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Milosevic War Crimes Trial Postponed Again

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic (search)'s defense case against war crimes has been postponed until Aug. 31 due to his ill health, the U.N. (search) tribunal said Friday.

The trial had been scheduled to resume Monday, after four previous delays, but a new medical report indicated Milosevic's blood pressure was still too high, court spokesman Jim Landale said.

"On the basis of the blood pressure values of the accused, (the doctor) advises he should not attend the hearing scheduled for Monday," Landale said. No additional details of the medical report were released.

Separately, the tribunal indicted a rebel Serb leader Goran Hadzic (search) for alleged human rights violations and breaches of the customs of war in Croatia during the Balkan conflicts, officials said Friday.

Serbia-Montenegro's Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic said the government had received a sealed indictment against Hadzic, former leader of the self-declared Serb Republic of Krajina.

Draskovic said the indictment was accompanied by a letter from U.N. chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who demanded that Belgrade swiftly apprehend and extradite Hadzic or explain reasons why it can't.

"My response (to her) was that I have no answer," Draskovic said.

The indictment accuses Hadzic of crimes against humanity and violations of the customs of war during 1992-1993 in eastern Slavonia, which is part of Krajina, Hartmann said.

Hadzic allegedly was part of a "joint criminal enterprise" -- named by the tribunal in a combined indictment against former top Serb leaders, including Milosevic, the indictment says.

Milosevic, 62, has been on trial since February 2002. He faces 66 counts of war crimes for the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

The trial has been set back by his heart trouble, exhaustion and bouts with flu. It was further delayed by the resignation in February of presiding judge Richard May due to health reasons. May died this month.

Milosevic's defense case was initially scheduled to begin June 8. He has been given four hours to present opening remarks and will then begin calling witnesses.

Judges are considering whether to force Milosevic -- who refuses to recognize the court and insists on defending himself -- to take a defense lawyer. They ordered him to undergo a full medical examination to determine if he is healthy enough to represent himself and fit to stand trial at all.

Legal experts say his deteriorating condition increases the chance the panel of three judges will force Milosevic to have counsel.

According to a medical report detailed in court, Milosevic has suffered organ damage due to high blood pressure, including an enlargement of the main pumping chamber of the heart.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

APTV 07-16-04 2232EDT