ŠEŠELJ, Vojislav (MICT-16-99)

Completed

In February 1991, Vojislav Šešelj was appointed President of the newly founded Serbian Radical Party. In June 1991, he was elected as a member of the Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.

Acquitted by an ICTY Trial Chamber on 31 March 2016.

On 29 August 2016, the Prosecution filed a public redacted version of its appeal brief.

On 11 April 2018, the Appeals Chamber rendered the Appeal Judgement and reversed Šešelj’s acquittals, in part, entering convictions against Šešelj under Counts 1, 10 and 11 of the indictment for instigating deportation, persecution (forcible displacement), and other inhumane acts (forcible transfers) as crimes against humanity, as well as for committing persecution, based on a violation of the right to security, as a crime against humanity. The Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber erred in not holding Šešelj criminally responsible for a speech he gave in Hrtkovci, Vojvodina (Serbia) on 6 May 1992, calling for the expulsion of the non-Serbian population. In addition, the Appeals Chamber reversed the Trial Chamber’s finding that there was no widespread or systematic attack against the non-Serbian civilian population in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Appeals Chamber also determined that the crimes committed in Hrtkovci, Vojvodina, were part of the wider attack in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Appeals Chamber sentenced Šešelj to 10 years of imprisonment. The sentence was declared served in view of the credit to which Šešelj was entitled under the Rules of Procedure and Evidence for the time he spent in detention in custody of the ICTY pending trial.

Indictment

Initial indictment filed on 15 January 2003. Operational indictment filed on 7 December 2007.

Arrest

Surrendered on 23 February 2003. Transferred on 24 February 2003.

ICTY Trial Chamber Judgement

Delivered on 31 March 2016.

The Trial Chamber acquitted Vojislav Šešelj of three co unts of crimes against humanity and six counts of violations of the laws or customs of war.

MICT Appeals Chamber

Judge Theodor Meron (Presiding)

Judge Lee G. Muthoga

Judge Florence Rita Arrey

Judge Ben Emmerson

Judge Ivo Nelson de Caires Batista Rosa

Status of the Case

Completed.

Appeals Proceedings

On 2 May 2016, the Prosecution filed its notice of appeal against the ICTY Trial Judgement.

On 29 August 2016, the Prosecution filed a public redacted version of its appeal brief (filed confidentially on 18 July 2016).

On 19 December 2016, Vojislav Šešelj submitted his respondent’s brief in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (“B/C/S”). The official translation of the Respondent’s brief into one of the working languages of the Mechanism was filed on 7 February 2017. The Prosecution filed its reply brief on 22 February 2017.

On 18 September 2017, the MICT Appeals Chamber issued an order inviting Šešelj to clarify whether or not he maintained his earlier stated position not to attend the appeal hearing, and warning him that, if he chose not to attend, the Registrar would be instructed to assign a standby counsel.

On 11 October 2017, following Šešelj’s refusal to respond to the order within the given 10-day deadline, the Appeals Chamber instructed the Registrar to assign a standby counsel, with a mandate strictly limited to ensuring that Šešelj’s procedural rights at the appeal hearing would be protected in the event that he did not appear for the hearing.

On 17 October 2017, the Appeals Chamber scheduled the appeal hearing for 13 December 2017. In doing so, the Appeals Chamber informed the parties that, should Šešelj not participate in the hearing, his response in writing to the Prosecution’s oral arguments would be due within 10 days of receiving the B/C/S transcript of the hearing, and that the Prosecution may file a reply within five days of receiving the English translation of Šešelj’s response.

On 19 October 2017, in accordance with the Appeals Chamber’s decision of 11 October 2017, the Registrar assigned Colleen Rohan as standby counsel to Šešelj.

On 13 December 2017, the Appeals Chamber heard oral arguments in the appeal filed by the Prosecution. Since Šešelj did not appear for the appeal hearing, standby counsel was present at the hearing to protect his procedural interests.

On 25 December 2017, Šešelj confirmed receipt of the B/C/S transcript of the appeal hearing.

On 11 April 2018, the Appeals Chamber rendered the Appeal Judgement and reversed Šešelj’s acquittals, in part, entering convictions against Šešelj under Counts 1, 10 and 11 of the indictment for instigating deportation, persecution (forcible displacement), and other inhumane acts (forcible transfers) as crimes against humanity, as well as for committing persecution, based on a violation of the right to security, as a crime against humanity. The Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber erred in not holding Šešelj criminally responsible for a speech he gave in Hrtkovci, Vojvodina (Serbia) on 6 May 1992, calling for the expulsion of the non-Serbian population. In addition, the Appeals Chamber reversed the Trial Chamber’s finding that there was no widespread or systematic attack against the non-Serbian civilian population in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Appeals Chamber also determined that the crimes committed in Hrtkovci, Vojvodina, were part of the wider attack in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Appeals Chamber sentenced Šešelj to 10 years of imprisonment. The sentence was declared served in view of the credit to which Šešelj was entitled under the Rules of Procedure and Evidence for the time he spent in detention in custody of the ICTY pending trial.

Case Background Information

Indictment

Vojislav Šešelj was charged before the ICTY with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of violations of the laws or customs of war committed during the period from August 1991 until September 1993.

The indictment alleged that Šešelj planned, ordered, instigated, committed, including through his participation in a joint criminal enterprise (“JCE”), or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation or execution of these crimes. The indictment alleged that the purpose of the JCE was the permanent forcible removal of a majority of the Croat, Muslim and other non-Serb civilian populations from parts of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the province of Vojvodina in the Republic of Serbia.

Three counts of crimes against humanity
  • Persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds (Count 1)
  • Deportation, inhumane acts (forcible transfer) (Counts 10 and 11)
Six counts of violations of the laws or customs of war
  • Murder (Count 4)
  • Torture and cruel treatment (Counts 8 and 9)
  • Wanton destruction, destruction or willful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion or education, plunder of public or private property (Counts 12, 13 and 14)*

* Counts 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 were removed from the initial indictment.

ICTY Trial Chamber Judgement

On 31 March 2016, Trial Chamber III of the ICTY acquitted Šešelj of all charges of the indictment, with a majority decision on eight counts and a unanimous decision on one count.

The Trial Chamber, by majority, found that the Prosecution had failed to prove the existence of a JCE. In relation to the allegations that, in his speeches, Šešelj incited the commission of crimes, for some of those speeches, the Trial Chamber, by majority, could not rule out the reasonable possibility that they were made in a context of conflict and were meant to boost the morale of the troops of his camp, rather than calling upon the troops to spare no one. The Chamber, by majority, found that other speeches delivered by Šešelj constituted clear appeals for the expulsion and forcible transfer of Croats. However, the Chamber, by majority, found that the rosecutor had failed to prove a causal link between the speeches and the commission of the crimes.

Start of ICTY Trial

7 November 2007*

Prosecution Case

Started

7 November 2007

Closed

13 January 2010

Closing Arguments

Started

5 March 2012

Closed

20 March 2012

ICTY Trial Chamber Judgement

31 March 2016

Verdict

Acquittal

Statistics

ICTY trial days

175

 

Total exhibits admitted at trial

1,399

Prosecution

1,367

Defence

6

Chamber

26

Total witnesses called at trial

99

Prosecution

90

Defence

0**

Chamber

9

* The trial first started on 27 November 2006. A restart of the trial was ordered by the ICTY Appeals Chamber on 8 December 2006.
** There was no Defence case.