The death of Milosevic casts a shadow over the UN war crimes tribunal, which has been accused of multiple failures in allowing his trial to drag on so long. Legal experts say judges must learn from what happened, be stricter with defendants and keep the number of charges to a minimum.
The court was already having a difficult week after Serb nationalist war criminal Milan Babic committed suicide in his cell last Sunday. But it has defended the 466 days of hearings as forming key evidence for future trials. Former Balkans’envoy David Owen believes the failure to reach a conclusion has a wider impact: “I think it’s going to have a very bad effect in convincing those Serbs who still somehow believe that these crimes were not committed.” Milosevic used his trial to score points against the judges and gain popularity at home. His family accused the court of mistreating him. Those claims have clouded opinion among Serbs, and some analysts believe they could have an impact on Belgrade’s willingness to hand over further war crimes’suspects.