1 Wednesday, 26 February 2003
2 [Initial Appearance]
3 [Open Session]
4 [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 1.20 p.m.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good afternoon. Please be seated. May I ask
7 Madam Registrar to call the case, please.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honour. This is IT-03-67-I,
9 the Prosecutor versus Vojislav Seselj.
10 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And the appearances, please.
11 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Good afternoon, Your Honour. For the
12 Prosecution, trial attorney Daniel Saxon, case manager Kimberly Fleming,
13 and my name is Hildegard Uertz-Retzlaff.
14 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. On the side of the Defence I can see
15 no Defence counsel.
16 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I have decided to defend myself.
17 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I give you the floor immediately. I just was
18 announcing that, only a few minutes ago, I received your letter translated
19 into English, informing us that you decided to defend yourself in the
20 proceedings which, as you state, we are preparing for you. You continue,
21 stating: "I insist that you submit all court documents and Prosecution
22 material to me personally at exclusively in the Serbian language." We
23 have received this. We have to come back to the question of Defence
24 counsel later.
25 You, Dr. Seselj, have decided yourself to come voluntarily to The
1 Hague from Belgrade in order to rebut the allegations raised against you.
2 These allegations are contained in the indictment dated the 15th day of
3 January, 2003, reviewed and confirmed by another Judge of this Tribunal
4 the 14th of February, 2003.
5 Dr. Seselj, the basis for the fact that after your arrival in The
6 Hague you were arrested at the same time, the same day, that was Monday
7 the 24th of February, 2003, you were brought to the United Nations
8 Detention Unit. The underlying reason for this and the legal basis for
9 this is an arrest warrant dated the 14th of February, 2003, issued by a
10 permanent Judge of this Tribunal.
11 The President of this Tribunal has assigned only yesterday this
12 case to Trial Chamber II. I am presiding over. In this capacity,
13 Dr. Seselj, I would like to ask you several questions. The first
14 questions are only for the purposes of the identification, having nothing
15 to do with the case as such, especially not with the charges.
16 Would you please be so kind and state your full name, including
17 all first names and last names, for the record.
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Vojislav Seselj.
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And your father's and mother's name,
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Nikola and Danica.
22 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: What is the date and place of your birth?
23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] The 11th of October, 1954, in
25 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: What was your profession or occupation before
1 you came to the Netherlands?
2 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I am a doctor of law. I am a full
3 Professor at the Faculty of Law, and I was a member of the Republican
4 Parliament and the Federal Parliament as well.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And your last place of residence,
6 including the exact address.
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Belgrade, Batajnica, Posavskog
8 Odreda number 36.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And finally, are you married and do you have
11 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, I am married, and I have four
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you, Dr. Seselj.
14 The proceedings today are your initial appearance before this
15 Tribunal under Rule 62 of our Rules of Procedure and Evidence. It seems
16 to be a formality only, but you, as a lawyer, know that it's very
17 important -- a very important point in time, setting, to a certain extent,
18 the course for the entire procedure. The underlying reasons for this
19 procedure is the following: The Prosecution has asked a Judge of this
20 Tribunal to confirm an indictment against you on a prima facie basis in
21 your absence. At the same time, there was a request for an arrest warrant
22 forming the basis for your deprivation of liberty. Normally, the other
23 party - in this case you, Dr. Seselj - would have a right to be informed
24 and heard before a decision is taken. However, it is for the nature of an
25 arrest warrant that it is not possible to hear a wanted person beforehand.
1 Today you will have the possibility to contest, thus, the indictment and
2 the deprivation of liberty.
3 For a better understanding of what's going on, let me give you the
4 following informations before reading the indictment.
5 Dr. Seselj, it's your right to remain silent, as it is enshrined
6 in Article 14 para 3(G) of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and
7 Political Rights. No inference to your disadvantage can be drawn if you
8 remain totally silent. The only inference can be drawn -- can be found in
9 Rule 62(iv) of our Rules of Procedure and Evidence where you can read that
10 if the accused fails to enter a plea in the initial or any further
11 appearance, the Judge shall enter a plea of not guilty on the accused's
13 But I have to warn you at the same time, everything you may say in
14 courtroom may be used even against you in evidence.
15 It is only fair to inform you about the other side of the same
16 coin. It is a general rule in all courtrooms of this world that any kind
17 of substantial cooperation would be for your advantage. In case it will
18 not come to a sentencing stage, your cooperation will be in your own
19 interests to speed up proceedings. In case - and I have to emphasise only
20 in case - it would come to a sentencing stage, such kind of substantial
21 cooperation will always be held in your favour.
22 Dr. Seselj, did you understand this first part of the admonition?
23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I understood it.
24 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Let's now come to the second part.
25 Rule 45 of our Rules of Procedure and Evidence provides in paragraph (A)
1 and (G) the following: (A) Whenever the interests of justice so demand,
2 counsel shall be assigned to the suspect or accused who lacks the means to
3 remunerate such counsel.
4 And in (G) you can read: A suspect or accused electing to conduct
5 his or her own defence shall so notify the Registrar in writing at the
6 first opportunity.
7 Apparently you have chosen the latter option. I have,
8 nevertheless, to emphasise, in conclusion, that you are always entitled to
9 such counsel assigned to you, because no doubt it will facilitate your
10 defence, especially related to the extremely difficult legal questions,
11 even though you are acquainted with the law, you know the law, but as you
12 may know, we have to obey the rules of a hybrid set of rules for procedure
13 and evidence, predominantly coming from the common law system, and we
14 coming from a civil law system sometimes have to face additional problems
15 with these legal questions.
16 No doubt when it comes to the facts it's for you, and I have not
17 the slightest doubt that you are eloquent enough and have the rhetorical
18 capacities to express what you want related to the facts. But related to
19 the law, it could be to your advantage, in fact, to have a Defence
21 May I ask you whether there is any intention maybe to reverse your
22 decision or do you want additional time for your final decision whether or
23 not you want to have the assistance - I emphasise the assistance, it's not
24 an either/or - the assistance of Defence counsel?
25 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] My decision to defend myself is a
1 definite one. It is possible that I will engage an assistant and a legal
2 advisor who will never appear on my behalf in this courtroom. They will
3 never appear in this courtroom. I retain this exclusivity of appearing in
4 the courtroom on the side of the accused. However, there is no need for
5 me to engage a legal advisor or a legal assistant at any early date. Now
6 it is up to the Prosecution to act, and in the meantime, I will have
7 sufficient time to see whether I do need assistance.
8 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. As to the fact that in the moment
9 apparently in the absence of a Defence counsel it might be difficult for
10 you to act at all. Are you in possession of the Rules of Procedure and
11 Evidence dated the 12th of December, 2002?
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes. I received that. I received
13 all the relevant legal documents except for the text of Resolution 827
14 dated the 25th of May, 1993, and the text of Resolution 995, dated the 8th
15 of November, 1994. That is to say the Security Council Resolutions. And
16 I request that this be handed over to me as well so that my documentation
17 would be complete.
18 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: No doubt you will receive these requested
19 documents as soon as possible. Unfortunately, opposed to the Rules of
20 Procedure and Evidence, I would have before me also in B/C/S - it's only
21 in English - but you have the right to have these requested documents in a
22 language you understand.
23 Let us now hear the charges of the indictment of January 15
24 without the attachment. May I ask Madam Registrar please --
25 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I insist, I insist that the
1 indictment be read in its entirety, in accordance with Rule 62.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: No doubt you are entitled to do so. We then
3 will read the indictment in full, with all the annexes.
4 Any observations by the Prosecution?
5 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: No, Your Honour.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Let us please start with the -- the first part
7 and Annex I. And before we starting with Annex II, I want to ask the
8 Prosecution whether there is any problem when we read out the names of the
9 alleged victims in this case, but we'll come to the answer later.
10 May I ask Madam Registrar to start reading out slowly, please.
11 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honour. The Prosecutor of the
12 International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, pursuant to her
13 authority under Article 18 of the Statute of the International Criminal
14 Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, charges Vojislav Seselj with crimes
15 against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war as set forth
17 The accused Vojislav Seselj, son of Nikola Seselj, was born on 11
18 October, 1954 in Sarajevo, Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is a
19 graduate of the Faculty of Law of Sarajevo University. He holds a
20 Bachelor's degree, a Master's degree, and a Doctorate, obtained in 1976,
21 1978, and 1979 respectively. From 1981 to 1984, he worked as an assistant
22 professor, lecturing on political science at Sarajevo University.
23 Although he was originally a communist, Vojislav Seselj eventually
24 became critical of the communist regime in the former Yugoslavia and in
25 the early 1980s he developed close relations with a group of Serbian
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 nationalists. In 1984 he was convicted of counter-revolutionary
2 activities and sentenced to eight years of imprisonment. Upon the
3 commutation of the sentence by the Supreme Court of the Socialist Federal
4 Republic of Yugoslavia ("SFRY"), he was released in 1986.
5 After his release, Vojislav Seselj settled down in Belgrade and
6 continued to engage in nationalistic politics. In 1989 he travelled to
7 the USA and met the chairman of the movement of Chetniks in the free
8 world, Momcilo Djujic, who on the day of the 600th anniversary of the
9 battle of Kosovo, 28th June 1989, appointed him a Chetnik "Vojvoda",
10 meaning a "Duke" or leader. Following this appointment, Vojislav Seselj
11 travelled to the USA, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe, collecting
12 funds to support his nationalistic activities. On 23 January, 1990,
13 Vojislav Seselj became the leader of the Serbian Freedom Movement and on
14 14 March 1990, formed an alliance with Vuk Draskovic, another Serbian
15 nationalist, and started the Serbian Renewal Movement ("SPO").
16 In June 1990, Vojislav Seselj founded the Serbian National Renewal
17 Party, subsequently renamed the Serbian Chetnik Movement. In the
18 elections of December 1990, his party received almost 100.000 votes.
19 Shortly thereafter, the authorities of the SFRY banned the Serbian Chetnik
20 Movement. On 23 February, 1991, Vojislav Seselj was appointed president
21 of the newly founded Serbian Radical Party ("SRS"). In June 1991, he was
22 elected a member of the Assembly of the Republic of Serbia. In almost
23 daily rallies and election campaigns, he called for Serb unity and war
24 against Serbia's historic enemies, namely the ethnic Croat Muslim and
25 Albanian populations within the territories of the former Yugoslavia.
1 Additional relevant historical and political facts are set out in Annex I
2 to this indictment.
3 Individual Criminal Responsibility
4 Article 7(1) of the Statute of the Tribunal
5 Vojislav Seselj is individually criminally responsible for the
6 crimes referred to in Articles 3 and 5 of the Statute of the Tribunal and
7 described in this indictment, which he planned, ordered, instigated,
8 committed, or in whose planning, preparation, or execution he otherwise
9 aided and abetted. By using the word "committed" in this indictment, the
10 Prosecutor does not intend to suggest that the accused physically
11 committed all of the crimes charged personally. "Committed" as used in
12 this indictment includes the participation of Vojislav Seselj in a joint
13 criminal enterprise. By using the word "instigated", the Prosecution
14 charges that the accused Vojislav Seselj's speeches, communications, acts,
15 and/or omissions contributed to the perpetrators' decision to commit the
16 crimes alleged.
17 Vojislav Seselj participated in a joint criminal enterprise. The
18 purpose of this joint criminal enterprise was the permanent forcible
19 removal, through the commission of crimes in violation of Articles 3 and 5
20 of the Statute of the Tribunal, of a majority of the Croat, Muslim, and
21 other non-Serb populations from approximately one-third of the territory
22 of the Republic of Croatia, and large parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and
23 from parts of Vojvodina, in the Republic of Serbia, in order to make these
24 areas part of a new Serb-dominated state. With respect to Croatia, the
25 area included those regions that were referred to by Serb authorities as
1 the "SAO Krajina" (i.e. the Serb Autonomous Region of Krajina), the SAO
2 Western Slavonia, the SAO Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem, after 10
3 December 1991, the SAO Krajina became known as the "RSK" (Republic of
4 Serbian Krajina); on 26 February 1992, the SAO Western Slavonia and SAO
5 Slavonia, Baranja, and Western Srem joined the RSK as well as the
6 Dubrovnik Republic. With respect to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the areas
7 included Bosanski Samac and Zvornik.
8 The crimes enumerated in this indictment were within the object of
9 the joint criminal enterprise and Vojislav Seselj had the knowledge and
10 intention necessary for the commission of each of the crimes.
11 Alternatively, the crimes enumerated in counts 1 to 9 and 12 to 15 of the
12 indictment were the natural and foreseeable consequences of the execution
13 of the object of the joint criminal enterprise and Vojislav Seselj was
14 aware that such crimes were the possible outcome of the execution of the
15 joint criminal enterprise.
16 The aforesaid joint criminal enterprise came into existence before
17 1 August 1991 and continued until at least December 1995. Vojislav Seselj
18 participated in the joint criminal enterprise until September 1993 when he
19 had a conflict with Slobodan Milosevic. Vojislav Seselj worked in concert
20 with several individuals in the joint criminal enterprise to succeed in
21 its objective. Each participant or co-perpetrator within the joint
22 criminal enterprise played his or her role or roles that significantly
23 contributed to the objective of the enterprise. Other individuals
24 participating in this joint criminal enterprise included Slobodan
25 Milosevic, General Veljko Kadijevic, General Blagoje Adzic, Colonel Ratko
1 Mladic, Jovica Stanisic, Franko Simatovic also known as Frenki, Radovan
2 Stojicic also known as Badza, Milan Martic, Goran Hadzic, Radovan
3 Karadzic, Momcilo Krajisnik, Biljana Plavsic, Zeljko Raznjatovic also
4 known as Arkan, and other members of the Yugoslav People's Army ("JNA"),
5 later the Yugoslav army ("VJ"), the newly formed Serb Territorial Defence
6 ("TO") of Croatia and of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the army of Republika Srpska
7 Krajina ("SVK"), and the army of Republika Srpska and the TOs of Serbia
8 and of Montenegro, local Serb, Republic of Serbia, and Republika Srpska
9 police forces ("MUP forces"), including the state security, the DB branch
10 of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia and Serb special
11 police forces of the SAO Krajina and the RSK commonly referred to as
12 Martic's Police, "Marticevci", the SAO Krajina Police, and members of the
13 Serbian, Montenegrin, Bosnian and Croatian Serb paramilitary forces and
14 volunteer units including "Chetniks" or "Seseljevci" (translated into
15 English as "Seselj's men") (collectively, "Serb forces") and other
16 political figures from the SFRY, the Republic of Serbia, the Republic of
17 Montenegro and the Bosnian and Croatian Serb leadership.
18 Vojislav Seselj, as president of the SRS, was a prominent
19 political figure in the SFRY, the FRY, in the time period relevant to this
20 indictment. He propagated a policy of uniting all Serbian lands in a
21 homogenous Serbian state. He defined the so-called
22 Karlobag-Ogulin-Karlovac-Virovitica line as the western border of this new
23 Serbian state (which he called "Greater Serbia") which included Serbia,
24 Montenegro, Macedonia, and considerable parts of Croatia and Bosnia and
1 Vojislav Seselj, acting alone and in concert with other members of
2 the joint criminal enterprise participated in the joint criminal
3 enterprise in the following ways:
4 A. He participated in the recruitment, formation, financing,
5 supply, support, and direction of Serbian volunteers connected to the SRS,
6 commonly known as "Chetniks" or "Seseljevci." These volunteer units were
7 created and supported to assist in the execution of the joint criminal
8 enterprise through the commission of crimes in violation of Articles 3 and
9 5 of the Statute of the Tribunal.
10 B. He made inflammatory speeches in the media, during public
11 events and during visits to the volunteer units and other Serb forces in
12 Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, instigating those forces to commit
13 crimes in violation of the Articles 3 and 5 of the Statute of the
15 C. He espoused and encouraged the creation of a homogenous
16 Greater Serbia encompassing the territories specified in this indictment
17 by violence and thereby participated in war propaganda and incitement of
18 hatred towards non-Serb people.
19 D. In public speeches he called for the expulsion of Croat
20 civilians from parts of Vojvodina region in Serbia and thus instigated his
21 followers and the local authorities to engage in a persecution campaign
22 against the local Croat population.
23 E. He participated in the planning and preparation of the
24 takeover of villages in the two SAOs in Croatia and in the municipalities
25 of Bosanski Samac and Zvornik in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the subsequent
1 forcible removal of the majority of the non-Serb population from these
3 F. He participated in the provision of financial, material,
4 logistical, and political support necessary for such takeovers. He
5 obtained this support, with the help of Slobodan Milosevic, from the
6 Serbian authorities, and from Serbs living abroad where he collected funds
7 to support the aim of the joint criminal enterprise.
8 G. He recruited Serbian volunteers connected to the SRS and
9 indoctrinated them with his extreme ethnic rhetoric so they engaged in the
10 forcible removal of the non-Serb population in the targeted territories
11 through the commission of crimes as specified in this indictment with
12 particular violence and brutality.
13 Vojislav Seselj knowingly and wilfully participated in the joint
14 criminal enterprise sharing the intent of other participants of the joint
15 criminal enterprise or being aware of the foreseeable consequences of
16 their actions. On this basis, he bears individual criminal responsibility
17 for the crimes under Article 7(1) of the Statute of the Tribunal, in
18 addition to his responsibility under the same Article for having planned,
19 ordered, instigated, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in the
20 planning, preparation, and execution of those crimes.
21 General Legal Allegations
22 At all times relevant to this indictment, a state of armed
23 conflict existed in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. A nexus existed
24 between the state of armed conflict and the alleged crimes in Croatia,
25 Bosnia and Herzegovina, and parts of Vojvodina, Serbia.
1 At all times relevant to this indictment, Vojislav Seselj was
2 required to abide by the laws and customs governing the conduct of armed
4 Conduct charged as crimes against humanity was part of a
5 widespread or systematic attack directed against the Croat, Muslim, and
6 other non-Serb civilian populations within large areas of Croatia, Bosnia
7 and Herzegovina and Vojvodina, Serbia.
8 The Charges
9 Count 1
11 From on or about the 1st of August, 1991 until at least September
12 1993, Vojislav Seselj, acting individually or in concert with known and
13 unknown members of the joint criminal enterprise, planned, ordered,
14 instigated, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning,
15 preparation, or execution of persecutions of Croat, Muslim and other
16 non-Serb civilian populations in the territories of the SAO Western
17 Slavonia and the SAO SBWS (Slavonia, Baranja, and Western Srem), and in
18 the municipalities of Bosanski Samac and Zvornik in Bosnia and Herzegovina
19 and parts of Vojvodina in Serbia.
20 Throughout this period, Serb forces, comprising JNA (and
21 subsequently the VJ) units, local Serb TO units (which were subsequently
22 transformed in the army of the RSK ("SVK"), and the army of Republika
23 Srpska ("VRS"), and TO units from Serbia and Montenegro, local Serb and
24 Republic of Serbia MUP police units and volunteer and paramilitary units,
25 including volunteers recruited and/or instigated by Vojislav Seselj,
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 attacked and took control of towns and villages in these territories.
2 After the takeover, these Serb forces, in cooperation with the local Serb
3 authorities, established a regime of persecutions designed to drive the
4 non-Serb civilian population from these territories.
5 These persecutions were committed on political, racial, and
6 religious grounds and included:
7 A. The extermination or murder of many Croat, Muslim, and other
8 non-Serb civilians, including women and elderly persons in the
9 municipality of Vukovar and the villages of Vocin, Hum, Bokane, and
10 Kraskovic in Croatia, in the municipalities of Bosanski Samac and Zvornik
11 in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
12 B. The prolonged and routine imprisonment and confinement of
13 Croat, Muslim, and other non-Serb civilians in the detention facilities
14 within Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, including prison camps in
15 Vukovar in and near Vocin and in Bosanski Samac and Zvornik.
16 C. The establishment and perpetuation of inhumane living
17 conditions for Croat, Muslim, and other non-Serb civilian detainees within
18 the detention facilities referred to.
19 D. The repeated torture, beatings and killings of Croat, Muslim,
20 and other non-Serb civilian detainees in the said detection facilities.
21 E. The prolonged and frequent forced labour of Croat, Muslim, and
22 other non-Serb civilians detained in the said detection facilities or
23 under house arrest in their respective homes in Vukovar, Vocin, Bosanski
24 Samac, and Zvornik. The forced labour included digging of graves, loading
25 of ammunition for the Serb forces, digging of trenches, and other forms of
1 manual labour at the frontlines.
2 F. The sexual assaults of Croat, Muslim and other non-Serb
3 civilians by Serb soldiers during capture and in the detention facilities.
4 G. The imposing of restrictive and discriminatory measures
5 against the Croat, Muslim and other non-Serb civilian populations,
6 including persons in Vocin in Croatia and Bosanski Samac and Zvornik in
7 Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in parts of Vojvodina, Serbia, such as
8 restriction of movement; removal from positions of authority in local
9 government institutions and the police; dismissal from jobs; denial of
10 medical care, and arbitrary searches of homes.
11 H. The torture, beating and robbing of Croat, Muslim and other
12 non-Serb civilians.
13 I. The deportation or forcible transfer of tens of thousands of
14 Croat, Muslim and other non-Serb civilians from the territories as
15 specified above, and from parts of Vojvodina, Serbia.
16 J. The deliberate destruction of homes, other public and private
17 property, cultural institutions, historic monuments and sacred sites of
18 the Croat, Muslim, and other non-Serb civilian populations in the
19 municipality of Vukovar and Vocin in Cr