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Milosevic at risk for heart attack

Slobodan Milosevic is at serious risk of a heart attack and needs more time to rest, according to a report issued after a U.N. medical examination of the former president.

"Milosevic is a man with severe cardiovascular risk which requires future monitoring," presiding Judge Richard May said at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal Thursday. Details of the medical report, ordered by the court in June after Milosevic spent several weeks in bed, were not released.

The tribunal recommended that Milosevic, who has led his own defense against war crimes charges, appoint legal counsel to reduce his workload.

Responding angrily in court, Milosevic said he had never sought a medical examination, "not even when I suffered high fever." He again refused to appoint a lawyer, saying the court "should not harbor any illusions that I am asking for anything."

Expressing concern, Judge Patrick Robinson of Jamaica suggested Milosevic accept an assistant to "share cross-examination of witnesses." Milosevic often spends several hours in cross-examination and works weekends preparing his case.

Milosevic's medical problems could further set back the trial, seen as the most important in international justice since Nazi leaders were tried after World War II. The former president has been hospitalized in the past for heart trouble and takes blood pressure medication.

"His workload must be reduced and the medical treatment by a cardiologist is most advisable . . . the accused should have such treatment," May said. The court will await further testing and "consider any option that may be available for the future conduct of the trial."

Proceedings were delayed last week over concern that the 60-year-old's blood pressure was too high, the third interruption since Milosevic's trial opened Feb. 12.

He previously suffered two bouts of flu and high fever, delaying proceedings by a month.

Milosevic is on trial for 66 counts of war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo during Yugoslavia's violent breakup in the 1990s. He could be sentenced to life if convicted on any count.