News 09 Dec 14

Seselj’s Plea for a Bosnian Pension Rejected

The Bosnian Federation’s pensions department said it will refuse to grant a disability pension to Serbian war crimes defendant Vojislav Seselj, who worked at Sarajevo University before the war.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Seselj addresses a rally after his release. Photo: Beta.

The director of the Federation entity’s Department for Pensions and Disability Insurance, Zijad Krnjic, said on Tuesday that he would fight a legal battle to stop Seselj from receiving the disability pension he has requested on the grounds that he worked as an assistant professor at Sarajevo University’s political science faculty in the 1980s.

Serbian Radical Party leader Seselj’s request for the pension was filed before he was temporarily released last month by the Hague Tribunal for cancer treatment. Since he returned to Belgrade, he has caused widespread outrage by making a series of hardline nationalist statements about a ‘Greater Serbia’.

The Bosnian Federation’s Institute for Medical Expertise has approved Seselj’s right to the pension, but Krnjic told local media that he would file a legal objection to its findings.

Krnjic said that the Institute should have asked for additional medical evidence or demanded that Seselj submit to a medical examination in Sarajevo.

“According to the law, the Institute could have done all of this, but they did not, so we will not accept that Seselj has a right to disability pension,” he said.

The head of the Institute for Medical Expertise, Zijad Hadziomerovic, previously told media that medical experts from Belgrade visited Seselj while he was in the Hague Tribunal’s detention unit and that his documentation was valid.

“We worked professionally regardless of [Seselj’s] name,” Hadziomerovic said.

Seselj’s nationalist statements since his release and his insistence that he will not return to The Hague sparked a European parliament resolution urging the UN-backed court to rethink its decision to temporarily release the Radical Party chief.

The Hague Tribunal prosecution then asked for Seselj to be returned to detention. A decision has yet to be made by the court.

Seselj, who is on trial for wartime crimes in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, had been in custody since 2003.

The verdict in his case was scheduled for last year, but was postponed after one of the judges in the trial was removed for alleged bias. The new judge is expected to take until at least the end of June 2015 to familiarise himself with details of the case, causing yet another delay in the marathon trial.

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