EU parliament urges Serbia to crack down on war crimes suspect
The European Parliament on Thursday urged Belgrade, a candidate for EU membership, to crack down on Serb ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj who was released by a UN war crimes court for cancer treatment.
In a resolution adopted in the French city of Strasbourg, the parliament said it deplores Seselj's "provocative public activities and wartime rhetoric since his provisional release" two weeks ago.
It said it condemns "Seselj's warmongering, incitement to hatred and enouragement of territorial claims and his attempts to derail Serbia from its European path."
It also "asks the Serbian authorities to investigate whether Seselj has violated Serbian law" and asks Belgrade to "fully apply legislation outlawing hate speech, discrimination and incitement to violence."
Seselj, who had spent almost 12 years in detention before he went home on November 12, is awaiting a verdict from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague over charges he incited massacres during the 1990s Balkan wars.
His release provoked outrage among victims of the wars in Bosnia and Croatia.
Seselj's trial -- often marked by his virulent outbursts against the judges -- wrapped up in March 2012.
The 60-year-old pleaded not guilty to nine counts including murder, torture, cruel treatment and wanton destruction of villages.
Since his return, he has fired off a series of inflammatory comments, vowing to unseat his once closest allies who are now in power in Serbia.
He also attracted about 10,000 ultra-nationalist supporters at a Belgrade rally where he called for Serbia to turn towards Russia instead of "its enemies" in the West.
The parliament also complained about what it called "the absence of an adequate political reaction and legal response by the Serbian authorities" toward Seselj's behaviour.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic condemned the resolution, calling it "insulting and disturbing" for his country.
"This is either hypocrisy of unimaginable proportions or a wish to harm Serbia," Vucic, once Seselj's close ally, told reporters in Belgrade.
He stressed it had not been Serbia's decision to free Seselj.
"Who released him from The Hague? Us or you? Did you ask us anything about it? Well, you didn't," he said.
EU parliament adopted the resolution a day after Croatian lawmakers unanimously passed a similar document calling the UN court to take Seselj back into custody over the "hatred and intolerance" he has spread since his release.
Leaders of the nation of 7.2 million began talks in January on accession to the 28-member bloc, in which Serbia agreed to gradually bring its policies into line with EU norms.
© 2014 AFP