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Tribunal Tightens Rules on Seselj Submissions

(TU No 458, 23-Jun-06)
In his decision, published on June 19, Judge Alphons Orie noted that Seselj – who is accused of recruiting and financing Serb fighters, helping to plan expulsions and instigating crimes with his fiery speeches in the early Nineties – has filed a total of 169 written motions to the court since he flew to The Hague in 2003 to turn himself in.

Noting the “prolixity of the accused’s submissions, their patent lack of merit in general, the repetitiveness of their arguments, and the triviality of most of the issues raised”, Judge Orie said the usual 3,000-word limit governing such filings would from now on be reduced to 800 words in Seselj’s case.

If the accused raised issues worthy of discussion, Judge Orie added, he would be given further opportunity to develop his arguments in writing or in court.

The decision came just days after the tribunal’s president, Judge Fausto Pocar, threw out a demand, addressed to him personally by Seselj, that “honourable Serbs” in the Hague prison be kept separate from those who have reached a plea agreement with the prosecution.

Seselj argued that the presence of those who had cut a deal with prosecutors was irritating and that it obstructed other detainees’ efforts to prepare for their defence. He also suggested that there was a possibility of violence if the two groups were not kept apart.

Judge Pocar said requests for segregation ought to be put to the commanding officer of the tribunal’s detention unit, and that the rules anyway only allow a detainee to ask for himself be segregated, not others. He added that Seselj’s claim that the current set-up prevented him from preparing for his defence was a matter to be considered by the trial chamber assigned to his case.

At the time, Judge Pocar gave Seselj a “final warning” that he would not consider any further motions from him that contained “insulting or otherwise offensive” statements.

Seselj is next due to appear before the court on July 4, when a status conference will be held to review progress in his case, which is yet to go to trial.