Richard May, 65, the British judge who wryly cut off Slobodan Milosevic's courtroom speechmaking and presided over hundreds of hearings at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague, died July 1 in Oxford, England. No cause of death was reported.
Judge May resigned four months ago because of ill health, two years into the trial of the former Serbian leader. The case is the highest-profile prosecution of its kind since the trials of Nazi leaders after World War II.
Judge May and Milosevic, both strong personalities, clashed regularly in the courtroom over countless issues ranging from Milosevic's complaints about telephone use in his cell to his efforts to blame the Balkan wars on Western political leaders.
Milosevic rejects the legitimacy of the tribunal and refuses to follow courtroom etiquette. In a sign of his disdain, he referred to Judge May as "Mister May" or "Gospodine May" in his native Serbo-Croatian, rather than using his honorary title of Judge.
Judge May often was visibly frustrated with Milosevic but went to great lengths to ensure he was treated fairly, often assisting him in questioning witnesses and explaining how he could best contest the 66 war crimes allegations against him.
"Adding substantially to the difficult task facing Judge May was Milosevic's scorn for the tribunal and insistence on representing himself, despite his lack of skill and poor health," said a tribute to May by the Washington-based Coalition for International Justice.
Judge May joined the U.N. tribunal, formally the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in 1997 and had presided over the Milosevic trial since February 2002.
From the beginning, Judge May set strict courtroom rules that confined the hearings to the allegations facing Milosevic. But Milosevic had other ideas.
"I challenge the legality of this court because it is not established on the basis of law," he said on the first day of his trial, demanding that he be released.
"Your views on this court are entirely irrelevant," Judge May responded. "The matters on which you are choosing to address us are matters upon which we have already ruled, as you would know if you had taken the trouble to read our decisions."
After announcing his resignation suddenly in February, Judge May was replaced by Lord Bonomy, also of Britain.
The Milosevic trial is set to resume Monday when the former Serbian leader begins his defense. Judge Patrick Robinson has assumed the position of presiding judge.
Judge May, once an aspiring British politician who unsuccessfully challenged Margaret Thatcher in an election, had a long career on the British courts.
A Cambridge University graduate, he joined the British legal bar in 1965 and later served for 10 years as a district judge in Britain. He helped edit several books on judicial procedures, including "International Criminal Evidence" in 2002.