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ICTY drops 5 of 14 charges against Serb nationalist war crimes defendant

[JURIST] A panel of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] ordered prosecutors Wednesday to drop five of the 14 charges against Vojislav Seselj [BBC profile; ICTY case backgrounder], ruling that the dropped "crimes against humanity" charges were duplicates of "war crimes" charges also in the indictment [PDF text]. ICTY judges also ruled that the prosecution may not use evidence from certain sites, holding that there is enough evidence from other places to support the charges. Both determinations were made in an effort to speed up Seselj's trial.

The trial was originally scheduled to begin last week, but was delayed [JURIST report] in order to allow the defense more time to prepare. Seselj was indicted by the tribunal in 2003 and charged in connection with his role in establishing rogue paramilitary units affiliated with the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party [party website, in Serbian]. Those units are believed to have massacred and otherwise persecuted Croats and other non-Serbs in the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. Seselj has pleaded not guilty to the charges. AP has more.

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