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[Emperor's Clothes]

Invited Lawyers Await 'Permission' to See Milosevic
by Jared Israel [7 July 2001]

I caught up with the lawyers Chris Black and Andre Tremblay yesterday by phone. President Slobodan Milosevic had requested to see them so they flew to the Netherlands on Thursday and are now waiting for officials at the 'War Crimes Tribunal' to approve their visit. They should have an answer Monday at noon, Dutch time. (1)

The trip has received much coverage, some accurate, some not. Mr. Black said the 'Toronto Star' had entirely misquoted him, misrepresenting the reason for his trip to The Hague, making it sound as if he wanted to pressure President Milosevic. Said ChrisBlack:

"The Committee to Defend Milosevic and its lawyers have nothing but admiration for what Mr. Milsoevic did during his confrontation with the Tribunal and we are going to the Hague to help him any way he sees fit."

The BBC (pleasant surprise!) got the story right:

"Two Canadian lawyers are travelling to the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague at the request of the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

"The lawyers are part of an international support committee that considers Mr Milosevic a political prisoner.

"Formed in Berlin in March, the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic is made up of 200 lawyers, writers and intellectuals.

"One of the lawyers, Christopher Black, said he was going there on behalf of the group to see the conditions of Mr Milosevic's detention and discuss any legal matters he wished to raise.

"At his first appearance at the tribunal earlier this week, the former Yugoslav leader declined to ask for defence lawyers and refused to enter a plea on war crimes charges....

"Mr Black, accompanied by his colleague Andre Tremblay, refused to speculate about whether they would eventually represent Mr Milosevic." (BBC News, July 6, 2001)

Things are not always handled so objectively. Here's a report I wrote about an interview the BBC had with Chris Black on July 3rd.


It's a Free World unless you're too free with your opinions. Chris Black reports on an interview with the BBC, 9AM Greenwich Mean Time.

Black: I had a discussion with the producer two hours before the interview. Everything seemed OK. When the program comes on, I don't recall the gentleman's name, but he was taking a very strong pro-NATO view.

Israel: That's no gentleman.

Chris: It starts with a lead-in. There's some Serbian person they found to trash Milosevic and say he has to answer for his 'crimes'. The usual. And then the Serb says, "All Serbs are responsible because we voted for him."

That seemed to me a very dangerous sentiment. First the assertion of crimes. He offered nothing to back it up but people would think, "It's a Serb saying this, so it must be true." And then his clincher: all Serbs are guilty. He says, "We shouldn't believe in collective responsibility." But then he says, "All Serbs are responsible."

So then they jump to me and the BBC guys says, "So Mr. Black do you think he's going to get a fair trial at the Tribunal?"

And I told him bluntly, "No," and explained why: "It's a NATO court, its purpose is to justify NATO's flagrant aggression."

And then he cuts in and says, "Surely you would admit that there are crimes he has to answer for?"

The 'surely' is where you're expected to cave; the pressure is for you to say, "Well of course I'm not saying that!" But I said. "No. Nobody has seen any evidence."

And he said, "Oh come on now, there is massive evidence proving his guilt. It's all been proven in the media. We've had it on the BBC."

And I said, "That's fluff. There's nothing solid to back it up. If they had anything solid they would have produced it by now. It's all fabrications that disappear when you examine them."

And he said, "How can you make such a sweeping statement like that?"

And I said, "Just as you made your sweeping statement, I have a right to make my own sweeping statement. The purpose of this court is to justify NATO's aggression against Yugoslavia to their own domestic populations. To justify that NATO had the right to bomb this poor country."

And he said, "But surely you would agree he can get a fair hearing!"

And I said, 'But surely I would not agree. He's been convicted in advance."

And he said "How? How can you say that? These are only charges, allegations. There's been no presumption of guilt. Who has convicted him?"

And I said, "He has been convicted in the media."

He said: "How can you say that?"

I said: "You said it."

He said: "When?"

I said: "One minute ago. You asked me how I could deny he's guilty when it's all been proven right in the media. Including the BBC. Your words."

That was when the phone went "Click" and there was 15 seconds of silence and then a woman came on and said, "Well thank you, then. Good bye."

Jared: That's it? Not even flowers?

Chris: Nothing.

Jared: I told you he was no gentleman.

-- End of report on BBC interview.


Though President Milosevic had requested the meeting with Chris Black and Andre Tremblay, they had to apply to the 'Tribunal', fill out forms, go through an interview. A 'Tribunal' official asked Chris Black what he, Tremblay and Milosevic might be planning to discuss. Black pointed out that such a question violates the lawyer-client relationship. The official argued that since the President was defending himself, he did not need to see lawyers. Chris responded that regardless of how President Milosevic is dealing with the 'Tribunal,' he has the right to consult legal counsel or anyone else he wishes. Just because he has chosen not to register any lawyers to represent him at the 'Tribunal,' because of his opinion of that body, does not mean he can't talk to attorneys.


I spoke to Chris again this morning (Eastern U.S. time) and also for the first time talked to the legal scholar, Andre Tremblay.

Tremblay is Professor of Law at University of Montreal. This month he addressed the European Parliament, delivering a scathing critique of The Hague 'Tribunal.' Like Black, Tremblay has been defending officials of the former Rwandan government, which has been jailed en masse by the Rwandan 'War Crimes Tribunal,' sister to the one holding Milosevic.

The current Rwandan government, which began as a military force trained and armed by the U.S., has no legal problems with the 'Tribunal.' Yet many experts say its leaders and their U.S. sponsors bear overwhelming responsibility for past and current violence in Rwanda. But that's a whole other nightmare... (3)

I asked Mr. Tremblay to describe his work and he said, "I defend poor people, the ones who are abused, the oppressed." About the kidnapping and 'trial' of Mr. Milosevic, he said:

"It is just the beginning. It's going to be a long fight. The President is in a very very good spirit and he is a man ready to fight. We do not fear and he does not fear at all - for we are telling the truth. "

Chris Black says other Serbian prisoners being held in the 'Tribunal' "have been electrified by Milosevic's resistance."

-- JI


Further Reading:

1) To see/hear Committee to Defend Milosevic lawyer Chris Black on CBC TV, go to

2) Regarding the demonization of Milosevic, please see "KLA Attacks Everyone. Media Attacks...Miloshevich?" by Jared Israel at

3) The Rwanda Tribunal is the subject of the article, 'One-Sided Justice At The Rwanda Tribunal' . That 'Tribunal' is also discussed in For Whom the Bell Tolls by Jared Israel. The background of the situation in Rwanda is discussed in the interview, 'A Murder in Congo' . The URLs for these articles are

4) One critical question of evidence is: What did Mr. Milosevic say? Did he exhort Serbs to commit hate crimes, as the Western media claim? Or did he preach ethnic cooperation and unity against NATO? You won't find out from the mass media, which manages to attack what he 'said' without quoting a word. One of the most important texts is "Milosevich's 1989 Speech in Kosovo" at





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