With Seselj release, will ICTY's legacy lose its luster?

03 December 2014 by Sandra Milic, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Following the decision to provisionally release Serbian firebrand politician Vojislav Seselj on health grounds, pending judgment, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has come under scrutiny, with many fearing that the handling of this case could cast a shadow over the court’s legacy.

Supporters await the arrival of Vojislav Seselj  at Belgrade airport after his provisional release in November 2014
Image caption: 
Supporters await the arrival of Vojislav Seselj at Belgrade airport after his provisional release in November 2014 (Photo: Joost van Egmond)

Seselj was tried for war crimes he allegedly committed in Bosnia, Croatia and the Serbian province of Vojvodina between 1991 and 1993. Acting as his own counsel, Seselj used the trial as a platform for his ultra-nationalist rhetoric. He insulted judges, intimidated witnesses, went on a hunger strike and accused the court of trying to kill him.

A verdict was originally set for October 2013, but got postponed last minute when one of the three judges was disqualified for possible bias. The magistrate was replaced, but his successor needs until mid-2015 to read through all the court documents. 

Meanwhile, Seselj, diagnosed with cancer, is seriously ill. The ICTY last month [IJT-170] decided of its own accord to release him on health grounds. No conditions were placed upon Seselj other then to not influence victims and witnesses and to appear before the tribunal when ordered. 

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