Seselj in the footsteps of Milosevic

06 November 2006 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

Since the death of Slobodan Milosevic, ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj is without doubt the best-known accused standing before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). On 3 November, Seselj - the "scandal monger", as he called himself during his testimony in the Milosevic trial - became suddenly very polite in court. Although on 20 October the court authorized him to defend himself, the Appeals Chamber warned Seselj that "should his self-representation substantially obstruct the proper and expeditious proceedings in this case, the Trial Chamber will be justified in promptly assigning him counsel".

"A waste of time and energy", reacted some at the ICTY, who believed that Seselj would go back to causing a stir. Because of his contemptuous behavior, the Trial Chamber assigned British barrister David Hooper as "standby Counsel." Even before he arrived in The Hague on 24 February 2003, Seselj had written that former ICTY president Meron was a "genocidal Israeli diplomat," talked about "the jaws of the whore Carla del Ponte" (Chief Prosecutor) and the "lying Hague homosexual Geoffrey Nice" (Prosecutor in the Milosevic trial). Once he was imprisoned, he bombarded the Trial Chamber with submissions - about 200 to date - complaining about the robes of the judges which reminded him of the Catholic Inquisition, the Gestapo and the SS, and flatly refusing to use a computer or read any document not written in pure Serbian. Gradually his language became more raunchy. But the Trial Chamber became really worried when Seselj disclosed confidential information to his "legal team", which was not approved by the Registrar.

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