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Vojislav Seselj’s Plea to Appeal Conviction Rejected Again

5. February 2019.14:27
The president of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals rejected a request from Serbian Radical Party leader Seselj to allow him to appeal against a second-instance verdict convicting him of persecuting Croats in Serbia in 1992. The president of the Hague-based Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, Carmel Agius, has rejected a request from Serbian nationalist politician Vojislav Seselj to be allowed to file an appeal against the second-instance verdict convicting him of persecuting Croats in the Serbian village of Hrtkovci in 1992.

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In his decision, Agius said that, Seselj failed to prove that his rights were violated by the UN court’s statute, which does not allow second-instance verdicts to be appealed.

Seselj first filed his request to the court’s appeals chamber, this was rejected. He then asked Agius to grant him the right to appeal.

In his request, Seselj said that the right to appeal a verdict of conviction was “an elementary right” which must not be denied to anyone.

“The verdict pronounced by the Mechanism constitutes a legal precedent… It is inconceivable that a person, who is found guilty and sentenced for a crime, has no right to appeal such a decision,” Seselj argued.

He argued that because he was acquitted under the first-instance verdict, the second-instance verdict that found him guilty and sentenced him to ten years in prison should not have been considered final and should have been possible to appeal.

In March last year, Seselj was found guilty by the Hague court of inciting deportations, persecution and other inhumane acts against Croats, such as crimes against humanity, in a speech that he made in the village of Hrtkovci in northern Serbia on May 6, 1992.

He was also found guilty of the persecution of Croats living in Hrtkovci by “violating their right to security”.

However he was cleared of wartime crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.

The nationalist politician was sentenced to ten years in prison but was not jailed because of the time he had already spent in custody in The Hague since 2003.

Seselj, who is an MP in the Serbian parliament, was not present in the courtroom for the verdict.

He was temporarily released for cancer treatment in November 2014 and refused to return to The Hague after that. Serbia refused to extradite him, despite an Interpol ‘red notice’ for his arrest.

After returning to Serbia, Seselj resumed his political career, held a series of nationalist rallies, and repeatedly mocked the Hague Tribunal in public.

Denis Džidić

This post is also available in: Bosnian