The interior ministry banned a rally that Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj planned in the village of Hrtkovci, where he made nationalist speeches in 1992 that got him convicted of war crimes.
Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said on Friday that no gatherings will be allowed in Hrtkovci on May 6, the anniversary of Seselj’s inflammatory anti-Croat speech in the same village in 1992 that led to his conviction by the UN war crimes court in The Hague.
“Several political organisations have announced rallies. Staging any gatherings in Hrtkovci will not be allowed,” Stefanovic said, Beta news agency reported.
Opposition parties said they would hold counter-demonstrations after Seselj’s ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party announced its rally in Hrtkovci.
But Seselj said that he will defy the ban and stage the rally anyway.
“We are going, and the government has no reason to ban it,” Seselj, who is an MP in the Serbian parliament, told BIRN.
Asked about possible incidents caused by his defiance of the ban, Seselj responded: “Why would I care?”
“We were the first to schedule [a gathering in Hrtkovci]; the authorities can ban the others,” he added.
Incidents involving the Radicals have increased in recent days after NGOs and opposition politicians started pointing out that Seselj’s recent war crimes sentence legally disqualifies him from serving as an MP.
The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals on April 11 sentenced Seselj in absentia to ten years in prison for inciting crimes with nationalist speeches in the Vojvodina region of Serbia during the war in 1992.
His speeches calling for the expulsion of Croats from Hrtkovci were followed by violence against Croat civilians.