News / Europe

    Serb Nationalist Defies Court, Burns EU, NATO Flags

    Serb ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj holds a burning European Union flag in front of the High Court  building in Belgrade, March 10, 2016.
    Serb ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj holds a burning European Union flag in front of the High Court building in Belgrade, March 10, 2016.
    VOA News

    Serbian ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj set fire to European Union and NATO flags outside a Belgrade court Thursday, insisting he would not return to The Hague to hear the verdict in his war crimes trial later this month.

    Seselj, 61, who has liver cancer, was allowed to return to Serbia for treatment in November 2014 while awaiting judgment from the U.N. war crimes court.  

    Four months after Seselj was freed, judges in The Hague ordered him to return March 31 to hear his verdict, saying he had broken terms of his release by telling supporters he would never go back.

    Seselj was tried on three counts of crimes against humanity, which included persecution, deportation and forcible transfers, and six other charges that included torture and murder during wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia’s Vojvodina region, amid the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

    Seselj surrendered in 2003, and his trial ran from 2007 to 2012.

    Seselj’s display of defiance came after Serbia’s High Court canceled a hearing on his extradition to The Hague tribunal on Thursday, citing procedural reasons. The nationalist instead burned the EU flag outside the building, saying, “It burns well,” before setting fire to the NATO flag as well.

    “I will not go voluntarily, but I will use every opportunity to inflict expert professional, political and moral damage on The Hague tribunal,” Seselj told dozens of cheering supporters.

    The extradition could increase political pressure on Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and his Progressive Party just before a parliamentary election on April 24. Vucic, a former protege of Seselj, broke with his party in 2008 to pursue a more pro-Western course.

    As leader of the far-right Serbian Radical Party, Seselj plans to run for parliament in the coming election.

    His return to The Hague might improve his popularity, helping his party pass the 5 percent threshold of votes required to enter parliament.

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    Comments
         
    by: Paul from: Atlanta
    March 11, 2016 10:37 AM
    Its a different world now, folks. Putin has breathed new life into his Serbian allies. These guys have a legitimate bone to pick with the EU and NATO. They are also the first line of defense against the next Muslim onslaught.

    by: blazo from: Belgrade
    March 11, 2016 8:03 AM
    Seselj was the most popular political leader in Serbia, his party got more vote at elections, than any other. His party program vas "No to EU no to NATO". Then he was falsly charged for war crimes, and called to present himself to court in Hague. He was kept there illegaly without any verdict for 11 years, just to prevent him to take part in political life of Serbia, and to install in Belgrade puppet government with vassal position to EU and USA, betrayung Serbian national interests.

    by: Dr. Jonathan Levy from: USA
    March 11, 2016 7:52 AM
    Dr. Seselj has taken on the neo cons and their Islamic allies.

    by: Bob Kebic from: Los Angeles
    March 11, 2016 7:28 AM
    First: I'm not a fan of Voislav Seselj! At the same time he managed to disprove any and all accusations to his direct involvement in Yugo civil war! He did, however, disrespect the (kangaroo) court in Hague and for his "fiery speeches" the appropriate (actually EXCESSIVE) punishment should be "the time served"! Just get over it! Why don't Hague goes after the illegal "organ trafficking" by Kosovo Liberation Army - most of those killed for organ harvesting were innocent Serbian civilians! The western hypocrisy is truly unconscionable and only displays (western) politicians slaving over Saudi' money/bribe! NATO truly became a disgrace to civilized world.

    by: Bojan from: Serbia
    March 11, 2016 3:40 AM
    Its Serbian patriot, not nationalist.

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