ICTY adjourns Serb nationalist leader's war crimes trial pending appeal ruling

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST news archive] has suspended the war crimes trial of Serb nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj [BBC profile; ICTY case materials, PDF] pending an appellate ruling on whether the defendant may represent himself. In a press briefing [text] Wednesday, the court announced that hearings had been adjourned until the court's Appeals Chamber "rules on the Prosecution’s appeal for the proceedings to be stayed until the Trial Chamber itself has ruled on its Motion challenging the accused's self-representation." Prosecutor Serge Brammertz [official profile] last month presented a motion asking the court to appoint counsel for Seslj, arguing that his self-representation was obstructing proceedings. The court on Wednesday further entered an order [PDF text] giving Seselj one month to respond to the prosecution's motion to impose counsel. AFP has more.

The ICTY had previously stripped Seselj of his right to defend himself [JURIST report] after he failed to appear in court, despite an earlier appeals court ruling that he could represent himself [JURIST report] provided he not engage in courtroom antics that "substantially obstruct the proper and expeditious proceedings in his case." The Appeals Chamber later ruled he could represent himself. The ICTY has charged Seselj [indictment, PDF; pre-trial brief, PDF] with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes. When the trial began last year, the prosecution made an opening statement [JURIST report] accusing Seselj of inciting atrocities [JURIST report] through hateful speeches he made during the Balkan Wars. He is the founder of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party [party website, in Serbian].



 

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