Published January 13, 2015
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic defiantly refused to enter a plea to war crimes charges during his appearance at a U.N. tribunal Tuesday.
"I consider this tribunal false tribunal and indictments false indictments," Milosevic said. "It is illegal, being not appointed by U.N. General Assembly. So I have no need to appoint counsel to illegal organ."
Chief Judge Richard May, who repeatedly admonished Milosevic that this was not the time for speeches, entered a plea of innocent to the four charges, which relate to offenses committed by his forces in Kosovo during the crackdown on ethnic Albanians two years ago.
May adjourned the proceedings until a procedural hearing the last week of August. Milosevic was indicted in May 1999, the first head of state ever charged with war crimes by a U.N. court.
He was specifically charged with: deportation, a crime against humanity; murder, a crime against humanity; murder, a crime against the laws or customs of war; and persecution on ethnic or religious grounds, a crime against humanity.
Milosevic appeared calm and controlled during the 12-minute arraignment.
He stood flanked by two security guards as the three judges entered the chamber and spoke firmly as May asked if he wanted to reconsider his decision to appear without counsel.
Asked if he wanted the court to read the entire, 51-page indictment, Milosevic snapped: "That's your problem."