UN court's verdict on radical Serb leader due March 31

12th February 2016, Comments 0 comments

The UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia announced Friday it will hand down its verdict in the long-running case against ailing Serb ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj next month.

Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) also ordered that Seselj should appear before them on March 31 to hear the judgement in person.

Seselj, a firebrand Serb nationalist, is accused of leading Serb volunteers to "cleanse" large parts of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia's northern Vojvodina region during the Balkans wars which erupted amid the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

More than 130,000 people died and millions of others were left homeless.

He faces three counts of crimes against humanity, including persecution, deportation and forcible transfers and six other charges including murder and torture.

Seselj surrendered to the ICTY in February 2003 and was transferred the same month to the tribunal based in The Hague.

The trial, which began in 2007, wrapped up in March 2012. Seselj was then allowed to travel back to Serbia in late 2014 to undergo cancer treatment pending a verdict.

But since his release, Seselj has repeatedly lashed out at the tribunal, vowing not to return for his sentencing or to serve any time, as well as resuming his fiery nationalist rhetoric.

Presiding judge Jean-Claude Antonetti fixed March 31 at 10 am for the verdict.

He ordered "the Serbian authorities to make every provision needed to ensure that the accused appears on the day that the verdict is pronounced."

If there are any "difficulties executing the order" then Belgrade must advise the court before March 15, Antonetti said in his order.

The decision to hand down the verdict comes only days after war crimes judges accused Belgrade of failing to cooperate with the tribunal by not arresting three suspects in a separate contempt case arising out of Seselj's trial.

© 2016 AFP

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