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Serb ultranationalists say US, UN trying to kill hunger-striking war crimes defendant

[JURIST] Some 30,000 Serbs gathered in front of the US embassy in Belgrade on Saturday insisting that the United States and the United Nations are trying to kill ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) [party website, in Serbian] leader and war crimes defendant Vojislav Seselj [BBC profile; ICTY case backgrounder]. Seselj is currently on the twenty-second day of his hunger strike; he had been refusing medical attention [JURIST report] but on Friday agreed to a medical exam [JURIST report] by an "independent" team of doctors. The SRS, which denied the protest is a pre-election stunt, accused the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] of acting on American instructions and "jeopardizing Seselj's life". SRS Deputy Leader Tomislav Nikolic described the hunger strike as a "fight against injustice and humiliation."

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. When Seselj went on hunger strike in early November, he demanded [statement, DOC] that the ICTY dismiss his court-appointed lawyers, who he calls "actors" and "spies," 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 SRS, 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. Reuters has more.

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