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Milosevic Lawyers Challenge Arrest and Detention - 2001-08-23

Lawyers for former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic have challenged the legality of his arrest and detention by the U.N. war crimes tribunal, saying his human rights were violated.

Lawyers for Slobodan Milosevic told the district court in The Hague that the Dutch state was partly responsible for what they call the "kidnapping" of Mr. Milosevic and other human-rights violations against their client. They requested his immediate release. Mr. Milosevic was not in the courtroom for the hearing.

Mr. Milosevic's attorneys have said his transfer to The Hague from Belgrade in June violated the Yugoslav and Serbian constitutions. They have also said the tribunal, which was established by the U.N. Security Council in 1993, is illegal and does not have jurisdiction.

Mr. Milosevic is charged with crimes against humanity for the killings of ethnic-Albanian civilians in Kosovo in 1999.

The district court hearing took place a week before the second scheduled appearance of Mr. Milosevic before the U.N. tribunal, which will examine progress in preparing for his trial that is expected to start next year.

If the district court motion fails, the attorneys for Mr. Milosevic plan to appeal to a higher Dutch court and even go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Dozens of war crimes suspects have been put on trial by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which meets in The Hague. Governments are expected to cooperate with the tribunal and surrender suspects ordered to stand trial under a U.N. Security Council resolution.