a former Canadian military officer who was part of the OSCE observer mission in Kosovo before NATO's 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. Earlier press reports erroneously reported that he too has refused to testify.

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