UN tribunal frees ailing accused Serb war criminal Seselj

6th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

The UN Yugoslav war crimes tribunal on Thursday ordered the provisional release of Serbian ultra-nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj on health grounds.

Seselj, accused of murder, torture and other crimes during the persecution of Croats, Muslims and other non-Serbs during the 1990s wars in Croatia and Bosnia, can now return to Serbia pending his verdict.

Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) granted the 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," spokeswoman Magdalena Spalinska told AFP.

Seselj is barred from contact with witnesses or victims and must return to the tribunal when requested, Spalinska said.

The ICTY 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," she added.

Last month Seselj's ultra nationalist Radical Serb Party (SRS) lashed out at treatment by the ICTY after Seselj underwent colon cancer surgery in December last year.

They said the illness had now spread to his liver and called for his immediate release.

Seselj, 60, is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed mainly by his ethnic Serb volunteers between 1991-93 during the former Yugoslavia's bitter civil war that followed its break-up in 1991.

He has pleaded not guilty to nine counts including murder, torture, cruel treatment and wanton destruction of villages during the persecution of Croats, Muslims and other non-Serbs in the wars in the 1990s wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

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

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

© 2014 AFP

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