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ICTY postpones Seselj trial due to health of hunger-striking defendant

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] has postponed until further notice the war crimes trial of Serb nationalist Vojislav Seselj [BBC profile; ICTY case backgrounder], who has been on a hunger strike [JURIST report] since November 11, saying in a ruling Friday that he will likely be too weak to participate in his defense. ICTY spokesperson Refik Hodzic acknowledged [ICTY press conference summary] Wednesday that hospital staff would perform a "medical intervention" if there is a "medical necessity to save Seselj's life. Seselj, however, has forbidden staff of the ICTY [JURIST report] to force feed him, provide him medical treatment or resuscitate him should be become necessary, and has only agreed to be examined [JURIST report] by an "independent" team of doctors.

Seselj [JURIST news archive] was transferred to a Dutch prison hospital [JURIST report] adjoining the tribunal's detention center [ICTY backgrounder] at Scheveningen near the Hague Wednesday so that his medical condition could be more closely monitored. He went on hunger strike in early November, demanding [statement, DOC] the ICTY to dismiss his court-appointed lawyers and allow him to conduct his defense to nine war crimes charges [indictment, PDF]. The court later stripped Seselj of his right to defend himself [JURIST report] after he failed to appear in court. Seselj is accused of establishing rogue paramilitary units affiliated with the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) [party website, in Serbian), which 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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