Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on Monday asked judges at his war crimes trial for time off from prison to visit heart doctors in Belgrade during the U.N. court's winter recess. "This wouldn't even affect your schedule," Milosevic argued. Presiding Judge Patrick Robinson appeared momentarily stunned by the request. "This is an application for provisional release ... I can't believe you're even making it," he said.
Milosevic is facing 66 counts of war crimes in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia during the 1990s. He has been held in the court's maximum security detention center since he was extradited from Serbia in June 2001. His trial has been running since early 2002, slowed by Milosevic's frequent bouts of illness.
He suffers from high blood pressure and three private doctors who examined him last month recommended six weeks' rest. A court-appointed cardiologist agreed the former Serb leader could use a break, though he said six weeks was more than needed.
The court, which will recess for three weeks for the winter holidays later this month, has yet to rule on whether to grant Milosevic an extra break from hearings.
But Robinson said Monday that for Milosevic's request to leave prison to even be considered, he would have to make it in writing, with guarantees for his safety, supervision, and return.
Robinson suggested Milosevic, who insists on conducting his own defense, consult with a lawyer on how to put together his request. He then ordered the next witness to be called.
So far, Milosevic has used around 75 percent of the 360 courtroom hours allotted to him to present his defense, the same amount as prosecutors used to put their case against him, reports the AP. I.L.