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

Seselj Hospital Stay "Scheduled"

Treatment comes just before closing arguments begin in war crimes trial.
By Rachel Irwin
  • Vojislav Seselj in the ICTY courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)
    Vojislav Seselj in the ICTY courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)

The Hague tribunal has denied local media reports that Serbian nationalist politician Vojislav Seselj was rushed to the hospital this week.

“I can confirm that Seselj has been transferred to a hospital outside the UNDU [United Nations Detention Unit],” tribunal spokesperson Nerma Jelacic said in a March 1 statement. “This was a previously scheduled procedure and not an emergency. The Registry has informed his family and legal advisers earlier today.”

Media outlets in the Balkans had reported that Seselj was taken ill and had to be “rushed” to hospital, and that the tribunal failed to notify his family and his legal advisors.

Seselj was also in hospital January, and told a hearing last month that he was fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, or ICD, which he said would prevent “sudden death”. He claimed that the court’s announcement that he had a pacemaker implanted was a “lie”. (For more, see Seselj Claims Judges "Mocking" Him.)

Since his surrender to the tribunal in 2003, Seselj has insisted on representing himself and has vowed on numerous occasions to “destroy” the Hague tribunal. He recently filed a lengthy submission claiming that the tribunal owes him two million euro in “damages.”

Seselj is charged with nine counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity – including murder, torture and forcible transfer – for atrocities carried out in an effort to expel the non-Serb population from parts of Croatia and Bosnia between August 1991 and September 1993. He remains leader of the Serbian Radical Party in Belgrade.

Seselj’s criminal trial has endured repeated delays since it officially began in November 2007, a full year after the original trial date was postponed due to the accused’s hunger strike.

Closing arguments are due to begin on, March 5, since Seselj has declined to present a defence case.

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.