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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03THEHAGUE1417
2003-06-05 10:07:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy The Hague
Cable title:  

ICTY: IS MILOSEVIC HOLDING UP?

Tags:   PREL  PHUM  BK  HR  SR  NL  ICTY 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 001417 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR S/WCI - PROSPER/MILLER, EUR - BOGUE, EUR/SCE
- JONES/GREGORIAN, L/EUR - LAHNE, INR/WCAD - SPRIGG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 1.6 FIVE YEARS AFTER CLOSURE OF ICTY
TAGS: PREL PHUM BK HR SR NL ICTY
SUBJECT: ICTY: IS MILOSEVIC HOLDING UP?

REF: A. BELGRADE 810


B. THE HAGUE 209 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Legal Counselor Clifton M. Johnson per 1.5 (b) and (d) a
nd 1.6.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 001417

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR S/WCI - PROSPER/MILLER, EUR - BOGUE, EUR/SCE
- JONES/GREGORIAN, L/EUR - LAHNE, INR/WCAD - SPRIGG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 1.6 FIVE YEARS AFTER CLOSURE OF ICTY
TAGS: PREL PHUM BK HR SR NL ICTY
SUBJECT: ICTY: IS MILOSEVIC HOLDING UP?

REF: A. BELGRADE 810


B. THE HAGUE 209 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Legal Counselor Clifton M. Johnson per 1.5 (b) and (d) a
nd 1.6.


1. (C) Summary: The last two months have dealt blows to
Slobodan Milosevic from
Belgrade and within the trial chamber of the International
Criminal Tribunal
for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). In the ICTY, a series of
witnesses have hammered Milosevic with crime-based details of
the joint criminal enterprise of which Milosevic is alleged
to be the head. As in the past, such challenges have been
coupled with a decline in Milosevic's health, whether
genuinely brought on by the tensions of the trial,
manipulated for tactical reasons to prompt a trial delay, or
a combination of the two. Meanwhile, the series of actions
taken by the Government of Serbia and Montenegro (GOSAM) to
round up those connected to the criminal gangs associated
with the assassination of Zoran Djindjic has damaged his
support network and further increased the pressure on him. In
discussions with well-placed officials in the Registry and
the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) and based on their
observations of him at trial, Embassy legal officers have
gathered a mixed picture of Milosevic's physical and mental
health. End
summary.


2. (C) Embassy Belgrade has reported extensively on the law
enforcement actions taken by the GOSAM since the March
assassination of Zoran Djindjic, which in the process has
netted much of Milosevic's former colleagues in running the
former Yugoslavia (ref a, among others). Much of the round-up
has hit Milosevic directly. Close observers of the trial,
including those within OTP and the Registry, have long
believed that Markovic has given general direction to the
accused's defense efforts and led the political efforts on
his behalf, supported by Simatovic, Stanisic and a bevy of
Serb lawyers and bureaucratic (security, military, police)

holdovers from the Milosevic regime. A Registry official has
seen evidence that the support such persons provided is now
drying up, leaving Milosevic increasingly isolated in his
prison cell.


3. (C) In the weeks following the ICTY's spring recess (April
21 - 25), lead prosecutor
Geoffrey Nice (protect), who sees Milosevic in the courtroom
regularly, did not detect
noticeable changes in his physical appearance or his ability
to concentrate on the proceedings or conduct
cross-examination. However, Registry senior legal officer
Christian Rohde (protect), who sees Milosevic on a weekly
basis outside the courtroom and monitors his health closely,
gave a markedly different take. He told embassy legal
officers that
Milosevic had lost "a couple of kilos" in the past few weeks
alone. Rohde said
that those who see him outside of the proceedings believe
that his defense is
"totally weakening" and that it appears that he has lost
access to his sources
of intelligence and finances, something, Rohde averred, that
is showing in his
diminished level of trail preparation. The Registry has
Milosevic's blood pressure under
control at this time, but that is only because he is taking
his medication as
prescribed. If Milosevic goes off his medication, as he has
done before, the health problems that have disrupted the
trial in the past could come to the fore once again. On May
27, Milosevic came down with a high fever, causing the trial
chamber to adjourn the trial for two days. However, the
trial resumed on May 29.


4. (C) Senior trial attorney Dermot Groome (protect)
concurred with Nice's view that, if the accused is suffering
physically, his appearance does not reflect it in any
worrying way. Embassy legal officers, who see Milosevic far
less often than the prosecutors or Registry officials, noted
that while Milosevic looked a bit gaunt during some
proceedings in May, he did not look ill. Yet during the week
of May 13, Groome told an embassy legal officer that, while
he did not detect serious physical problems with Milosevic
aside from some gauntness, he did notice a few changes in his
preparation and courtroom behavior. (Note: Groome cautioned
that these were initial impressions and could not be taken to
reflect any kind of medical or psychological evaluation.)
Groome said that on May 8, the accused showed signs of
"disconnected thought processes" in his cross-examination, an
area in which Milosevic was usually strong. His questions on
cross were disjointed and did not seem to attend toward any
particular goal. Groome found particularly disturbing an
event in May 9, when, at the conclusion of his cross
examination, Milosevic stood around with the amici curiae
(the "friends of the court" assisting the defense but not
defending him per se) and "giggled and engaged in silly"
conversation -- something he'd never seen Milosevic do in
over one year of trial proceedings. It could be fatigue,
Groome suggested, but in a worst-case scenario, it could also
spell the beginning of some kind of physical or mental
exhaustion. If the latter, Groome worried that the chamber
could be put in an even trickier bind than it is currently
(i.e., where it must monitor the accused's blood pressure)
because it would need to monitor his ability or competency to
defend himself. Moreover, with a series of insider witnesses
appearing in the coming weeks, Groome is worried about the
possible cumulative effect of evidence and outside pressures
on Milosevic's health.


5. (U) Meanwhile, an outburst by Milosevic during the
presentation of "crime-base" evidence by the prosecution over
the past few weeks resulted in a significant admission that
the prosecution intends to exploit. Protected witness
B-1461, a farmer from outside Zvornik, testified to the
brutality of a Bosnian Serb paramilitary group under Dusan
Vuckovic. During cross-examination, Milosevic asserted that
"I and the authorities of Serbia" punished Vuckovic as a war
criminal for his actions. While Milosevic may have thought
that he was distancing himself from the crimes described, the
outburst also provide an admission of a degree of
disciplinary authority that he exercised over Bosnian Serb
paramilitaries -- contrary to his normal insistence that
Belgrade had nothing to do with the paramilitaries.


6. (U) On May 20, the trial chamber granted the prosecution's
request for an additional 100 trial days beginning May 16 for
it to complete its case. Milosevic did not object to the
request reportedly stating to the judges, "Time has been the
only consideration in what you call a trial." The trial
chamber concluded that circumstances exist to vary the
original order calling for the prosecution to finish its case
by May 16, and that it is in the interests of justice to
allow the prosecution to call as many witnesses as possible
relating to its core case. (There have been more than 50
days lost due to Milosevic's ill health since the trial
began.) The extension means that the trial will most likely
continue into 2005. The trial chamber noted that without a
final prosecution witness list, it is difficult for the
accused to adequately prepare his defense. The prosecution
stated that they would finalize the witness list shortly.


7. (C) Comment: Milosevic is entering the final stage of the
trial against him in a significantly weaker position than he
was just a few months ago. To outside observers, the
prosecution seems to have hit its stride, with credible
witnesses testifying to terrible crimes committed by those
who were affiliated with Milosevic or his supporters.
Milosevic seems to lack the resources to intimidate and
rattle witnesses as he has done in the past. Meanwhile, his
support network is dissipating -- it is unlikely that he has
spoken to the person closest to him, his wife, since early
April, when she was targeted for arrest by Belgrade law
enforcement authorities. The big question facing the
prosecutors and the bench at this stage is whether the flood
of bad news will eventually overwhelm Milosevic's physical
and/or mental health. Milosevic, though diminished, is not
near that stage now but the coming weeks should make clearer
whether the recent downturn in his health was a another in a
series of temporary fluctuations or the beginning of a more
sustained decline. End comment.
SOBEL