News 24 Aug 16

Croatia Threatens to Arrest Vojislav Seselj

Croatia’s prime minister warned that nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj, who says he has been given a Serbian diplomatic passport and plans to visit Zagreb, will be arrested if he enters the country.

Sasa Dragojlo
Seselj at a pro-Donald Trump protest during US Vice-President Joe Biden's recent Belgrade visit. Photo: Beta

Responding to the Serbian Radical Party leader and former war crimes defendant Seselj’s announcement that he has been given a diplomatic passport, Croatia’s outgoing Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said on Tuesday that if he tries to enter the country, he will be arrested.

“Vojislav Seselj is persona non grata in Croatia. He’s not welcome here. However, if he comes, he will be arrested,” Oreskovic told Croatian news portal

Seselj said on Tuesday that he had been issued a diplomatic passport as a Serbian MP, and that he would be “coming to Zagreb soon”.

“I hope that I, as a reputable Serbian diplomat, will not have any problems with the Croatian authorities,” Seselj wrote on Twitter.

He posted a photograph of the diplomatic passport on Twitter; the document describes Seselj as a “national delegate in the Serbian National Assembly”, and says that it was issued by the Serbian foreign ministry.

But the foreign ministry has not yet confirmed that it issued the passport to Seselj, although members of parliament in Serbia are eligible for diplomatic passports.

The Hague Tribunal acquitted Seselj in March of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes during the 1990s conflicts in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, but the prosecution has announced that it will appeal.

His acquittal caused angry reactions in Croatia and sparked an exchange of harsh words between officials from Zagreb and Belgrade.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic also appealed to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, asking for the acquittal to be overturned.

Many human rights groups and international legal experts, including the International Bar Association, have questioned the verdict.

The Hague Tribunal prosecution asked the UN court’s appeals chamber in May to either overturn Seselj’s acquittal, correct what it claimed were errors in the verdict and convict the nationalist politician, or send the case for a retrial.

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