Saturday, March 11, 2006


One of the most important trials in the history of international criminal law has ended with the death of the defendant, apparently of natural causes. Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian leader who engineered ethnic cleansing campaigns in Bosnia and Kosovo during the 1990s, had been on trial for crimes against humanity since 2002 before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. He was found dead in his jail cell last night.

Today's New York Times story on Milosevic's death notes,

Mr. Milosevic was the first former head of state to stand trial for genocide before an international tribunal, and its proceedings, which began in February 2002, had already produced the longest war crimes trial in modern history. His death came as the trial was drawing to a close: he was in the final weeks of his defense, and his concluding statement was expected in late April or May. The judges' verdict was expected by the end of this year.

For more on Milosevic, see this obituary, this news analysis by Roger Cohen, and this brief statement by Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor of the ICTY.