ICTY postpones Serb nationalist war crimes trial

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Wednesday postponed the trial of Serbian war crimes suspect and former nationalist politician Vojislav Seselj [BBC profile; ICTY case backgrounder] previously scheduled to begin on November 2, citing concerns that Seselj might not have time to adequately prepare a defense. An appeals panel of the court granted permission [JURIST report] for Seselj to serve as his own lawyer last week since Seselj had not been sufficiently warned that he could lose the right to self-representation prior to its removal, effectively reversing [text, PDF] the decision of an ICTY trial court to remove his right to self-representation [JURIST report]. According to the ruling, the ICTY must appoint a lawyer to help Seselj if necessary or to assume responsibilities if he acts inappropriately at trial. A new commencement date for the trial has not yet been determined.

Seselj was indicted by the tribunal in 2003 and charged [indictment, PDF] in connection with his role in establishing rogue paramilitary units affiliated with the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party [party website]. Those units are believed to have massacred and otherwise persecuted Croats and other non-Serbs in the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. Seselj has pleaded not guilty to the charges, on which prosecutors have indicated they anticipate their case to take approximately six months. AP has more.

 

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