Serbian nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj went on trial on
Monday at the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague on
charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Leader of Serbia's largest party, the Serbian Radical Party,
Seselj is facing eight counts of crimes against humanity and six
counts of war crimes relating to the murder, torture, persecution
and deportation of Croats, Muslims and other non-Serbs during the
Balkan wars in the 1990s.
Seselj, 52, has pleaded innocent to all the charges. He faces a
maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.
Seselj was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for
the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in January 2003. In late February that
year he surrendered to the ICTY in The Hague.
According to the indictment, Seselj allegedly participated in "a
joint criminal enterprise" between 1991 and 1995, which was aimed
at permanently removing a majority of the Croat, Muslim and other
non-Serb populations from large areas of Croatia, Bosnia and
Herzegovina and Vojvodina, Serbia, in order to make these areas
part of a new Serb-dominated state.
As a prominent political figure at the time, he is alleged to
have played a key role by giving many inflammatory speeches
propagating a policy of uniting "all Serbian lands" in a
homogeneous Serbian state.
Like his former ally and late Yugoslavian President Slobodan
Milosevic, Seselj does not recognize the legitimacy of The Hague
tribunal and insists on conducting his own defense procedure.
He has been removed from the court during pre-trial hearings
because of his disruptive behavior and insults to the judges.
Seselj went on hunger strike two weeks ago demanding that the
tribunal grant him a free choice for legal advisers, unrestricted
spousal visits and an unconditional right to conduct his own
Last Wednesday, he refused to appear at a final preliminary
hearing saying his voice was too weak for him to attend the
The Serbian Radical Party is currently the largest party in the
Serbian parliament. Last week Seselj said he will top his party's
list of contenders for the January 2007 general elections.
(Xinhua News Agency November 28, 2006)