The international war crimes court in The Hague has revoked the release order of Serbian ultra-nationalist Vojislav Sesejl. The suspect had been released late last year so that he could seek medical treatment at home.
Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Monday granted an appeal by the prosecution and revoked the provisional release of Seselj, which it had issued last November, and ordered him to return to the United Nations Detention Unit in The Hague immediately.
The court had issued the release order last November in order to allow the 60-year-old Seselj to seek treatment for colon and liver cancer back in Serbia, pending a verdict in his trial on war crimes charges.
Violation of terms of release
Strict conditions were attached to the provisional release order, including that he avoid any contact with his alleged victims or witnesses and that he return to The Hague if ordered to do so by ICTY judges. However, upon his arrival in Belgrade, just hours after the release order was issued, Seselj vowed not to return to The Hague voluntarily, which the judges regarded as a violation of his release terms.
On Monday, the Serbian daily Vecernje Novosti quoted Seselj as reiterating his rejection of the order, which would leave the Belgrade authorities with the task of forcibly returning him to The Hague.
"Let the police come. They arrest people. If the Gendarmes come, they get violent, I'll have to watch my back. It won't be easy to arrest me," Seselj said.
Since his triumphant return to Belgrade, the ultra-nationalist firebrand has been politically active addressing supporters of his Radical Party on a number of occasions.
Seselj spent almost 12 years in detention at the ICTY after turning himself in in 2003. He faces numerous charges, including inciting others to commit murder, and ethnic cleansing, stemming from the wars in Croatia and Bosnia in the early 1990s.
Seselj, who was repeatedly found guilty of contempt during his trial, pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him. The Tribunal had been scheduled to hand down a verdict in October 2013, but this was scuppered after one of the judges in the case was removed due to alleged bias. It's not clear when a verdict can be expected.
pfd/lw (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)