Serbian PM slams UN Yugoslav war crimes court, calls it ‘political’

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic accuses UN Yugoslav war crimes court for being “political” and failing to reconcile Balkans

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic gestures during a news conference in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.

Updated Apr 2, 2016

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic accused the UN Yugoslav war crimes court on Friday of failing to reconcile the Balkans and for being “political”, one day after Serb leader Vojislav Seselj was cleared of war crime charges.

Reconciliation had been one of the main goals of the court, Vucic said.

The court was set up to try violent war crimes during the 1990s Balkan conflicts, but “there is no doubt that The Hague tribunal has not fulfilled this goal.”

"Many verdicts have actually shown that this tribunal acted mainly as a political court, not a legal institution," he said while also referring to Seselj's trial as "political".

The Serbian PM warned the country could backslide back to its dark past if far-right parties receive a boost from the acquittal of their leader Vojislav Seselj by a UN war crimes court, which could potentially lead them into winning the upcoming general election.

The 61-year-old faced nine charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over his alleged ruthless quest to unite "all Serbian lands" in a "Greater Serbia."

While Seselj maintains he is in poor health, he was seen earlier this month at a rally in Belgrade setting fire to EU and NATO flags.

A day later, he was seen paying his respects at the grave of former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic - who died in his cell in The Hague in 2006 while on trial for genocide and other war crimes.

He may now pave way for a firebrand politician to become a key political powerbroker after the April 24 vote.

Seselj’s Serbian Radical Party, with an outpouring in pro-Russian and right-wing sentiments in Serbia, has a good chance to return to parliament.

Prime Minister Vucic on Friday said Serbia is at crossroads with its politics, economy and morals, adding that pre-election polls show his ruling populists “have never been closer to losing the election.”

Seselj’s trial started in 2006, but was halted only weeks later after he went on hunger strike. It was then nullified.

A new trial started in late 2007 and proceeded with multiple delays until the closing arguments in March 2012, when prosecutors said Seselj had warned "rivers of blood" would flow in Bosnia if his vision for a greater Serbian state was opposed.

TRTWorld and agencies