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

Witness Claims Seselj Case Politically Driven

Serbian Radical Party member said he thought tribunal investigators wanted to remove accused from Serbian politics.
By Simon Jennings
The Hague tribunal trial of Serbian nationalist politician Vojislav Seselj heard this week from the defendant’s former political ally who said that the prosecution’s investigations in the case were politically driven.



Jovan Glamocanin told the court that in September 2006, he met with tribunal investigator Dan Saxon, who he said wanted to discredit the defendant due to the threat he posed to the political scene in Serbia.



According to the witness, he refused to go and meet Office of the Prosecutor, OTP, representatives at their office, so they arranged to come and meet him at his own flat. It was there that Saxon asked him to testify, he said.



“I had the impression that Dan Saxon was far more oriented towards implementing politics and the activities of the [United States’ Central Intelligence Agency] than his legal functions and court functions,” the witness told judges, although he didn’t elaborate on this allegation.



Glamocanin said that during the meeting, he told Saxon he was not prepared to testify for the prosecution because he “knew of no crimes” that Seselj had committed. This prompted Saxon to push the political line, he said.



After these allegations, the prosecutor requested that the witness be warned about possible perjury charges, prompting presiding judge Jean-Claude Antonetti to remind him that he was testifying under oath.



“Under oath,” repeated Glamocanin. “And the oath makes it incumbent upon me to tell the truth.”



Glamocanin’s assertions were contrary to a statement he gave prosecutors in 2003.



Although he signed that statement at the time, he denied in court that it had been translated into Serbian before he did so. The prosecutor insisted it had been translated for him and the witness had signed it to that effect.



Seselj is on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity carried out between 1991 and 1993, when irregular forces under his control allegedly expelled non-Serbs from parts of Croatia and Bosnia.



According to the charges against him, the defendant conducted a campaign of persecution, murder, and torture in order to create a “Greater Serbia” – a plan allegedly linked to senior political figures, such as former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.



Glamocanin had been scheduled to appear as a prosecution witness in the trial against Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party, SRS, but later changed his mind and decided to testify for the defence.



He came to testify against Seselj only after he had been subpoenaed by judges.



During his testimony, Glamocanin also accused the late Serbian premier Zoran Djindjic of asking him to discredit the nationalist politically.



He said Djindjic invited him to a meeting in April 2001 and told him that Serbia’s new government “had a serious obstacle and that was Dr Vojislav Seselj and the Serbian Radical Party”.



Addressing his remarks to Seselj, who is defending himself, he said Djindjic had wanted to marginalise the SRS.



“Djindjic wanted to use that and use me to keep you at arms length, you and the Serbian Radical Party,” he told Seselj.



“He suggested various things to me and in return he would promise a good life for me.”



In court, the witness was questioned extensively by the judges, the prosecution and the defendant.



Glamocanin, who fell out with Seselj and left the SRS in 1996, before rejoining the party in March this year, was full of praise for the defendant.



“Dr Seselj was not in favour of any kind of violence or revenge, especially not persecution or genocide,” Glamocanin, who has a legal and political background, told judges.



The prosecution alleges that Seselj recruited volunteers to the SRS to help achieve his goal of a Greater Serbia. According to the indictment, Seselj visited these volunteer units and other Serb forces in Croatia and Bosnia, “instigating those forces to commit crimes”.



But when questioned about SRS volunteers who fought with Serb forces, Glamocanin said, “Seselj was very strict when it came to infractions and violation of discipline.



“In addition to noble behaviour, [Seselj] would always stress the respect the volunteers had to demonstrate and he always insisted on discipline.”



Asked about Seselj’s relationship with Milosevic and Karadzic, the witness said that Milosevic viewed the defendant as a political competitor and that Karadzic “steered clear” of him.



“I do not know of any intensive relations between Seselj and Karadzic,” he said.



In his earlier statement to prosecutors, the witness said Milosevic had supported the SRS and hinted that the late president might even have funded the party.



However, in court this week, he was not certain that such a relationship had existed.



“I cannot substantiate that with anything. It’s difficult to believe [because] Slobodan Milosevic blocked the party [and] incarcerated Dr Seselj,” said the witness.



In 1994 and 1995, Seselj claims to be have been imprisoned as a result of his opposition to Milosevic.



Pressed further on the allegations that Seselj conspired with Karadzic and Milosevic, among others, to drive out non-Serbs, the witness admitted that Seselj “did meet with Radovan Karadzic”.



The witness was then asked if there were also meetings between Seselj and Milan Martic, a former interior minister and president of the self-proclaimed Serbian Autonomous District, SAO, Krajina in Croatia, whom the prosecution alleges was also part of the conspiracy. In 2007, Martic was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being convicted of war crimes by the Hague tribunal.



“I don’t know specifically of any particular meeting, but I do know that there had been meetings,” he replied.



Seselj used his cross-examination to attempt to distance himself from Milosevic, asking the witness to elaborate how the SRS clashed with Milosevic during 1993.



“[Milosevic’s government] blamed you for engaging in violence and many other negative things and they made it impossible for you to respond to the allegations against you,” he said.



“He treated you as his most serious political adversary.”



Both the judges and the defendant also questioned the witness about Serbian politics and the goals of the SRS during the early Nineties.



“The objectives [of the SRS] were the preservation of Yugoslavia as a stable multinational community without bringing in to question the interests of each and every one of the Yugoslav peoples… and to establish a position of equality for the Serb people,” said Glamocanin.



“You were really a man who entered politics wanting to do something good for your people,” he told Seselj.



Simon Jennings is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.