Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Seselj Demands 2 Million Dollars From Tribunal

(TU No 437, 27-Jan-06)
In a lengthy submission requesting immediate payment, Seselj wrote that the wide-ranging nature of the indictment against him has made his preparation expenses considerable. The 25-strong team of "expert defence assistants" engaged by the accused have added further to the mounting costs.

Seselj, who was leader of the Serbian Radical Party, SRS, has been charged with eight counts of crimes against humanity and six of violations of the laws and customs of war for crimes committed in Bosnia and Croatia between 1991 and 1993.

The charges include extermination, murder, torture, deportation, forcible transfer of population and the wanton destruction of public and private property.

The former politician, who continues to demand the right to present his own defence despite repeatedly having been forbidden to do so, is aggrieved that potential funds are being diverted to pay his assigned counsel.

His submission argues, "Isn't it clear to everyone that the fabricated position of standby defence counsel is actually an unlawful access to United Nations funds?" He then went on to express concern that the UN was being "robbed" by the tribunal's registry.

In a second request, which opposes his assigned counsel, Seselj insists that "as a doctor of legal science with many years of experience", he would be "the best possible ... person" to conduct his defence.

However, the request itself, which was submitted in the form of a densely-typed nine-page essay, was not in the standard legal format and did not betray the skill of a practiced advocate.

At the status conference, Seselj said that having been in detention for almost three years, he would “insist" that the trial start as soon as possible.

Proceedings against him have been delayed by the prosecution's attempts to try Seselj together with three other senior Serb officials, Milan Martic, Jovica Stanisic, and Franko Simatovic. The request was rejected in November 2005, and Martic's trial began one month later.

Judge Carmel Agius assured Seselj that he too was anxious for the trial to begin, and promised to issue decisions on the written submissions by the end of the week.

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