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Who knows? Since the day last June when Milosevic was shut behind the thick red doors of a 10-ft. by 17-ft. cell in a U.N. prison near the sea, he has acted as if the trial was not happening. Every morning, he reportedly dons a sharp suit and tie to greet his fellow inmates. "Good morning, comrades," says Milosevic. "Good morning, Mr. President," comes the reply. Assorted lawyers pay him visits, but he has hired none to defend him. He confers most with his adoring, equally defiant wife Mirjana, who visits occasionally and phones every day.
Even if he has to be carried by guards to his chair behind the empty table reserved for defense lawyers, Milosevic will be at the trial. He will get equal time to make an opening statement. If past appearances offer any clue, he will claim he was just defending his country, just fighting terrorists like the U.S. is now, just suffering from NATO aggression. He will force the court to broadcast, as it has before, Serbian translation of the testimony from a loudspeaker. He will look bored, yawn, stare impatiently at his watch when prosecutors speak.
The tribunal has named "amicus" attorneys--friends of the court--for Milosevic, to challenge evidence and offer exculpatory facts, even if he won't. If he tries to put NATO on trial as an unlawful aggressor by calling world leaders as witnesses, they would probably refuse to appear. Only the judges could legally summon them.
If the Serb leader presents no legal defense, prosecutors believe they can make a swift case for conviction that is able to withstand appeal. But that would present its own problem. "It will be difficult to explain the lack of adversarial picture that people expect in court," says Dicker. "For that reason, it poses a real challenge to the judges: that the trial be fair to Mr. Milosevic and be seen as being fair." For the credibility of the tribunal, that is key. More than anything, the trial and its verdict need to convince the world's victims and villains alike that in the end, justice can be done.
--With reporting by Lauren Comiteau/the Hague, Matthew Cooper/Washington and Andrew Purvis/Belgrade