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Serb nationalist persists in war crimes trial boycott despite lawyers' urgings

[JURIST] A Serbian war crimes suspect will continue boycotting his war crimes trial, despite the urgings of his court-appointed lawyers, who have not had contact with him since Monday. Lawyers for Serbian war crimes suspect Vojislav Seselj [BBC profile; ICTY case backgrounder] told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] that their client has refused to speak with them about his case since Monday, when the ICTY stripped Seselj of his right to defend himself [JURIST report] after he failed to appear in court. Seselj, who has been on hunger strike [JURIST report] for over two weeks, also skipped a pre-trial hearing [JURIST report] last week. An ICTY appeals panel ruled in October that Seselj could represent himself [JURIST report] during trial, but warned that future courtroom antics would not be tolerated. During a pre-trial hearing earlier this month, Seselj was removed from the courtroom [JURIST report] for disrupting proceedings whenever the court-appointed lawyers attempted to speak.

Seselj was indicted by the ICTY in 2003 and charged [indictment, PDF] 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, five of which were dropped [JURIST report] by the ICTY earlier this month. AP has more.

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