Vojislav Šešelj Found Guilty of Deportation of Croats

By 11 April 2018

ZAGREB, April 11, 2018 - Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Šešelj is responsible for the persecution and deportation of Vojvodina Croats by giving a hate-mongering speech in Hrtkovci on 6 May 1992, the Appeals Chamber of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), the successor to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said in a final verdict on Wednesday.

The MICT Appeals Chamber sentenced him to ten years' imprisonment and counted the time he had spent in the ICTY's detention against the sentence.

Systematic and widespread crimes occurred in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the trial chamber erred by finding otherwise, MICT said.

Šešelj did not attend today's hearing. Two years ago, he was acquitted of all war crimes charges pending appeal and the ICTY prosecution appealed, asking that the acquittal be quashed over grave errors by the ICTY trial chamber.

The prosecution said that, despite abundant evidence, the trial chamber brought a "stunning" finding that there had been no systemic and widespread attacks on non-Serbs in Croatia and BiH, that there had been no joint criminal enterprise, and that Šešelj was not responsible for persecutions, murder and other war crimes in Croatia and BiH and against Croats in Vojvodina, Serbia.

The prosecution also asked that it be found that Šešelj contributed significantly to that criminal enterprise with his hate-mongering speeches and by deploying volunteers, thus instigating crimes, and that the Appeals Chamber sentence him to 28 years in prison or order a retrial.

On 31 March 2016, Trial Chamber III of the ICTY acquitted Šešelj of all charges of the indictment, finding that the plan to create a Great Serbia was a political project and not a crime. It also found that there was no evidence that Šešelj was criminally responsible for deploying volunteer fighters because it was not proven that this was done for criminal purposes but was possibly meant to protect Serbs.

It also ruled that nationalist ideology propaganda was not a crime in itself. It ruled that Šešelj's hate-mongering speeches served to raise soldiers' morale on the ground and that they did not result in persecution. The trial chamber also ruled by a majority vote that there was no joint criminal enterprise led by Serbian President Milošević because the purpose of the consensus among Serb officials was the defence of Serbs and the preservation of Yugoslavia, rather than the commission of crimes.