THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The U.N. war crimes tribunal is allowing a former U.S. attorney general to be a legal adviser to former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
The tribunal said Ramsey Clark, a civil rights activist who was attorney general under President Lyndon Johnson, and British attorney John Livingston will be granted full privileges of defense council to meet and advise Milosevic, who is awaiting trial on war crimes charges in Kosovo and Croatia.
The decision, adopted Thursday, means Milosevic will be able to hold unmonitored conversations with the two lawyers, and that the tribunal cannot refuse to let them meet "without reasonable grounds."
Milosevic has refused to appoint an attorney to represent him in hearings before the tribunal, saying he considers the court illegal and doesn't recognize its right to try him.
But during his four months in detention, Milosevic was visited by several lawyers, including Clark. Some of the meetings were not monitored by U.N. authorities.
The appointment of the two legal advisers followed a request from Milosevic "to meet with them," the tribunal said.
However, Milosevic's Belgrade lawyer, Zdenko Tomanovic, was quoted as saying Saturday by Dutch national television that Milosevic was rejecting the tribunal's appointment of legal advisers.
Milosevic, who was ousted from power last year, was transferred to The Hague by Serbian authorities in June to face charges of persecution in Kosovo in 1999. Prosecutors subsequently charged him with war crimes in Croatia, and last week submitted another indictment for genocide during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
Clark, who has taken part in rallies in support of Milosevic, has also represented a former Rwandan pastor charged with five counts of genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity.