Belgrade, warcrimes, verdict, Serbian, Tribunal: War crimes tribunal acquits firebrand Serbian politician Vojislav Seselj
Politics19:00 Mar. 31, 2016

War crimes tribunal acquits firebrand Serbian politician Vojislav Seselj

61-year-old found not guilty on three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes

In Belgrade, it was an event worth tuning in for. The United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague finally settled the case of Serbian politician Vojislav Seselj. The verdict – not guilty.

At the headquarters of the Serbian Radical Party Seselj held a press conference following the announcement. His defiant stance toward the court appears unchanged.

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Vojislav Seselj, leader of Serbian Radical Party: "There I defeated all false testimonials and exposed all forged documents. To tell you honestly, after I finished my job and won, I wasn't much interested in the delivered punishment, or the delivered verdict. I escaped without punishment, but maybe I could have received at least a little bit, so Serb enemies in Serbia and outside wouldn't be as furious."

Many in Belgrade welcome the court's verdict.

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Smilja, Belgrade Resident: "If he had been guilty, they would have convicted him. So, he wasn't guilty, but they held him so long. We're glad that he's been freed."

Seselj was in all was facing three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes. The verdict came after ten years of proceedings. It was the longest trial in the UN court's history.

Judge Jean-Claude Antonetti: "With this acquittal on all the nine counts of the indictment the arrest warrant issued by the appeals chamber on June 17, 2015 is hereby rendered moot. Following this verdict Vojislav Seselj is now a free man."

The 61-year-old Seselj was released from the custody of the International Criminal Tribunal in November 2014 due to terminal cancer. In March 2015 he was ordered to return to the Hague but refused to do so, and continued to hold nationalist rallies in Serbia. Many fear his release could mean return of the ultra-nationalism of the 1990s. But analysts says his far-right Serbian Radical Party is likely to win a minimal amount of votes in parliamentary elections in April 2016.

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