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EMN Blog: Former Serb Official Acquitted of War Crimes

Posted: April 1, 2016 at 11:02 pm by , in Early Morning News

“Vojislav Seselj is now a free man,” ruled the judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Jean Claude Antonetti on March 31, 2016. seselj

Seselj, a US presidential candidate Donald Trump supporter, and leader of the Serbian Radical Party, and former Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia had been accused of war crimes between 1991-93 during the Bosnian War in Croatia and Bosnia.  Those war crimes included ethnic cleansing where he was said by witnesses to not only incite the murders, torture and illegal deportations of Croats, Muslims, and other non-Serbs, but also of financing the crimes.

Prosecutors were seeking convictions for six counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity and a 28-year sentence.

Despite the court’s reviewing video documents of speeches made by Seselj calling on his volunteer army to expel and kill Croats and Muslims from Vukovar and Mali Zvornik, the court ruled that the speeches were “made in the context of the conflict and were meant to boost the morale of his army rather than calling upon them to spare no one,” and that Seselj had no “military hierarchical” authority over the volunteer army since the volunteers weren’t a technical military operation.  Antonetti said in his ruling that Seselj did not commit crimes evident in the videos but was simply supporting the war effort.

Survivors of the Bosnian war expressed outrage including Croatia prime minister Tihomir Orešković who declared Seselj banned from entering the country.

Seselj was not present for the trial in the Netherlands and is undergoing treatment in Serbia for terminal cancer.

Serbs make up the greatest majority of those convicted for Bosnian war crimes under the International Criminal Tribunal over Croats who are the second most convicted over Albanians, Bosniaks, Macedonians, and Montenegrins.

Serbia will hold parliamentary elections on April 24, 2016.

Seselj said he is seeking 12 million Euros in damages for his detention and is considering adding 2 million Euros for the additional years since his release from prison while awaiting trial.

The prosecution is open to appealing the acquittal.

photos:  KGNU News

The Sarajevo Tunnel Museum still stands.  The tunnel dug by hand during the Bosnian war served as an escape route for residents of the city and as a return route to import food from the airport runways for the residents still trapped in the city.  In the photos below you can see some of the last of the supplies left untouched as they remained at the end of the war.  You can also see pictures displayed at the museum of the destruction following some of the bombings including of the Holiday Inn in Sarajevo and of the Holiday Inn as it stood 20 years later following repair.