News 05 Nov 14

Hague Tribunal Considers Releasing Vojislav Seselj

The Hague Tribunal is considering allowing Serbian Radical Party leader Seselj, who has cancer, to go to his home country for treatment if Belgrade provides security guarantees.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Vojislav Seselj in the courtroom. Photo by BETA

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia said on Wednesday that it could release nationalist politician Seselj before the verdict in his trial because his health has worsened.

The UN backed court’s trial chamber said it had “received confidential information that points to a deterioration of the accused’s health”.

“To avoid the worst-case scenario, the chamber is examining the possibility of provisional release,” it said.

This would allow Seselj “to receive treatment in the most suitable environment while at the same time making certain that the security of the witnesses and the integrity of the proceedings will be guaranteed”, it added.

The court asked the Serbian government to guarantee that if sent for treatment in his home country, the Serbian Radical Party chief “will have no contact with witnesses or victims and that he will return to the Tribunal when ordered to do so”.

BIRN has learned that the Belgrade authorities will agree to provide the guarantees, but only if Seselj says he will abide by them. On a previous occasion when early release was suggested, the nationalist politician said he would not be bound by any restrictions on his movement or freedom of speech.

Seselj is on trial for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bosnia, Croatia and the Serbian province of Vojvodina.

He has been in custody in the Netherlands since 2003, when he voluntarily surrendered to the UN-backed court. His verdict was scheduled for October last year, but it was postponed after one of the judges in the trial was removed for alleged bias.

The newly-appointed judge is expected to take until at least the end of June 2015 to familiarise himself with the details of the case, causing yet another delay in the marathon trial.

Seselj was diagnosed with cancer last year.

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