Seselj: trial of strength opens

05 November 2007 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

After four and a half years of proceedings, the trial of Vojislav Seselj will open at The Hague on November 7. For the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the former president of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) represents the most important political figure to be tried since the death of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic in March 2006. One year ago, the appeals chamber confirmed that Seselj had the right to self representation. But since then, the accused has refused to supply information regarding his financial situation and the tribunal is refusing to reimburse his defense fees.

On October 26, Jean-Claude Antonetti was appointed president of the trial chamber which will deal the case against Seselj, who is accused of crimes against humanity and violations of the rules of war. Named presiding judge of the pre-trial judge in this case at the end of 2006, after the politician had prevented his trial from starting with a hunger strike, Antonetti succeeded at "stunning" him, in Seselj's own words. Notably, the behavior of Seselj has recently become less unpredictable. Notably, the judge has stated that he always agreed with Seselj's request for self representation and for the tribunal to fund this defense. The judge also justified Seselj's hunger strike, saying Seselj "felt like he was up against a wall and not being listened to".

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