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ICTY orders Serbia to return Seselj to detention

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Tuesday ordered Serbia's justice ministry to return Vojislav Seselj [JURIST news archive], ailing alleged war criminal, to his detention cell immediately. Seselj had been held in The Hague on charges of leading ethnic Serbs to persecute non-Serbs during the Croatia and Bosnia wars in the 1990s but was released last month to return to Serbia for cancer treatment. Seselj has pleaded not guilty on nine counts including murder and torture. The ICTY had revoked his provisional release [JURIST report] in March, because Seselj spoke at a news conference in Belgrade and stated [WSJ report] that he would not return voluntarily to The Hague. The ICTY's request for his return will now be reviewed by the Serbian government [AFP report].

In February JURIST Guest Columnist Gregory Gordon of the Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law discussed the ICTY's decision to grant provisional release to Seselj and its repercussions [JURIST op-ed] on international criminal law and transitional justice. The ICTY [JURIST backgrounder] and the Balkan States continue to prosecute those accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s that left more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced. In December police in Bosnia and Serbia arrested 15 individuals [JURIST report] accused of perpetrating the massacre of 19 unarmed men during the height of the Balkan conflict. The investigation has identified Bosnian Serb warlord Milan Lukic [ICTY backgrounder, PDF] as the mastermind of the massacre. The trial for Seselj began [JURIST report] in 2007, after he was charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes, and accused of establishing rogue paramilitary units which are believed to have massacred and otherwise persecuted Croats and other non-Serbs during the Balkan conflict. In January 2012 Seselj sued the ICTY [JURIST report] for USD $2.6 million in damages due to alleged unreasonable delays in his trial, alleging that the tribunal failed to give him materials in Serbian; denied him communication with family members, doctors and legal counsel; delayed his trial interminably and refused him a right to his own independent counsel.

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