Chairman of Duma committee on Yugoslavia proposes to suspend hearings in the Hague Tribunal for one year

Chairman of the State Duma's special committee on Yugoslavia Nikolai Ryzhkov has proposed suspending hearings of the case of former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic in the Hague Tribunal for a year.

He voiced his opinion on Wednesday at a press conference in the State Duma after his visit to The Hague, where on June 6th he met Milosevic in prison.

Ryzhkov said a break was necessary because of the ex-president's health. Also, Milosevic needs time to thoroughly prepare for the hearings and for defence.

By January-February 2004 the Hague tribunal intends to finish hearing of witnesses for the prosecution, according to the chairman. By now it has listened to about 180 witnesses, other 200 are yet to speak. The prosecution's documents exceed 400,000 pages, he said. Milosevic needs a break, as having refused services of lawyers he defends himself on his own and thus has enormous load preparing for the hearings that take place five times a week, Ryzhkov explained.

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