[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 17:12 GMT
Serb suspect 'can be force-fed'
Vojislav Seselj in court
Vojislav Seselj is demanding the right to defend himself
Judges at The Hague have ordered that Serbian war crimes suspect Vojislav Seselj be force-fed if necessary to stop him dying from a hunger strike.

A doctor who examined Mr Seselj said he could die within two weeks if he persisted with his protest.

The 52-year-old ultra-nationalist leader "could have a cardiac arrest", said French doctor Patrick Barriot.

Mr Seselj denies charges of driving the ethnic cleansing of former Yugoslavia in the 1990s wars.

His trial at the international war crimes tribunal was suspended last week because of his ill-health, after more than three weeks on hunger strike.

"He is very weak," said Dr Barriot.

"We have huge concerns about his health," he told the Associated Press.

Dr Barriot examined Mr Seselj, along with Serbian and Russian doctors.

Mr Seselj has refused to be seen by doctors representing the tribunal, but the court stepped in on Wednesday.

"The trial chamber ordered the authorities of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to provide medical services - which may in the case of medical necessity include intervention such as drip-feeding - with the aim of protecting the health and welfare of the accused and avoiding loss of life," it said in a statement.

Support in Serbia

Mr Seselj launched the hunger strike to back up his demands for unlimited visits from his wife and the right to pick his own defence team.

Mr Seselj said he would defend himself, but the court took away that right when he refused to turn up on the first day of the trial, and appointed another lawyer on his behalf.

It has since said he can appeal against that decision.

Mr Seselj in Vukovar in 1991
Seselj stands accused of crimes in the early 1990s

Serbia's ambassador to the Netherlands has called for Mr Seselj, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), to be moved out of his prison hospital in The Hague, and transferred to a hospital in Belgrade.

His strong brand of Serbian nationalism still has appeal among many Serbs, says the BBC's Nick Hawton in Belgrade.

Thousands of people marched in the Serbian capital at the weekend to support his stance.

Radical Party secretary Aleksander Vucic declared: "He's not fighting just for his life... he's fighting for all of us who are gathered here. Vojislav Seselj is fighting for Serbia!"

Mr Seselj is accused by the International War Crimes Tribunal of forming a joint criminal enterprise with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, which led to the extermination and deportation of non-Serbs from Bosnia and Croatia.




SEE ALSO
Serb suspect in prison hospital
30 Nov 06 |  Europe
Serb punished for trial no-show
27 Nov 06 |  Europe
Profile: Vojislav Seselj
27 Nov 06 |  Europe
At a glance: Hague tribunal
20 Feb 03 |  Europe

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific