Yugoslav war crimes tribunal refuses to revoke release of Serb nationalist
Yugoslav war crimes tribunal refuses to revoke release of Serb nationalist

[JURIST] Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Tuesday denied [statement, PDF, in French] a request from the ICTY prosecutor’s office to revoke the provisional release of a Serb nationalist who was granted a temporary release from ICTY custody in November for health concerns. Vojislav Seselj [ICTY backgrounder, PDF], founder of the Serbian National Renewal Party, has been in custody of the ICTY since 2003 for war crimes allegedly committed during the 1990s Balkan conflicts. In November the 60-year-old Seselj received a provisional release [JURIST report] from custody for health reasons, as Seselj is diagnosed with cancer [Reuters report]. The ICTY ruled the prosecutor’s office did not appeal the decision in due time, and its motion for reconsideration [InSerbia report] did not contain any new evidence or point to clear errors committed by the ICTY in November’s ruling, so it must fail. Additionally, the prosecutor’s alleged a breach of the conditions of Seselj’s temporary release, which were as follows: “the defendant should return to The Hague at the request of the Trial Chamber, that he should not have any contact with the witnesses or the victims, and that he should not interfere with the course of justice.” The ICTY ruled that Seselj did not violate any of the listed conditions, despite recent comments in the press which have been construed by some as public threats. Lastly, Seselj’s publicly stated he does not intend to return to the Hague, but the ICTY found he is not in violation of the release conditions until he actually refuses to return, if recalled.

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 1990’s that left more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced. Last month 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 [JURIST news archive] 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 $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. In August 2013 prosecutors at the ICTY demanded [JURIST report] a 28-year prison sentence for Seselj.