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Milosevic Lawyer Fights to Leave Case

British barrister makes final plea to tribunal president to be allowed to withdraw from high-profile trial.
By Ana Uzelac

British barrister Steven Kay continued to fight against his assignment as a defence counsel to the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, while at the same time taking a far more active role in the trial this week than in many weeks before.


In his request to Hague tribunal president Judge Theodor Meron – made public this week - Kay has asked for a review of the court’s refusal to grant his request to withdraw from the case.


Last year, Kay lost his appeal against the trial chamber’s decision to assign Milosevic a defence counsel against his will, but won his client’s right to prepare his witnesses and examine them first.


Ever since the appeal, Kay has been trying to withdraw from the case, and force the court to find another lawyer to represent Milosevic, who has been refusing any contact with Kay and his team.


The trial chamber has already refused Kay’s initial request to withdraw as well as his appeal against their decision.


The letter to President Meron could be the British barrister’s last legal way out of a case that he has been involved in since he became an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” more than two years ago.


Observers doubt that the court will allow Kay to withdraw from the case, as it would struggle to find a replacement counsel as well acquainted with the case as he is.


But while he is still fighting to withdraw from the case, Kay’s first appearance before the trial chamber since he lost his recent appeal was marked by many contributions on many of the same issues he dealt with as an amicus.


On several occasions during the trial hearings this week, he addressed various legal issues that came up during the course of the testimonies. However, he continues to stress that he still has had no personal contact with Milosevic.


It is not clear when the tribunal will react to Kay’s most recent request.


Ana Uzelac is IWPR’s project manager in The Hague.