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Serbian Radical Indicted

U.N. war crimes tribunal brings charges against ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj.

February 15, 2003|From Associated Press

THE HAGUE — The U.N. war crimes tribunal Friday indicted Serbian ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj, a key ally of ousted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, for alleged war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Seselj said he had known for weeks that the tribunal was preparing a warrant for his arrest.

"I will go on my own. I will not let anyone arrest me," Seselj told reporters in Belgrade, the Serbian capital. "I shall go when it pleases me." He said he booked a flight to the Netherlands for Feb. 24.

Prosecution spokeswoman Florence Hartmann said in The Hague that the indictment was confirmed by a tribunal judge Friday. She could not explain how Seselj had learned about the charges before they were made public.

The indictment, signed by chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte on Jan. 15, charges Seselj with eight counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of violations of the laws or customs of war. Each count is punishable by up to life imprisonment.

The indictment said Seselj, 48, incited ethnic hatred and encouraged his troops to commit violence against non-Serbs throughout the Balkans in the first half of the 1990s.

A staunch supporter of Milosevic's wartime policies during the bloody breakup of the Yugoslav federation, Seselj commanded paramilitary units known for atrocities against civilians.

But he has denied the general allegations that his troops committed war crimes, claiming that his volunteers were under army command.

U.N. prosecutors allege that he participated in a "joint criminal enterprise" aiming to expel large portions of the populations of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Vojvodina region in Serbia.

Seselj has declined to comment on the specific charges.

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