Ailing accused war criminal Seselj heads for Serbia

12th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

Ailing Serb leader Vojislav Seselj has been released from the UN Yugoslav war crimes tribunal and has left the Netherlands en route for Serbia, the court said on Wednesday.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) last week ordered his release so he could return home for cancer treatment as he awaits a verdict on alleged war crimes during the Balkan wars.

"Vojislav Seselj has now departed the Netherlands on provisional release," the ICTY said in a statement.

Judges granted his release "due to the deteriorated health state of the accused and to give him the opportunity to get the treatment in the environment which would be the most appropriate".

Seselj, accused of leading ethnic Serb volunteers in persecuting Croats, Muslims and other non-Serbs during the 1990s wars, underwent colon cancer surgery in December.

Serbia has said it would allow the return of the ultra-nationalist firebrand, who was repeatedly been found guilty of contempt during his trial.

Serbia earlier this month told the court that it was prepared to receive Seselj provided he accept the conditions of his release, which the Serb ultranationalist has previously refused to do.

ICTY spokeswoman Magdalena Spalinska said the tribunal had "not found it necessary to consult the accused whether he will accept these conditions as the judges deemed there was no reason to believe he would not respect such conditions".

However, judge Mandiaye Niang disagreed with the release, saying judges should have consulted with Seselj about the conditions of his release.

Niang said the court should have imposed a monitoring system "to ensure that the accused returns to the tribunal and that he does not contact victims and witnesses".

Last month the 60-year-old Seselj's Radical Serb Party (SRS) lashed out at his treatment by the ICTY, saying cancer had spread to the 60-year-old leader's liver and called for his immediate release.

Seselj has pleaded not guilty to nine counts including murder, torture, cruel treatment and wanton destruction of villages.

Prosecutors said Seselj, a prominent radical politician, recruited and indoctrinated volunteers and paramilitaries, known as "Seselj's men" who committed atrocities during the two Balkan conflicts.

The ultra-nationalist leader voluntarily surrendered to the ICTY in 2003 and went on trial four years later.

He was in custody in the Netherlands.

© 2014 AFP

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