Moscow Backs Milosevic Provisional Release Bid

(TU No 436, 20-Jan-06)

Moscow Backs Milosevic Provisional Release Bid

(TU No 436, 20-Jan-06)

Saturday, 4 February, 2006
The former Yugoslav president, who suffers from chronic hypertension, has lately begun to complain of new symptoms including difficulty in hearing. Before the tribunal broke for its winter recess in December, he asked to spend the holiday at the Bakoulev Scientific Centre for Cardiovascular Surgery in Moscow.

On December 20, the lawyers assigned to assist Milosevic with his defence case filed a formal request for provisional release, arguing that the treatment he had received from court-approved doctors in the Netherlands was unsatisfactory.

They insisted that, given that their client was “instantly recognisable” and in poor health, it was “unrealistic” to think that he would attempt to escape if allowed to travel to Russia.

A spokesperson for the Russian foreign affairs ministry, Mikhail Kamynin, this week said that his government had also offered to guarantee Milosevic’s personal security during any stay in Moscow and to report to the tribunal about his compliance with whatever conditions might be placed on his release.

Kamynin added that Milosevic, for his part, had promised not to leave the premises of the Bakoulev Centre or discuss his case with anyone but his legal advisers. A “series of personal undertakings” signed by Milosevic was included in a confidential annex to the latest submission filed by his assigned counsel.

In a written response to the question of provisional release filed in December, prosecutor Geoffrey Nice argued that Milosevic’s vocal contempt for the Hague tribunal meant that no promises made by him to return for trial could ever be taken seriously.

Nice also indicated his wish to file a new response to the request for provisional release in the event of formal guarantees being offered by the Russian authorities. Given the history of Hague indictees successfully hiding out on Russian territory, he said at the time, any such government undertakings would also be unsatisfactory.

Milosevic’s wife, son and brother are all said to be living in Russia.

Following the announcement that Russia would provide guarantees for Milosevic's release, his brother, Borislav Milosevic, told the Interfax news agency that speculation that he might take advantage of such a visit to escape from tribunal custody was unfounded.

“Milosevic has repeatedly stated that he would never choose to lose a tribune such as the Hague tribunal, where he can tell the truth about the atrocities that took place on the territory of his country, the destruction of his country and the aggression against it,” he said.
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