Serbia′s police stop ′war criminal′ rally from reaching ethnically-mixed village | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 06.05.2018
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Serbia's police stop 'war criminal' rally from reaching ethnically-mixed village

An ultranationalist leader wanted to hold a "peaceful rally" in the same village where he once committed war crimes. Skirmishes broke out when opposition supporters held up a banner calling him a "war criminal."

Serbian police on Sunday blocked roads to prevent ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj from holding a rally in a village, where he committed crimes against humanity during the 1990s wars that accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Followed by an entourage comprising dozens of followers, Seselj attempted to make his way to the ethnically mixed village of Hrtkovci on Sunday. But police cordoned off roads leading to the village, which lies north-west of the Serbian capital Belgrade.

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"We wanted to have a peaceful rally, and the regime had banned it without any reason," Seselj told reporters.

Hrtkovci was where Seselj delivered a speech in 1992 that resulted in deportations of scores of ethnic Croats from the village.

Convicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj

Vojislav Seselj told reporters he just wanted to hold a "peaceful rally"

'War criminal'

Skirmishes broke out when members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) arrived at the roadblock and held up a banner that read: "Seselj is a war criminal."

Earlier this year, Seselj was convicted by UN war crimes judges of crimes against humanity for "instigating deportation and persecution." Prosecutors sentenced him to 10 years in prison, but he was released soon afterward for time served.

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The conviction was hailed by many in the international community. Human rights watching Amnesty International said the conviction represented "a welcome development which delivers long-delayed justice to thousands of victims of the armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia."

More than 100,000 people were killed in the wars that broke out during the break of Yugoslavia. Seselj, who founded the Serbian Radical Party, served as deputy prime minister under Slobodan Milosevic throughout the wars.

ls/aw (Reuters, AP)

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