Autumn Deadline For Seselj Trial

TU No 453, 22-May-06

Autumn Deadline For Seselj Trial

TU No 453, 22-May-06

Tuesday, 23 May, 2006
At a status conference on May 19, prosecutors said it would take around five months to hear the testimony. The identity of seven witnesses will be protected, a provision which Seselj – who is charged with crimes against humanity and violating the laws and customs of war – said “exceeded all bounds”.

“I am not going to endanger anyone physically, but I am going to catch them out all in their lies,” he said, adding he is eager for the trial to begin.

Seselj is charged with extermination and murder, persecution, deportation and the forcible transfer of non-Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia and Hercegovina from 1991 to 1995. He is also accused of imprisonment, torture, cruel treatment and other inhumane acts against Muslims and Croats, along with wanton destruction and plunder of private and public property.

Seselj was the leader of the Serbian Radical Party, SRS, whose platform included the establishment of a “Greater Serbia” uniting Montenegro, Macedonia and parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Hercegovina in a single Serb state.

His appearances in the courtroom so far have been marked by theatrical behaviour, and the most recent session was no exception.

Asked about the conditions under which he is being held, Seselj claimed that if “real Serbs” are not separated from “false witnesses who made their agreements with the tribunal”, there would soon be “a bloodbath” in the detention unit.

He was referring to Admiral Miodrag Jokic, who was sentenced in August 2005 to seven years imprisonment after pleading guilty for the shelling of Dubrovnik. Jokic remains in the tribunal’s custody pending an agreement on his transfer to another country where he will serve the sentence.

An independent audit of the detention unit by the Swedish government has agreed that convicted detainees should not be held together with those awaiting judgement, warning of possible “strained relations” if they mix.

At the status conference, Seselj demanded that his trial be held three days a week, giving him two days to prepare his defence – as was the case in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic.

And he repeated that his court appointed “stand-by counsel” - Dutch lawyer Tjeerd Van Der Spoel – has no right to say anything in his defence.

Judge Alphons Orie warned Seselj that his written submissions to the court have been “repetitive and too extensive” and said he must not use insulting language, saying the chamber would automatically reject such submissions.
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