UN tribunal gives prosecutors 100 extra days to wrap up case against

In a written decision handed down today by presiding Judge Richard May, The Hague-based court granted prosecutors 100 extra days in court from 16 May – the original date by which the evidentiary process was to have been completed – to present evidence from some 118 witnesses and wrap up the case.Prosecutors had appealed earlier this month for an indefinite extension, chiefly until all prosecution witnesses could be identified and allowed to testify. But the lawyers appointed by the court to advise Mr. Milosevic, who is mounting his own defence, argued that by granting such a request, the prosecution case could become “excessively long and oppressive.”Judge May said the extra 100 days struck a balance between the two opposing views. He noted that while an indefinite extension would make the trial excessively long, namely for the accused “who has to meet this case and mount a defence,” it would be “in the interests of justice to allow some variation in the time limit to allow the prosecution more time to call further witnesses it regards as essential.”The trial, which started in February 2002, has been disrupted by Mr. Milosevic’s frequent bouts of ill health. It has heard evidence from more than 180 witnesses covering three conflicts spanning almost a decade of his 13-year rule. In April, the court had agreed to an extra 54 trial days to make up for some of the lost days. The Tribunal takes a three-week break in August and also takes regular breaks to allow Mr. Milosevic to rest. read more