U.N. war crimes tribunal to consider splitting Milosevic case into separate trials

The U.N. war crimes tribunal said Tuesday it will consider next week splitting the case of former Yugoslav President &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/365/15023_milosevic.html' target=_blank>Slobodan Milosevic into separate trials, as proceedings were again delayed by his ill health.

U.N. judges ordered Milosevic and prosecutors to prepare arguments on whether the court should issue a separate verdict on the 1998-1999 Kosovo war and later deal with charges related to the earlier wars in &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/2002/12/03/40313.html' target=_blank>Croatia and Bosnia. A hearing will be held next Tuesday.

Both the prosecution and members of Milosevic's legal team said they would oppose breaking up the case at this stage.

Such a ruling could speed up the landmark trial that has dragged on for nearly four years and would likely secure a verdict in at least one of the three indictments against the former Serbian leader.

Milosevic's legal adviser, Zdenko Tomanovic, said in Belgrade that splitting the case would be "a huge blow for the defense."

He said that the defense planned to question several witnesses, including senior foreign officials, who can testify about all the charges, and to call them near the end of the joint trial.

"Those are key witnesses for the whole case, and not only for Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia," Tomanovic said. "I can only hope that there will be no splitting of the case."

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