ICTY orders Serbian nationalist Seselj to return to court
ICTY orders Serbian nationalist Seselj to return to court

Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] ruled [judgment, PDF] Monday that Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj violated conditions of his provisional release and must return to the court’s cellblock in The Hague. Seselj, who was released in November for medical treatment in Serbia, was accused of recruiting paramilitary forces during the Balkan wars. UN prosecutors are claiming [AP report] that Seselj should be sentenced to 28 years in prison for war crimes including hate speeches and the planning of rallies and violence against non-Serbs. His release was based on the condition that he would not interfere with victims or witnesses and that he would return to the tribunal if summoned. Seselj told news conferences that he would not return voluntarily and made statements challenging Serbian police to try to arrest him. After the release of these statements, the appeals judges agreed in a written decision that Seselj had breached conditions of his release and ordered that he be detained and sent back to the UN tribunal.

In February JURIST Guest Columnist Gregory Gordon of the Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, discussed the decision of the International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia to grant provisional release to Vojislav 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 [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.