Seselj in the footsteps of Milosevic


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.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.