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ICTY war crimes suspect Seselj says tribunal is biased

Serb nationalist politician and war crimes suspect Vojislav Seselj [official website, in Serbian; JURIST news archive] on Thursday told judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] that he believes the tribunal is biased and that he does not care about the verdict. In his closing remarks, Seselj said the UN-created ICTY does not have jurisdiction over him, and that his trial was political [AP report]. Seselj is charged [indictment, PDF] with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes and is accused of establishing rogue paramilitary units affiliated with the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) [BBC backgrounder], which are believed to have massacred and otherwise persecuted Croats and other non-Serbs during the Balkan conflict. Last week prosecutors at the ICTY asked for a 28-year prison sentence for Seselj [JURIST report]. No date has been set for the verdict.

In January the ICTY announced that Seselj is suing them for USD $2.6 million in damages due to alleged unreasonable delays [JURIST report] in his trial. His war crimes trial began [JURIST report] in 2007 after he was charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. His trial was briefly suspended [JURIST report] in 2009 because of concerns witnesses were being intimidated. The trial resumed in 2010 after the delay, and was again ordered to continue in 2011 after Seselj sought to have the charges dismissed [case sheet, PDF]. The trial recently resumed in January, after Seslj's third contempt conviction [JURIST report].

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