1 Tuesday, 25 March 2003
2 [Status Conference]
3 [Open session]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.54 a.m.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I ask --
6 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] With your leave, Your Honour, I have
7 something to say about the first part.
8 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: This is already finished. Let's go to the
9 second part, and there will be time for you to address these issues during
10 the Status Conference.
11 May I first ask the Prosecution what about the actual disclosure.
12 MS. DEL PONTE: Yes. Your Honour, our disclosure to the accused
13 of the supporting material is completed on Friday under Rule 66(A)(i), so
14 we have no further -- at the moment we have no further documents to
15 disclose to the accused.
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. The second point would be we are
17 still seized with the motion of the Prosecution requesting the assignment
18 of Defence counsel to the accused. We can't deal with this issue today
19 because we don't yet, as mentioned beforehand, don't yet have the
20 translation into English.
21 From this we have two problems: The first problem is that,
22 Dr. Seselj, unfortunately in part your handwritten 100-page document is
23 not legible. I'm convinced that the Translation Unit will do the very
24 best in order to find out and to translate that what is possible. But
25 maybe we have to come back to you and to ask you one or the other
2 May I ask you: There are two possibilities. We can provide you
3 with a laptop or with a typewriter. What would you prefer?
4 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I would like neither a laptop nor a
5 typewriter because I am afraid of receiving an electric shock. But I will
6 kindly assist your translators if they have any problems in translation.
7 If I can sacrifice my fingers and deform them in writing 100 pages in
8 response to the Prosecution's motion, I think that the Court must ensure
9 translators who will translate this into the official language of the
10 Tribunal, because I am in a far worse situation than the Prosecution is as
11 regards the writing of submissions and various documents. I have far less
12 personnel at my disposal than the Prosecutor has.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Do I understand from this that you are
14 requesting legal aid?
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Why legal aid? I have never met a
16 better lawyer than I am in my whole life. I don't need legal aid. But a
17 typist, yes, I could use that.
18 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: We have to decide on this. You have the offer
19 to make use of a laptop. You have the offer to make use of a typewriter,
20 and especially making use of a laptop will facilitate your defence because
21 numerous documents are best accessible by laptop because you can find some
22 documents on CD-ROM and in an easy way to find.
23 But let me first -- I'm afraid you didn't get this document
24 beforehand. I have to tell you that there is a guideline, a direction on
25 the lengths of briefs and motions, and therefore -- for example, your
1 response to the Prosecutor's motion on assignment of counsel should not
2 have been more than ten pages or 3.000 words. These are rules that
3 were --
4 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] What are these rules, Your Honour?
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: [Previous interpretation continues] ... May I
6 ask the usher to give one copy of this document in the Serbian language to
7 the accused.
8 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] This is the first time I'm seeing
9 this document. This was certainly not among the documents I received.
10 But all my previous submissions - and there have been five - were half a
11 page long. And the translators were very successful in their
12 translation. I assured myself of that. However, my preliminary motions
13 as to the indictment, in relation to jurisdiction and the formal defects,
14 will also be over 100 pages long. I have already started writing this.
15 This cannot fit onto 10 pages.
16 In view of the seriousness of the indictment, I may have to write
17 over 100 pages. As you can see, I am taking this job very seriously. I
18 don't need any lawyer to hinder me in this. As far as I know, until the
19 beginning of the trial I only have to submit my preliminary motions,
20 unless the Prosecution continues to bombard me with these kinds of illegal
21 requests, because the Prosecution is abusing its rights, submitting
22 motions which it knows in advance cannot be approved. No one in the world
23 can deny me the right to defend myself. No one can impose Defence counsel
24 on me, as you call them. So please tell the Prosecution to submit only
25 serious motions so that we will not waste time on motions like this one
1 which they know in advance are unacceptable.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: The Trial Chamber in its entirety will decide on
3 the motion filed by the Prosecution and a comparative approach shows, in
4 fact, that there can be -- there might be some merits in this request.
5 But as mentioned, this is not the day to decide on this. It's up to you,
6 really up to you, to make use of the technical equipment available for
7 you, and you have to obey these rules of this Tribunal, and from this it
8 follows that motions during this period of time have not to exceed a
9 certain number of pages. It depends on the nature. If you feel it
10 necessary, you can file a request to leave for additional pages. But this
11 is the exception, not the rule. No doubt as to the fact that until now
12 you didn't have these guidelines. All your submissions, all the 100
13 pages, will be taken into count when we decide on the motion filed by the
15 Then the question is - and I took it already from your answers
16 that there are no problems in the moment with the translation of the
17 documents as far as you are concerned?
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] There is another problem. You
19 adopted a decision to the fact that the additional material, the
20 supporting material, submitted with other documents of the Prosecutor
21 should not be translated. However, I insist that everything must be
22 translated. I concluded on the basis of this material that there are
23 documents that are in the Serbian language in the original. So if the
24 Prosecutor has translated these documents into English, then I'm sure it
25 should not be a problem to have these documents made available to me in
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 the Serbian language. That's the easy part. Because I will consider a
2 document as inexistent before this Tribunal if I have not received it in
3 the Serbian language. So I consider the existent documents only the
4 documents submitted in the Serbian language, if you want this trial to be
5 fair and correct.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: You have received the decision by the Trial
7 Chamber ordering that all the relevant decisions have to be translated,
8 and the same is true for the motions. This was the order on translation
9 of documents filed the 6th of March, 2003. If there should be any
10 complaints, please be concrete and demonstrate those documents where you
11 state that you received them in a language you cannot understand that we
12 can resolve this problem.
13 Are there any other problems for the Status Conference? May I ask
14 first the Prosecution.
15 MS. DEL PONTE: No, Your Honour.
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
17 From the side of the accused?
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I have a few to mention.
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please.
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] A few problems that I wish to
22 As for the first part of today's hearing, Your Honour, you said
23 that I admitted that I had received the indictment in the Serbian
24 language, but this was something that I never actually contested, because
25 you failed to ask that question during the last Initial Appearance. I
1 only made a representation as to what was read out in the courtroom. I
2 inform you that I will avail myself of the right to object as to the
3 failure to comply with Article 20 of the Statute.
4 Regarding the issue of visas for the members of my closest family
5 and my friends has not yet been -- the issue has not yet been resolved.
6 My family and my friends will never apply for a Dutch visa, especially now
7 that the Dutch government is supporting -- is giving its support to the
8 American genocide and aggression against the Iraqi people. The Security
9 Council of the United Nations is required to ensure visas. If they can
10 ensure territoriality and official stamps, then I am sure that they can
11 provide official visas. The Dutch government cannot participate in the
12 decision-making as to the rights of visits. This can be done only by the
13 Tribunal, by the administration of the Detention Unit maybe, in accordance
14 with the appropriate rules, but the Dutch government cannot play any role
15 in this whatsoever.
16 And I wish to inform you've of one additional matter, Your
17 Honour. This may be uncomfortable for you, but I have to tell you that on
18 several occasions --
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Let us go step by step. First of all, I want to
20 ask you to use a civilised language and not to express yourself any kind
21 of aggression. We are seized with the case Prosecutor versus Vojislav
22 Seselj, Dr. Seselj, and not with other cases.
23 What is now about your visum or visa. I hope you have received
24 already, if not it's on its way, the host country agreement in a language
25 you understand. There you will not find a lot of assistance to your
1 problem. The solution is found in international law. As to the fact that
2 you have to enter Dutch territory and to go through Dutch territory before
3 coming to this Tribunal - and the same is true for your relatives or
4 visitors - it's the rule of public international law that the country has
5 to issue the visum or visa for this special purpose. And until now during
6 the ten years of the existence of this Tribunal, there had been no real
7 problems with this. So I have to ask you and the members of your family
8 to obey these rules and to apply for a visum issued by the Netherlands,
9 being the host country for our Tribunal. There is no other possibility.
10 But I interrupted you. You wanted to go to another issue.
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I wish to inform you, Your Honour,
13 that in 2001 in the month of September I personally applied for a Dutch
14 visa so that I could pay a visit to the detainees in the Scheveningen
15 Detention Unit. This visa was officially refused to me in a letter sent
16 by the Dutch foreign ministry in which they claimed that I constituted a
17 danger with respect to the national security of the Kingdom of the
18 Netherlands. By the same token, if I constitute a danger with respect to
19 the national security to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, then all members
20 of my family and all my close friends apparently pose the same danger.
21 There should be no difference in respect to that in any way. To the
22 extent that I posed a danger to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, they do
23 too. However, if you should persist in your request, I can only conclude
24 that at the end of this trial, at the end of these proceedings, no matter
25 how long they take, I will not be able to receive any visitors. But I
1 think I can stick it out, I can take it.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Dr. Seselj, the situation is now a different
3 one, and I can only ask you that in case members of your families or other
4 visitors want to come and visit you, then they may apply for the necessary
5 visa. And should there be any problem, should there be any obstacle at
6 all, please tell this Tribunal, and I'm quite sure we will overcome these
7 problems and you will receive the visitors, especially your family
8 members, in this Tribunal. Until now, there has never been an unsoluble
9 problem. So it is up to you. Please follow the rules of international
10 law and apply for the necessary visa, or let your members of your family
11 apply for this visa. So there shouldn't be any problem at all.
12 Any other issues?
13 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes. Concerning the issue of visa,
14 I consider the question to be solved and closed because I know I won't be
15 able to receive any visits until the end of the trial.
16 I have legal advisors who will not be able to visit me either.
17 But as I said, I consider the issue to be closed.
18 I also made a request to the Tribunal that the sum of $438 be paid
19 to me, that was the price of the air ticket. I paid for my travel
20 expenses. I think that The Hague Tribunal should cover these expenses.
21 In any case, this was a much cheaper version than the one that would have
22 been if I had been brought here by force. You told me, Your Honour, that
23 you will send me, you will provide me with statutory provisions regulating
24 the uniform of the Judges, the way they dress. I have still not received
25 any such document. My application, therefore, is still pending.
1 I also raised the issue of having to wear a flak jacket on the way
2 to the Tribunal. I must inform you that this time I was given a much
3 lighter flak jacket than the one I had last time, which I consider to be
4 some sort of privilege. However, I have to insist that I do not need any
5 flak jacket, I do not feel exposed to any danger. If anyone is exposed to
6 danger here, then the Judges should also wear flak jackets, because if
7 anyone should kill me, that would not be -- that would not be a big deal.
8 If a Judge of the Tribunal should be killed, that would constitute a big
9 loss for the Tribunal and the United Nations. This physical torture and
10 harassment in the form of a flak jacket should be stopped because there
11 have never been any attacks, any assaults to the detainees on the way to
12 the Tribunal. Never -- there have never been any dangers established in
13 this regard. So why should I be harassed in this way? I don't
15 This is what I have so far, unless the Prosecutor has any issue to
16 raise. And I, of course, have the right to respond.
17 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Coming back to the obligation to wear a Kevlar
18 jacket, and this time a lighter one, it's a security assessment and it's
19 therefore that all inmates of the Detention Unit when brought to the
20 Tribunal they have to wear this Kevlar jacket. We regard it as our duty
21 to follow the security assessment of our security personnel, and it's our
22 duty in respect of care of supervision emanating from the fact that we are
23 the ones issuing the warrant of arrest against you, and therefore when
24 there is this security assessment, that we have to take care that you run
25 no risk at all. You have to wear this Kevlar vest in your own interest,
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 and this is true for all the accused appearing here in this Tribunal.
2 Anything else?
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Well, I have just heard an
4 expression that I don't understand; namely "uhicenje." I know what
5 "hapsenje" means. It means "a great excitement." As to the word
6 "uhicenje," I don't know what it means. I think I need the assistance of
7 an interpreter who speaks the Serbian language.
8 Oh, oh, an arrest warrant. Now I understand. Next time you use
9 the right word. I've just received an answer from the interpreter. You
10 may not have heard this. It is my assumption, Your Honour, that your
11 interpreters have the text of the documents in the Serbian language and
12 they are now changing the exact expressions on their own.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Dr. Seselj, we are here in a Tribunal where we
14 use the -- all the three variants of the same common Serbo-Croatian
15 language, and everybody is treated equally. And I found out that you just
16 mentioned a concrete word. In the dictionary of the standard
17 Serbo-Croatian language, edited in 1967 in Novi Sad and Zagreb, all the
18 words you complained about, they were equaled. This is true for the word
19 "Opci" and "Opsti", for the word "Tocka" and "Tacka." This is true for
20 the word Opsina and "Opstina." So you have to accept and you have to
21 show some tolerance. Language is a tool bringing persons, bringing people
22 together, and to make us understand each other, but we can't expect that
23 everybody speaks the same variant or, even worse, the same dialect.
24 In this Tribunal, for example, we have English as one of the
25 official languages. Sometimes also for us it's difficult to understand a
1 person speaking Irish English, French English, German English, American
2 English, but we have to live with this in this spirit of tolerance and
3 trying to understand each other. So therefore, nothing will be special
4 with you when it comes to the translation and to the translation booths.
5 You always have to be aware. And to be honest, we don't care about this,
6 from where a person comes, be it Zagreb, Novi Sad, Belgrade, or wherever.
7 The main point is that it's translated into a language you understand, and
8 there should be not the slightest problem with this.
9 So anything additional from any parties? I can see Madam
10 Prosecutor nodding.
12 THE ACCUSED: [No interpretation]
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Sorry, may I interrupt you. Unfortunately in
14 the moment there was no interpretation available. Could you please
16 THE ACCUSED: [No interpretation]
17 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: No interpretation.
18 THE INTERPRETER: Can you hear us now?
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Now we can hear you.
20 Please proceed. Sorry.
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I have to complain about the
22 behaviour of the Prosecutor, Madam Carla Del Ponte. In Brussels on the
23 6th of March she spoke for the media and for the public. That is her
24 right, and I don't deny it. But she mentioned me in a political context.
25 She stated: "Seselj is in Scheveningen and his departure did not cause
1 any major upheavals," and so on and so forth. She cannot fight against me
2 by political means as long as I am in prison. That's my opinion. And you
3 shall judge whether I am right. She should not be using my name in any
4 kind of political context. She can prosecute me in court, but if she is
5 going to make speeches about me for the media in a political context, then
6 you have to make it possible for me to do likewise. Otherwise, I insist
7 that my name not be used in the political context of public appearances by
8 the Prosecution.
9 And secondly, I never caused any upheavals or any trouble or
10 unrest in Belgrade at all, so why should my departure for The Hague cause
11 any kind of unrest when I've been trying to come to The Hague for eight
12 years? In December 1995 I called up the Prosecution three times by phone
13 insisting that I should come to The Hague. So why should this cause any
14 kind of unrest in Serbia? I wanted to come here. I am grateful that my
15 wish has been granted. So don't fight against me politically while I am
16 manacled, in handcuffs.
17 There is another problem as well, and it is contained in the
18 Prosecution motion asking that Defence counsel be imposed on me. On page
19 8, the Prosecution says: "The accused Seselj thrives on causing scandal,
20 conspiracy, and publicity." I have been tried for at least -- at least 50
21 times in my country in Serbia, always for political reasons. Never has it
22 happened that a public prosecutor has insulted me so badly in a public
23 document. "The accused Seselj thrives on scandal."
24 Your Honour, I think this cannot be tolerated. And you as the
25 Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber II should take the necessary steps to
1 prevent this sort of thing from happening again, because if I start
2 insulting the opposite side, I assure you that I have more talent and more
3 success in this sort of thing than the Prosecution and they will not find
4 it pleasant. Since I have been in prison, I have never said anything so
5 insulting about Mrs. Del Ponte.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: As mentioned before, we are still seized with
7 this motion filed by the Prosecution. We were not able to receive your
8 answer in writing. As soon as possible and as soon as practicable, you
9 will receive the response and the decision by the entire Trial Chamber on
10 this issues.
11 Finally, under Rule 65, I have to ask you mandatorily, do you have
12 any problems with your health at the moment?
13 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] No.
14 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Do you have any complaints about the conditions
15 in the Detention Unit?
16 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] As for the Detention Unit, I have no
17 complaints. But I insist that the Prosecution return to me a book that
18 was confiscated while I was out walking, the 31st volume of my collected
19 works. If the Prosecution wants to get this book, they can buy it in
20 Belgrade, in a bookshop. I have never owned any illegal editions. All my
21 books are available to the public. If they ask me nicely, I can lend it
22 to them and let them read it, but I think there's no point in brutally
23 wrenching it from me.
24 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I think this problem should be resolved
25 immediately. It shouldn't --
1 Do you want to --
2 MS. DEL PONTE: No. Just to specify that it's not the Prosecutor
3 who confiscated the book. We don't know about this book. It is probably
4 the director of the unit detention or the -- I don't know. But it's not
5 the Prosecutor who confiscated the book.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you for this clarification.
7 If you have any complaints about this, don't hesitate to do this
8 in writing.
9 This concludes today's further appearance and at the same time the
10 Status Conference. The hearing stands adjourned.
11 --- Whereupon the Status Conference
12 adjourned at 10.29 a.m.