Serb nationalist leader on trial at ICTY for war crimes

Serb nationalist leader on trial at ICTY for war crimes

[JURIST] The trial of Serb nationalist leader and war crimes defendant Vojislav Seselj [BBC profile; ICTY case backgrounder, PDF] began Wednesday at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [official website]. The prosecution in its opening statement told the court that Seselj incited atrocities through hateful speeches he made during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. 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) [party website, in Serbian], which are believed to have massacred and otherwise persecuted Croats and other non-Serbs during the Balkan conflict.

Last year, Seselj agreed to end his nearly month-long hunger strike [JURIST reports] after an ICTY appeals chamber ruled that Seselj could represent himself during trial. 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." BBC News has more. AFP has additional coverage.