Hague lifts order to summon Serb war crime suspect

Hague judges overturn order for Serbian war crime suspect because of his need for medical treatment

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Serbian nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj speaks during a news conference inside his Serbian Radical Party headquarters in Belgrade, April 2, 2015.

Judges have excused a Serbian war crimes suspect on Wednesday from returning to The Hague for his verdict because he needed medical treatment unavailable there.

This move, avoided a potential risk of confrontation that could have led to EU sanctions on Serbia for failing to carry out summons for nationalist politician Vojislav Seselj, who has been charged with fomenting the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Seselj, accused of war crimes during the break-up of Yugoslavia, is popular among some of the right-wing government's supporters, who protested his extradition.

On Tuesday he rejected the verdict and said "I will not go voluntarily to The Hague. Whether they'll carry me to the airport or something else, I do not know.”

He also burned EU and NATO flags in front of the High Court in Belgrade while his Radical Party supporters were cheering.

Judges said that they had received confidential information on Seselj's health from Serbian authorities, which had led them to lift their order for him to be present for his verdict on March 31.

"It appears from Serbia's response that the medical treatment can neither be interrupted nor carried out in The Hague,” judges wrote.

In November 2014, the Serbian nationalist was freed by the United Nations court on medical grounds, but after four months, judges in The Hague summoned him back, saying he had broken the order to stay out of public life.

This change in decision comes a week before the court rules in the case against wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, charged with genocide for his role in the early 1990s Bosnian war in which 100,000 were killed as ethnic Serbs and Croats carved ethnically pure statelets out of multi-ethnic Bosnia.

TRTWorld and agencies