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Seselj Judgement Date Set for October

In his closing arguments last year, the Serbian politician challenged judges to sentence him to life.
By Rachel Irwin

The judgement against Serbian nationalist politician Vojislav Seselj will be delivered on October 30 this year, the Hague tribunal has announced.

Seselj’s trial took years to complete and underwent repeated delays even after it officially began in November 2007, a full year after the original trial date was postponed because the accused went on hunger strike.

When closing arguments were finally held in March 2012, Seselj – who represents himself in the courtroom – challenged judges to give him a life sentence.

“All I’ve been doing here is to shatter you completely. It might take a physical toll on me but I’m enjoying it, and I’m having the time of my life,” Seselj said. “If you bear in my mind how much I hate the [tribunal], then the only appropriate sentence would be a life sentence.”

(For more on this, see Seselj Defiant in Closing Arguments.)

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 non-Serbs from parts of Croatia and Bosnia between August 1991 and September 1993.

He is further accused of giving numerous inflammatory speeches and recruiting a force of volunteers who murdered, raped and tortured non-Serbs in both Croatia and Bosnia.

In addition, he is charged with being part of a “joint criminal enterprise”, together with numerous high-ranking Serb political, military and paramilitary wartime leaders, including the late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic.

The accused surrendered to the Hague tribunal in 2003 and has been in detention since then, but remains leader of the Serbian Radical Party, based in Belgrade.

Seselj has already been convicted three times on contempt charges for revealing the personal details of protected witnesses.

Rachel Irwin is IWPR’s Senior Reporter in The Hague.