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Yugoslavia: Hague Judge Rejects Milosevic Speech

The Hague, 9 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The presiding judge in a war crimes trial against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has refused, for now, to accept the ex-president's claims that the UN court has no jurisdiction in the case. Judge Richard May made the announcement after Milosevic issued his complaints in a speech to the court during today's final pre-trial hearing.

Speaking to Milosevic, May said: "We have listened to you patiently. You have been told a number of times that this hearing is purely to deal with matters of procedure. You will have a full opportunity at your trial to make your defense and make your statements. That time is not now. This hearing is adjourned."

Milosevic is due on 12 February to go on trial on charges that he issued orders leading to crimes against humanity in Kosovo during 1999.

Milosevic also faces separate charges of genocide in connection with ethnic cleansing operations that he is alleged to have orchestrated in Bosnia and Croatia between 1992 and 1995 -- including the mass murder of thousands of Muslims in Srebrenica. No date has been set for the second trial.