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Former Serbian Intelligence Chief to Stand Trial for War Crimes

Judges at the United Nations war crimes tribunal have determined that a former Serbian intelligence chief is fit to stand trial and scheduled the start of proceedings for Monday.

The judges acted after receiving a medical report on the health of defendant Jovica Stanisic, who is suffering from depression, intestinal problems and osteoporosis. His trial and that of his former deputy, Franko Simatovic, has been postponed three times because of the former intelligence chief's illness.

The two men are charged with arming and training paramilitary groups that murdered non-Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia during the Balkan wars of the early 1990s. Both defendants have pleaded not guilty.

The judges ordered the setting up of a videoconference link between the courtroom and the Hague tribunal detention center outside the city to allow Stanisic to follow proceedings from his cell when required. They also ordered a special telephone line that will allow him to communicate directly with his lawyers in court.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.