News 26 May 15

Serbia Told to Send Seselj to The Hague

The UN-backed war crimes court has told the Belgrade authorities to send Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj back to detention after he breached the terms of his temporary release.

Marija Ristic
Vojislav Seselj. Photo: Beta.

Two months after its initial decision to revoke war crimes defendant Seselj’s temporary release for cancer treatment, the appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has asked the Serbian Justice Ministry to send him back to the UN detention centre in the Netherlands.

The Justice Ministry told BIRN on Tuesday that it received the request on Monday evening, and will now send it to the government, which will then “take a stance in relation to that”.

The ministry also said the document is confidential and that the government will decide how much of it to make public at a later stage.

Seselj, who is on trial for wartime crimes in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia but returned to Belgrade after being granted temporary release on humanitarian grounds in November.

The nationalist party chief is being recalled to custody for breaching the terms of his release after he stated several times that he would not return to the court for the verdict in his trial.

Since returning to Belgrade in November, he has led nationalist protests and made a series of hardline statements that have angered war victims.

Seselj on Monday reiterated that he will not return to The Hague voluntarily.

“Ask the government of Serbia what will it do. I have already said what I have said – I am not going voluntarily, but I won’t run away. I will continue my activities as if nothing has happened,” he said.

If Seselj doesn’t surrender voluntarily, an additional arrest warrant needs to be issued. The procedure may take to two weeks, as according to Serbian law, the authorities need to determine his identity and only then make a decision to extradite him. Seselj also has a right to appeal against such a decision.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that Serbia will act according to the law, but that the country is not an international delivery service.

“Serbia is not Fedex or DHL,” Vucic told B92 TV.

“We don’t want to endanger Serbia’s European future, but we also don’t want to participate in immoral decisions. They will have to explain how sick he is, and how he got better… Seselj is receiving chemotherapy here. What will happen if he doesn’t receive it there [in The Hague]? Will the government of Serbia be a murderer for sending him there?” he asked.

Seselj had been in custody since 2003, when he voluntarily surrendered.

The verdict in his case was scheduled for October 2013, 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 this year to familiarise himself with details of the case, causing yet another delay in the marathon trial.

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