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Milosevic war crimes judge dies

May had presided over the Milosevic trial since February 2002.
Richard May
Slobodan Milosevic
Crime, Law and Justice

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The British judge who presided sternly over the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic has died, the U.N. tribunal has announced. He was 65.

The judge, who resigned from the tribunal earlier this year due to ill health, died on Thursday morning in his home town of Oxford. No details of the cause of death were released.

"It is with great sadness that the tribunal has learned of the death of Sir Richard May earlier this morning," the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) said.

"You may be leaving us but your contribution to a lasting peace in the Balkans will be with us and the rest of the world for years to come," Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte said in a tribute to the judge after he resigned, Reuters said. May had served on the tribunal since 1997.

Milosevic chose to defend himself against charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, which he dismissed as politically motivated "lies" in a court he does not recognize.

May was praised by many for forcing the former Yugoslav president to stick to trial procedures and often criticized him for making political speeches in court.

"We are not impressed by your political points. You have made them a great many times. They do not improve with repetition," May told Milosevic at one hearing.

At another, May turned off Milosevic's microphone after the defendant accused the war crimes judges of bias. "This is not the time for speeches," he said, tossing his headphones onto his desk. "We have listened to you patiently."

The trial is due to resume Monday when the former Serbian leader, whose own poor health has also frequently delayed proceedings, opens his defense.

Judge Patrick Robinson from Jamaica has assumed the position of presiding judge in place of May, who was married with three children.

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