The ICTY’s care of Slobodan Milosevic – 2002 article by Jared Israel

A Look at Two Unbelievable Documents from The Hague

by Jared Israel 

[Posted 12 December 2002]

I have just read two documents from The Hague Tribunal. Both include 

statements that are simultaneously so outrageous and at the same time so 

matter-of-fact that I thought, "This man cannot possibly be saying what 

it appears he is saying." But in both cases, "This man was saying excactly what it 

appeared that he was saying. 

The documents are a) a note from Hague Tribunal President Claude Jorda 

and b) cardiologist P.R.M. van Dijkman's November 18th report on 

Slobodan Milosevic. Both are posted below. 

Two thoughts about these documents. 

First, The Hague's treatment of Slobodan Milosevic, such as the 

deliberate withholding of proper medical care and the worsening of his already 

life-threatening conditions, amounts to torture. That was the ruling of 

the UN Commission on Human Rights in a situation involving a much less 

serious medical condition. For more on that UN ruling, see 

Second, the torture of Milosevic is an analogue for NATO's torture of 

Yugoslavia: systematic, brutal and politically motivated. 

Let us read and analyze the documents. 

Judge Claude Jorda is President of The Hague Tribunal (ICTY). The 

November 27th letter was his response to an October 13th letter from Freedom 

Foundation (Sloboda) in Belgrade. Sloboda requested urgent action to 

prevent the death of Slobodan Milosevic. So: Freedom Foundation writes 

Jorda on October 13; Jorda responds to Freedom Foundation November 27. 

That's 44 days. How long does he take when it is *not* an emergency?

More comments after the letter: 

[Start Letter] 

United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former 


H. E. Judge Claude Jorda President 

The Hague, 27 November 2002 

Dear Mr Raicevic, 

I received your correspondence dated 13 October 2002 in which you share 

your concerns about Mr Milosevic's medical condition and request his 

provisional release so that he may receive appropriate medical treatment 

in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. 

I wish firstly to inform you that your request does not fall within the 

province of the President of the International Tribunal. Pursuant to 

Rules 65 and 74 bis of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the 

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, it is for the Trial 

Chamber seized of the case to order the medical examination of an 

accused and to rule on requests for provisional release. I am taking the 

liberty of pointing out to you that Trial Chamber III ruled on the matter 

on 6 March 2002. 

Moreover, the question of organising the hearings is the responsibility 

of the Trial Chamber which ensures the proper conduct of the 

proceedings with respect for the rights and health of the accused. In this 

respect, Trial Chamber III is taking due consideration of Mr Milosevic's 

medical condition when scheduling the hearings. Furthermore, like all the 

detainees, Mr Milosevic is receiving close medical attention of a high 

quality from the medical staff of the United Nations Detention Centre. 

As Registrar of the Tribunal, Mr Holthuis is following the situation 

closely and will, if necessary, keep you informed of changes in Mr 

Milosevic's medical condition. Yours sincerely, 

/signed/ ___________________ Claude Jorda 

Monsieur Igor Raicevic 

President Assembly of the Freedom Association [Sloboda] 

[End Letter] 

Ok, some comments on Judge Jorda's letter: 

On March 6, the trial chamber did indeed rule on Freedom Association's 

first request for the provisional release of Slobodan Milosevic. 

However, contrary to Mr. Jorda's assertion, that request *did not even 

mention* Mr. Milosevic's health. Moreover, the court made its ruling without 

considering arguments by the amici (court-appointed attorneys who 

comment on the proceedings) or for that matter by Mr. Milosevich, who has 

some interest in the outcome of the decision.

President Milosevic's health has deteriorated sharply since then. The 

deterioration was publicly admitted by Judge Richard May, President of 

Trial Chamber III. Judge May stated on July 26 that: 

"We have received a doctors' report which in its conclusion states that 

the accused is a man exposed to a serious cardiovascular risk which 

requires careful health monitoring in the future. The authors of the 

report advise a reduction in the workload of this trial and advise further 

treatment by a cardiologist." - ICTY transcript, 26 July 2002. 

Following the resumption of proceedings after the summer recess the 

trial chamber did *not* decrease Mr. Milosevic's trial schedule. Instead 

they increased his hours in court to a full day, that is, to a greater 

workload than was the case when Judge May addressed the issue on July 


The focus of Freedom Foundation's October 13th letter was precisely to 

criticize the Trial Chamber's blatant disregard of the medical report:

October 13, 2002

Dear Mr. Jorda, 

After our several letters to ICTY and many appeals of organizations and 

individuals from Yugoslavia and other countries, aiming to secure the 

proper life and health conditions for President Slobodan Milosevic, we 

came to the conclusion that the whole construction of the process 

against President Milosevic has as one of its intentions to break the health 

and threaten the life of President Milosevic. In spite of the oral 

promises of Mr. Richard May and the Trial Chamber that they would follow 

the recommendations of the ICTY-appointed physicians, that President 

Milosevic should get a cardiologic check-up, appropriate health monitoring 

and therapy, as well as that intensity of the process should be slowed 

down - in spite of those promises, the only thing that happened is that 

the Trial Chamber has returned to whole-day-long proceedings. That is 

why we demand release of President Milosevic and his return to 

Yugoslavia for recovery and appropriate specialists' medical treatment. 

Yours sincerely, 

Igor Raicevic 

President Assembly of the Freedom Association [Sloboda] 

-- Full text at 

[End Excerpt from October 13th Letter]

Obviously this is not your typical request for provisional release or a 

typical statement of concern about medical issues.

It is a complaint about *abuses* inflicted by the Trial Chamber. It was 

directed to Judge Jorda because Judge Jorda presides over the whole 

operation. So Judge Jorda receives a complaint about Trial Chamber III, to 

which the learned Judge replies: 'That should properly be addressed to 

the Trial Chamber III.' 

Disregarding the content of the Freedom Foundation's complaint, Judge 

Jorda states that: 

"I wish firstly to inform you that your request does not fall within 

the province of the President of the International Tribunal." 

But in the same document, he also states:

"...the Trial Chamber III is taking due consideration of Mr Milosevic's 

medical condition when scheduling the hearings." 

If the request by Freedom Association is not within Jorda's province, 

then why does he respond to it? Out of one side of his mouth he says, 

'This is none of my business.' But out of the other side of his mouth he 

says, 'We're handling this correctly.' Thus he concedes a) that Mr. 

Milosevic's life is potentially in danger and b) that he has authority to 

deal with the issue. 

Judge Jorda gives The Hague high marks for the medical care it is 

providing to Mr. Milosevic:

"Furthermore, like all the detainees, Mr Milosevic is receiving close 

medical attention of a high quality from the medical staff of the United 

Nations Detention Centre." 

First, Mr. Milosevic is not like all the detainees. He has a 

life-threatening heart condition.

Second, the medical staff referred to consists of: one doctor (a 

general practitioner) and one nurse. Mr. Milosevic is visited daily by the 

one nurse, not by the doctor. She gives the President a pill. The doctor 

is not a heart specialist. The nurse is gone on weekends. 

To describe this as constituting "close medical attention of a high 

quality ...medical staff" for a man with a life-threatening heart 

condition leaves me speechless. 

Third, on what basis does Judge Jorda makes this evaluation? Is it a 

matter of faith? That is, having *faith* that The Hague Tribunal always 

gives good medical care, is it therefore revealed to him that of course 

Mr. Milosevic must be receiving good medical care? Is Mr. Jorda a judge 

or is Mr. Jorda a priest? Because if this Tribunal is ruled by Priests, 

why don't they just name it Inquisition and get it over with?

Or perhaps Jorda 'knows' Mr. Milosevic is getting good care because 

after receiving the Foundation's letter he investigated the matter. But 

wouldn't such investigation itself constitute admission that Jorda has 

jurisdiction concerning the issues raised? And if he did investigate why 

did he not consult the Foundation which had brought the complaint? 

And given the life-threatening issues and most serious charges in the 

Freedom Foundation letter, why did it take Judge Jorda 44 days to reply 

that he is not the right person to consider the issue?

Why didn't he a) immediately send the letter to the right person and b) 

immediately contact Freedom Foundation to tell them he had done so? 

What took him 44 days? 

Moreover, on 2 November Freedom Foundation sent Judge Jorda *and* Judge 

May (i.e., the President of Trial Chamber III) a *second* letter 

raising the same issues, indeed more sharply, and citing UN rules that 

*require* the Chamber to deal adequately with President Milosevic's heart 

condition. This letter can be read at 

Judge Jorda and Judge May received this second letter 25 days before 

Jorda's reply - but Judge Jorda entirely ignores the second letter. 

Judge Jorda's response is even more shocking in light of the report by 

the Dr. P.R.M. van Dijkman, the cardiologist who was - finally and only 

once - told to examine Slobodan Milosevic on Nov. 17th. 

*How a UN Doctor Deals with UN Medical Abuse * 

[Start Report] 

"Cardiac case history: Essential hypertension with secondary organ 

damage: hypertrophy of the left ventricle. (...) In recent weeks during 

trial again steep increase in blood pressure up to around 220/130 mmHg. 

(...) During the tiring process of the trial, Mr Milosevic experiences a 

condition that looks like hypertensive urgency. 

(...) The treatment of increased blood pressure with medication 

generally reduces the possibility of death by 11 percent, of coronary heart 

disease by 14 percent, of cerebovascular accident by 33 percent and of 

vascular diseases (coronary heart disease or CVA) by 22 percent. (Source: 

Revised Guidelines for Increased Blood Pressure, CBO Quality Institute 

for Health Care). 

(...) It can be concluded that with a combination of sufficient rest 

and medication, the level of Mr Milosevic's blood pressure will be an 

acceptable one. 

(...) However, it has become apparent time and again during the trial 

that there are moments which cause Mr. Milosevic's blood pressure to 

"get out of hand". My advice on the matter as formulated in the letter of 

19 August 2002 remains unchanged: sufficient rest periods in 

combination with antihypertensive medication to keep the blood pressure at an 

acceptable level. 

(...) I leave it to the Tribunal to decide in what way sufficient rest 

periods can be incorporated into the trial. " 

-- The doctor's full report may be read at 

[End Report] 

This report is truly remarkable. 

1) The doctor admits that the chances of Mr. Milosevic suffering a 

sudden stroke or heart attack and possible death are directly related to 

his work load and amount of rest;

2) The doctor all but states that his recommendations have not been 


[Start quote] 

"However, it has become apparent time and again during the trial that 

there are moments which cause Mr. Milosevic's blood pressure to 'get out 

of hand'. 

"My advice on the matter as formulated in the letter of 19 August 2002 

remains unchanged..." 

[End quote] 

3) Prior to Nov. 17th, no heart specialist examined Mr. Milosevic. 

Yet this cardiologist states that he made recommendations for care two 

months earlier - on 19 August. That is, he made medical recommendations 

regarding a patient who suffered a manifestly life-threatening 

condition *without examining the patient.* And why did he prescribe without 

examining the patient? Because The Tribunal did not *want* him to examine 

the patient. 

This behavior of a specialist *working for the United Nations* in a 

case in which we charge the United Nations is acting as a weapon of NATO - 

this behavior illustrates the urgency of our demand that Mr. Milosevic 

be transferred to Belgrade's superb military hospital. There he will be 

examined by the best doctors, who are familiar with his medical 

history, and who do not follow Hague Tribunal orders to violate their Oath by 

prescribing treatment without properly examining the patient. 

That said, van Dijkman did at least state that the court urgently needs 

to change Mr. Milosevic's conditions. But then look how he concludes 

the report: 

"I leave it to the Tribunal to decide in what way sufficient rest 

periods can be incorporated into the trial." 

He leaves it to the Tribunal!. First Dr. Dijkman agrees to prescribe 

without examination, and then, when at last he does examine, he surrenders 

his professional duty to prescribe treatment to Dr. Richard May et al 

at Trial Chamber III.

Slobodan Milosevic has requested to meet with a delegation from his 

support committee, the ICDSM. That delegation is going to The Hague next 

week. It includes Quebec Attorney Tiphaine Dickson, whom the ICDSM has 

retained as counsel, as well as ICDSM Vice-Chairmen, Nico Varkevisser 

and myself, Jared Israel. 

It is very possible that on Wed., 18 December, the Tribunal will rule 

on two vital issues. One is whether and how to adjust the trial 

proceedings to remove the mortal threat to Mr. Milosevic's life. The second is 

whether to force unwanted counsel on Mr. Milosevic. It is very 

important that we be there to help fight for Mr. Milosevic - and the truth - 

through publicity and legal measures. 

Slobodan Milosevic has refused to bow. We are going to The Hague to 

support this brave and principled leader.

-- Jared Israel