Andrew Osborn








Milosevic extradited - Painful reality check for jailed leader.

The Guardian, 30th June 2001 17:10

By Andrew Osborn in the Hague.

Slobodan Milosevic spent his first day of captivity in the west yesterday by organising his defence and calming his family by phone.

Closeted in a comfortable UN detention centre in the Hague, he chose the same team of lawyers appointed to defend him on charges of corruption in Yugoslavia.

One of the eight-man team, Branimir Gugl, told Reuters: "He said that he doesn't feel guilty because his policy was to protect the interests of the Serbian people and he said he would do the same again.

"He said he doesn't feel guilty of even one single Hague charge. He feels more for his family than himself. He was trying to calm them down."

The lawyer added that Milosevic had told his family by phone that he had been "kidnapped" and that it was "unconstitutional" and "illegal".

For a man who just nine months ago ruled Yugoslavia with an apparently iron fist, the reality check must have been a painful one as he was led to the jail early yesterday morning flanked by two guards.

His keepers - the UN - would only say yesterday that Milosevic had passed his medical, spent an uneventful night in his cell and that he was being watched to ensure that he does not harm himself.

It was only three months ago that Milosevic vowed to shoot himself rather than submit to a life of captivity and he is taking sedatives and other drugs to keep depression at bay and combat high blood pressure.

Initially segregated from the remand centre's 38 other inmates, Mr Milosevic was interviewed yesterday to see whether he felt any of them posed a risk to him since he will be free to mingle with them during recreation periods.

Milosevic's cell is just like all the others behind the 20ft red brick walls known to the locals as "The Orange Hotel". Measuring 15sq ft, it contains a bed, an en suite bathroom, a desk, a wardrobe and a coffee machine. He also has access to Yugoslav TV channels.

Other facilities in the centre include a library stocked with Yugoslav periodicals and literature, a gym, an outdoor courtyard, a recreation room, a prison shop and a room for prayer and contemplation.

Visitors are also permitted and he will be able to see his wife in private.

Milosevic will be formally invited to enter his plea on Tuesday and will also have the option of challenging the tribunal's jurisdiction.