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Yugoslavia: Milosevic Prepares To Face UN Tribunal

The Hague, 2 July 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Slobodan Milosevic is set to meet with his lawyers today in prison at The Hague to prepare his first appearance before the UN war crimes tribunal. His lawyers have said their client will tell the tribunal that he is being subjected to a political show trial. Milosevic lawyer Branimir Gugl said Saturday (30 June) in Belgrade that Milosevic asserts he is being victimized because he defied NATO and refused to give up Kosovo. Gugl said that Milosevic's legal team is not preparing a defense against the tribunal's indictments because, as the lawyer put it, "Mr. Milosevic does not recognize the tribunal."

Milosevic has had no visitors since being handed over by the Serbian government four days ago. The former Yugoslav leader is expected to plead not guilty after hearing charges of crimes against humanity read to him when he appears in court tomorrow.

In Belgrade, Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica -- who opposed the handover of Milosevic -- is due to start negotiations today to try and form a new federal government. The previous coalition collapsed on 29 June after a key Montenegro party pulled out in protest at Milosevic's transfer.

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic -- who backed Milosevic's extradition to the war crimes tribunal -- yesterday stressed the benefits of the Western aid pledges of more than $1 billion that came on 29 June.