Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Friday, 29 May 2009 13:36 UK

Hague to try Seselj for contempt

Vojislav Seselj in court (March 2009)
Vojislav Seselj voluntarily surrendered to the ICTY in February 2003

Serb nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj is to go on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for contempt of court.

Mr Seselj is accused of disclosing the names and details of three protected witnesses at his war crimes trial.

He went on trial in 2007 for alleged crimes committed in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia between 1991 and 1994.

The 54-year-old denies contempt as well as the three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes.

Prosecutors at The Hague say the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader recruited and indoctrinated Serb forces with speeches containing "poisonous ideas" and sent them to commit "unspeakable crimes" against hundreds of non-Serbs.

1954: Born in Hercegovina
1984: Jailed for criticising Communists
1990: Sets up Serb Radical Party
1991: Elected to Serbian Assembly
1993: Forces dissolution of Serbian parliament
1999: Resigns as vice-president in Serbian Government
2002: Stands in Serbian presidential elections
2003: Indicted by ICTY
2007: Elected as Serbian MP; war crimes tribunal opens

He is accused of forming a joint criminal enterprise with the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic to "ethnically cleanse" large parts of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia's northern Vojvodina region.

Mr Seselj, who like Milosevic is acting as his own lawyer, does not deny making nationalist speeches, but insists they did not constitute war crimes.

He says the tribunal is illegitimate and biased against Serbs, and accuses it of falsifying history by classing the 1995 Srebrenica massacre as genocide.

In January, the ICTY charged Mr Seselj with contempt relating to the publication of the names, occupations and addresses of witnesses.

He is alleged to have written a book in which the information was published, along with other material such as excerpts from a written statement by one witness, the disclosure of which was prohibited.

Mr Seselj surrendered to the ICTY voluntarily in February 2003, vowing to clear his name. However, while awaiting trial he was elected one of the SRS's members of parliament in the 2007 election.

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