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Prosecutor Wants Lawyer Forced On Milosevic

Milosevic at the tribunal in July, when his health was said to be failing

1 September 2004 -- Prosecutors are asking a United Nations war crimes tribunal to force former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic to take on a defense attorney.

Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte made the request after another prosecutor, Geoffrey Nice, argued that the former Yugoslav president is not fit to act as his own lawyer in the trial, which began 2 1/2 years ago. Nice argued that the stress would heighten Milosevic's chronic high blood pressure and lead to further delays.

But Milosevic insisted on his right to defend himself.

Earlier today, Milosevic finished presenting the opening arguments in his own defense that began yesterday, saying the prosecution failed to prove any of the charges, which include genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. He alleged there were complex conspiracies against his Serb people and said his role was to strive for peace while protecting Serbs.