MAR
30
UN war crimes tribunal orders Serb nationalist back to detention
Belgrade (dpa) - The UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Monday revoked the provisional release of the Serb nationalist politician Vojislav Seselj and ordered his return to detention in The Hague. Ruling on an appeal by the prosecution against Seselj's release, an ICTY appeals chamber ordered the court trying his case to "immediately" return Seselj to the tribunal's detention unit and then hold a new hearing on his possible release. Seselj said that he will not return voluntarily, forcing the Serbian government to arrest and hand him over. "Let police come. It will not be an easy arrest," he told Serbia's largest daily, Vecernje Novosti. The ICTY provisionally released Seselj in November to seek cancer treatment. He has spent nearly 12 years in detention without a verdict, although his oft-delayed trial began in 2007. Seselj, 60, handed himself over in February 2003 to face charges of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war. He is alleged to have promoted ethnic violence during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that the government will "make a statement" on the demand for Seselj's return in the coming days and blasted the ICTY ruling. "I am not in position to hide my anger in reaction to news of the immoral decision they reached," he told reporters. Serbia's official in charge of cooperation with ICTY, Rasim Ljajic, described the order for Seselj's return to detention as "peculiar and confusing." Now estranged from Seselj, Vucic was his follower for almost 20 years before splintering from the Radical Party (SRS) with the present Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and forming the current ruling Progressive Party. Seselj has returned to politics since leaving The Hague, resuming his populist rhetoric and possibly violating the conditions of his release. His once leading SRS has, however, meanwhile slipped to the margins. Serbia has had a difficult relationship with the ICTY since the UN formed it in 1993 to deal with the major actors and the atrocities they committed during wars in Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia from 1991 to 2001. Full cooperation with the tribunal - most of all the arrest and extradition of indicted suspects - was the key condition for Serbia's return from its isolation within the international community, after it spent most of the 1990s under sanctions imposed for its role in the conflicts. The country has handed over politicians such as former Serbian and Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, who died in ICTY detention nine years ago during his genocide trial. Because more Serbs were indicted and convicted than from any other ethnic group fighting in the former Yugoslavia, many Serbs believe that the ICTY is biased against them. Belgrade achieved compliance with ICTY with the May 2011 arrest of the Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, charged with genocide as the commander in the Srebrenica massacre.