Courtside: Seselj Case

By Chris Stephen in The Hague (TU 301, 17-21 February 2003)

Courtside: Seselj Case

By Chris Stephen in The Hague (TU 301, 17-21 February 2003)

Tuesday, 22 February, 2005

Unlike many high profile defendants who are arrested and flown by military plane to The Hague, this one arrived under his own steam. He boarded a regular Yugoslav Airlines flight for the trip from Belgrade to Amsterdam, the airport closest to the tribunal centre.


Seselj, former leader of a paramilitary unit, announced his intention of making the flight weeks ago, before any charges against him were made public.


The indictment, which accuses him of war crimes in both Bosnia and Croatia, was confirmed on February 14.


More than 10,000 people attended a farewell rally in Belgrade on February 23, where the famously short-tempered Seselj - who leads the Serbian Radical Party - spoke of his defiance.


He portrayed his trip to The Hague as a mission to defend not just himself, but the whole Serb people. On his arrival at Belgrade airport, the following day, he told the media that he would fight The Hague judges and "blast them to pieces".


Officials kept Seselj's arrival in Amsterdam as low key as possible. He was met by a unit of plain clothes Dutch police officers, and whisked away in an unmarked van to the tribunal detention centre.


Chris Stephen is IWPR's bureau chief in The Hague.


Support our journalists