News 24 Dec 14

Hague Prosecutor Rejects Seselj’s ‘Wild’ Bias Claims

Hague Tribunal chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz rejected Serbian war crimes defendant Vojislav Seselj’s allegation that he is a political tool of the EU and Croatia and should be punished.

Milka Domanovic
BIRN
Belgrade
Serge Brammertz. Photo: Beta.

Brammertz on Wednesday described Seselj’s allegations as baseless and “wild” after the Serbian Radical Party leader, who is on temporary release from his war crimes trial, called the prosecutor politically biased and asked the Hague Tribunal to punish him.

Seselj filed a motion to the UN-backed court after Brammertz asked for the nationalist leader’s temporary release for cancer treatment to be revoked.

But Brammertz argued that his request was legally sound because Seselj has said he will not return voluntarily for the verdict in his trial.

“The prosecution’s motion to revoke Seselj’s provisional release was properly grounded on Seselj’s own public statements, which undermine the basis for his provisional release,” Brammertz said.

He said that Seselj had undermined the conditions for his temporary release by “his repeated statements that he will not voluntarily return to the Tribunal and [his] threats against people who cooperate with the prosecution”.

“Seselj’s wild claims that the motion is based on improper motivations fail to recognise that the arguments do not rest on the ‘views and opinions’ of his political foes, but rather on his own utterances,” Brammertz added.

The Serbian Radical Party leader filed his motion on Tuesday asking the court to “rigorously punish prosecutor Brammertz”.

Seselj said in the motion that Brammertz was being used as a political instrument of the EU and Croatian politicians, after a European parliament resolution and a declaration by the Croatian parliament declaration condemning his nationalist rhetoric since his release.

Seselj had been in custody since 2003, when he voluntarily surrendered. He is on trial for wartime crimes in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia.

The verdict in his case was scheduled for October 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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