Significant moves outside Serbia have occurred since my last post on Vojislav Seselj on 23 November and his hate speeches that attempt justifying Serb war crimes across Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990’s. These significant moves do not include an inkling of condemnation of Seselj’s dangerously hateful public outbursts by Serbia’s government. If anything, Serbia’s government can be seen as condoning Seselj’s actions even though they try very hard to convince the world that Seselj has nothing to do with Serbia’s government but find no words to condemn the man and his disturbing ethnic hatred speeches. He continues, freely, with the same rhetoric he served upon Serbs in the early 1990’s, which served as fuel to the despicable atrocities and war crimes against Croats, Bosniaks and other non-Serbs in former Yugoslavia.
The European Parliament resolution on 27 November instigated by Croatian MEPs and backed by all the main political groups has slammed the recent activities of accused Serbian war criminal Vojislav Seselj.
The EP resolution – declaration – condemns “Seselj’s warmongering, incitement to hatred and encouragement of territorial claims and his attempts to derail Serbia from its European path” and adds that his rhetoric “has reopened the victims’ psychological wounds” from the war and the atrocities of the early 1990s.
The resolution also calls on the International Crime Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to “take measures to re-examine the existence of requirements for provisional release under new circumstances.”
Seselj, the vicious madman of Serbia’s Greater Serbia political cauldron, responded to the EP declaration by saying that he would not return to The Hague voluntarily, stressing that he was very proud of the declaration adopted by the Croatian Parliament and the resolution passed by the European Parliament, especially because the latter was initiated by Croatian MEPs. Serbia’s government, of course, instead of condemning Seselj’s hate speech and sanctioning, or at least limiting, the content for any public speeches to be made by Seselj in order to curb hate speech that easily stirs many an ultranationalist into criminal activities has gone on the defensive without actually addressing the hate rhetoric stirring up unrest in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as deep concern in most EU countries.
Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has tried to play down the significance of Seselj’s comments.
“There is nothing in today’s Serbia that connects this government and Vojislav Seselj, about whom I don’t even want to talk,” Vucic said on Thursday.
Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that the EUP declaration was offensive for Serbia as well as annoying and disappointing for its citizens!
Croatia’s Prime Minister said on Friday 28 November (source HRT TV news) he had scrapped a planned trip to Serbia next month due to Belgrade’s failure to distance itself from comments made by the Serbian ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj recently temporarily freed from a U.N. war crimes tribunal pending judgment.
Zoran Milanovic’s cancellation highlights a new chill in ties between Croatia and Serbia. To my view “closer” ties should not have been cemented without Serbia’s acknowledgement of the crucial part it played in the war crimes and aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990’s. But Serbia has a disturbing knack at playing the victim, when in fact it represents the perpetrator of aggression.
Seselj continues to be hailed in Serbia as a hero by many supporters. He has said he still believes in the ‘Greater Serbia’ ideology that fuelled the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo two decades ago. It would seem he has solid support for this devastating disposition within Serbia’s government. The lack of Serbian government’s condemnation of Seselj’s rabble rousing can, to my view, only be interpreted as support for him.
Addressing the Serbian authorities, Milanovic added on Friday:
“All I am asking is that you say ‘this (Seselj’s comments) is not good, this is evil and I am distancing myself from this’. For some reason this government won’t say that and in these circumstances it would be ridiculous for me to go there“.
While Croatia plans to bring the issue of Seselj’s temporary release from The Hague, pending judgment, to the UN Security Council in the coming days it’s most prudent to consider the view on the matter presented by Luka Misetic, the defense attorney in the ICTY case against Croatian general Ante Gotovina who was acquitted by the Tribunal of war crimes contained in the indictment against
“ Justice Requires that Seselj’s Judgment Be Delivered Orally First
After eleven years of trial, the ICTY owes a final judgment to the victims, to the many witnesses who took the risk to testify against Seselj, and to Seselj himself. The ICTY cannot simply sit back and hope that Seselj survives his liver cancer for another year and half, long enough for Judge Niang to become familiar with the evidence and to deliver a written Trial Judgment in 2016.
The Trial Chamber can possibly avoid this doomsday scenario of Seselj dying before judgment can be delivered. It can deliver the Judgment orally, without a written judgment, almost as soon as a majority of the judges agree on the ultimate issue of the guilt or innocence of Mr. Seselj. Rule 98(C) ter of the ICTY’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence states:
The judgement shall be rendered by a majority of the Judges. It shall be accompanied or followed as soon as possible by a reasoned opinion in writing, to which separate or dissenting opinions may be appended. 
The phrase ‘or followed as soon as possible’ clearly implies that the Trial Chamber has the power to deliver an oral Judgement first, if it is in the interests of justice to do so, and provide a written Judgement as soon as practicable thereafter. Indeed, this procedure was followed in Aleksovski, where the Judges of the Trial Chamber first delivered an oral Judgement after finding that “at this stage of their deliberations it is important to convene a hearing in the presence of the accused, the Prosecution and Defence counsel as quickly as possible so that they may pronounce their Judgment.
In explaining the Trial Chamber’s decision to pronounce Judgement orally, the Presiding Judge in Aleksovski stated as follows:
Your trial proper started before this Trial Chamber on January 6th, 1998, and ended on March 23rd, 1999. Since that date, my colleagues and I have been deliberating, assessing, and reviewing all the evidence, briefs, and written documents of the trial. The conclusions which we have reached have seemed of such a nature that they justify amply the fact that the hearing be organised in the shortest of delays, without waiting for the final judgement to be put down in writing. This judgement will be made public as early as possible, but the urgency seems to be such that we have not waited for the return of the senior trial attorney of this trial, Mr. Grant Niemann, to which I would like to pay homage. May he be made aware that we are very sorry that he is not present today for we have always been very pleased with his work. I would like to say the same for Mr. Mikulicic: We are very sorry not to see them here today.
The Aleksovski Trial Chamber sentenced the Accused to two years and six months imprisonment. However, because the Accused had already been in detention for a period of time longer than the imposed sentence, the Trial Chamber ordered his immediate release on 7 May 1999. The written Judgement was not delivered until 25 June 1999.
The Seselj Trial Chamber should follow the precedent of the Aleksovski Trial Chamber and use its powers under Rule 98(C) ter to deliver a judgment as soon as a majority has reached a decision. If Judges Antonetti and Lattanzi have already reached a majority decision even without Judge Niang’s vote, then nothing precludes them from rendering their oral decision right now, because Rule 98(C) ter expressly states that the Judgement shall be rendered ‘by a majority of the Judges,’ not necessarily by all of the Judges. They do not have to wait for Judge Niang if they have already reached a majority Judgment. Indeed, even if Judges Antonetti and Lattanzi have reached a majority Judgment on certain counts but not others, Rule 98 (C) ter does not prevent them from issuing a partial oral judgment on those counts.
If Judges Antonetti and Lattanzi are deadlocked and have differing judgments on Seselj’s guilt, then the proceedings indeed will have to wait for Judge Niang to complete his review of the evidence, begin deliberations, and cast his tiebreaking vote. Even under this scenario, however, the Trial Chamber should not wait for a written Judgement to be prepared before pronouncing on Seselj’s guilt. As soon as Judge Niang has cast his vote, the Trial Chamber should immediately schedule an oral Judgment (hopefully in the summer of 2015), and render its decision on guilt or innocence orally. If Seselj dies thereafter, the Trial Chamber will nevertheless retain jurisdiction to deliver the written Judgement explaining its already delivered oral Judgment.
The ICTY will have to utilize some creative thinking and little known rules (like Rule 98(C) ter) in order to avoid the situation where Seselj dies and no judgment is ever delivered. That result would render the Seselj case a complete farce. Seselj has already been allowed to turn the ICTY proceedings against him into a circus during his lifetime. He should not be allowed to cement that legacy by escaping judgment through his death.”
Victims’ groups and human rights activists in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia as well as some in Serbia have throughout the past week issued statements approving of the EU Parliament’s resolution regarding Seselj’s inflammatory rhetoric. But all that seems futile, for at the root stands the fact that nothing human or humane moves Seselj or those who think like him. The added suffering victims of war crimes are forced to endure because of his latest spree of cruelty on the public stage in Serbia means nothing to him or to the Serbian government that chooses not to ban his public gatherings. Perhaps the UN Security Council will bring a dose of peace and humanity and cut Seselj’s hatred from spreading further. Let’s watch and wait to see what develops even if one did expect, albeit in futility, the current Serbian government to promptly nip in the bud the regurgitation of 1990’s ethnic hatred it used to occupy parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)