Judith Armatta, a lawyer and journalist, attended the proceedings of the trial of former Serbian president Slobodan Milošević over a period of nearly three years. During this period, the court was in session for 466 days, interrupted by repeated breaks necessitated by the accused’s increasing health problems. Charged with sixty-six counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, Milošević declined to have counsel appointed, electing instead to defend himself. The court’s willingness to allow Milošević to do so and to do so on his own terms proved to be a huge mistake, as Armatta stresses. The fallen Serbian leader’s priority was not to defend himself but rather to portray himself as a martyr for Serbia, outline an alternative history of events in the post-Yugoslav region, and demolish, as far as he was able, the testimony of witnesses. But what is striking is that Milošević’s line of cross-examination repeatedly proved to be damaging to his case, his own witnesses often proved to be more useful to the prosecution that to the defense, and Milošević used up a lot of time with speeches and with lines of questioning entirely irrelevant to the charges against him. Milošević also did his best to intimidate witnesses, entering into arguments with them; one witness, Agim Zeqiri, a farmer, was so shaken after the first day that he refused to continue.
Ramet, Sabrina P.
"Twilight of Impunity: The War Crimes Trial of Slobodan Milosevic,"
International Dialogue: Vol. 3, Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/id-journal/vol3/iss1/9