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Milosevic wants Blair, Clinton as witnesses
Updated: 2004-04-14 08:36

Slobodan Milosevic wants British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former U.S. President Bill Clinton to be called as witnesses at his war crimes trial, a legal adviser of the ex-Yugoslav president said Tuesday.

Milosevic, due to being his defense case on June 8, submitted a list of 1,631 people he wants to appear as witnesses in the United Nations court in The Hague, lawyer Zdenko Tomanovic said.

This would be over five times the number called by the prosecution during the first two years of Europe's biggest war crimes trial since Hitler's henchmen were tried at Nuremberg after World War II.

It is up to the judges to decide which witnesses can appear.

Milosevic is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo in the 1990s.

Blair and Clinton were key Western leaders behind NATO's 11-week bombing campaign to halt Serbian repression of Kosovo's Albanians in 1999. Clinton was in power when the United States brokered the peace deal that ended the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

"The list includes a group of witnesses Slobodan Milosevic marked as hostile witnesses," Tomanovic told Reuters by phone from The Netherlands.

"Milosevic is asking the court to call Clinton, Blair, Albright, Cook...," he said, referring to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.

Milosevic, ousted by Serb reformers as Yugoslav president in 2000 and sent the following year to The Hague, is defending himself and has vigorously cross-examined witnesses.

He has dismissed the charges against him as politically motivated lies and says he does not recognize the court.


Milosevic's witness list also groups senior officials in old Yugoslavia, Tomanovic said. He later told local television he believed the court would rule in favor of Milosevic's request, adding the list had been reduced from 5,337 names initially.

A spokesman for the Hague tribunal, saying the list was filed confidentially and that he had not seen it, stressed it was up to the trial chamber to decide whether the proposed witnesses were relevant to the case.

"The mere fact that he submitted all these names doesn't necessarily mean that all of these witnesses will appear," Jim Landale told Reuters. "All we've got at the moment is a submission by the accused of witnesses he would like to call."

The trial, dogged by Milosevic's bouts of illness, opened in February 2002. It was adjourned in February when prosecutors rested their case after calling some 290 witnesses in two years.

The trial was also jolted when presiding Judge Richard May stepped down in late February citing health reasons.

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