ICTY: Messy acquittal ends difficult Seselj trial

31 March 2016 by Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Serb ultra-nationalist politician Vojislav Seselj was acquitted Thursday of all nine charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes and is now a free man presiding judge Jean-Claude Antonetti of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ruled. Seselj, already provisionally released on health grounds, was not present in court.

Serb ultra-nationalist politician Vojislav Seselj (Photo: Twitter/@seselj_vojislav)
Image caption: 
Serbian ultra-nationalist politician Vojislav Seselj in a picture he posted on his Twitter feed ahead of Thursday's ruling (Photo: Twitter/@seselj_vojislav)

The acquittal was met with amazement and frustration by observers and legal scholars because the reasoning behind it seems to disregard many past decisions by the court.Marc Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association told, Radio Free Europe the judgement contained “errors of fact and errors of law”.

In a reaction prosecutor Serge Brammertz said the verdict “departs from the normal jurisprudence of the tribunal” and added his office was studying the full judgement and dissenting opinions to see if they would file an appeal. 

Seselj was tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity he allegedly committed in Bosnia, Croatia and the Serbian province of Vojvodina between 1991 and 1993 as part of a joint criminal enterprise with Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic [IJT-191] among others. Seselj recruited and funded volunteers who fought as paramilitaries in Bosnia and Croatia.

Unusual judgement

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