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ICTY resumes Seselj trial after delay over witness intimidation concerns

[JURIST] The trial chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Tuesday resumed [press briefing] the trial of Serbian nationalist Volislav Seselj [ICTY materials; JURIST news archive] after it had been delayed [JURIST report] for nearly a year over fears that witnesses were being intimidated. In order to protect their identities, the chamber will examine [press release, PDF] the remaining witnesses behind closed doors. Seselj, leader of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), is on trial in the ICTY, charged [indictment, PDF] with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes. He 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 during the Balkan conflict.

In July, the ICTY convicted [JURIST report] Seselj of contempt and sentenced him to 15 months in prison for authoring a book revealing pertinent information about several key witnesses. Seselj was charged with contempt [JURIST report] last January. The ICTY had previously stripped Seselj of his right to defend himself after he failed to appear in court, despite an earlier appeals court ruling that he could represent himself [JURIST reports] provided he did not engage in courtroom behavior that "substantially obstruct[ed] the proper and expeditious proceedings in his case."

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