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UN judge overturns acquittal of Serbian politician, handing down 10-year sentence

April 11, 16:35 UTC+3

The Appeals Chamber in The Hague has quashed the acquittal of leader of the Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Seselj and sentenced him to ten years in prison

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Vojislav Seselj

Vojislav Seselj

© AP Photo/Toussaint Kluiters, Pool

THE HAGUE, April 11. /TASS/. The Appeals Chamber of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague has quashed the acquittal of leader of the Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Seselj and sentenced him to ten years in prison. Presiding Judge Theodor Meron announced the decision to this effect on Wednesday.

According to Meron, the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had made a number of errors. That concerns, in particular, the refusal to hold Seselj liable for his speech in the village of Hrtkovci (Serbia) on May 6, 1992, in which he called for the expulsion of the non-Serb population.

The Appeals Chamber also agreed with some other arguments provided by the prosecutors and, having taken them into account, found Seselj guilty on some counts in the crimes against humanity charge, that is, persecution and deportation. The judges decided, however, that Seselj, contrary to persecutors’ statements, was not guilty of violating the laws and customs of war on six counts.

"The Appeals Chamber hereby sentences Seselj to ten years in prison," Meron pronounced the verdict. However, the judge added that the "the sentence is being counted as time served" due to the fact that the veteran Serbian politician had been kept in custody in a detention center from February 24, 2003, to November 6, 2014.

Seselj who currently lives in Serbia, was not present at the hearings. He earlier stated on numerous occasions that he has no intention of returning to The Hague. The prosecutors at the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals demanded 28 years in prison for Seselj.

Vojislav Seselj voluntarily surrendered to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on February 24, 2003. He was charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed from 1991 to 1993 in Croatia, Vojvodina (Serbia), Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has been in Serbia since November 2014 where he was allowed to travel for health reasons. The Serbian politician was acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in March 2016.

The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals was established by the UN Security Council’s decision to complete the work launched by the ICTY (which formally closed on December 31, 2017) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (which closed on December 31, 2015).

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