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Serbian Ultra-Nationalist Leader Surrenders to War Crimes Tribunal - 2003-02-24

Serbian ultra-nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj has surrendered to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Hague. He faces charges of atrocities and crimes against humanity from the wars in Croatia and Bosnia

The Serbian political leader voluntarily turned himself in to the tribunal. He was quoted earlier as saying he did so to destroy the tribunal, and predicted he will go home from the Hague victorious.

But a spokeswoman for the prosecution said his decision to surrender was good, and that others who are indicted should follow his example.

Mr. Seselj is accused of forming a paramilitary group know as "Seselj's Men," which is accused of a series of atrocities as Yugoslavia collapsed in bloodshed during the 1990s. The indictment charges him with involvement in killings and expulsions of non-Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia between 1991 and 1993.

Mr. Seselj has acknowledged that his party deployed thousands of volunteers, but says they are not guilty of war crimes. He has described them as Serbian heroes and freedom fighters.

During the war in Croatia, he said his opponents should have their eyes gouged out with rusty spoons. But later he claimed the remark was a joke.

Mr. Seselj heads Serbia's nationalist Radical Party. He finished second in last December's Serbian presidential elections, which were annulled because of insufficient voter turnout.

His case is the latest move by U.N. prosecutors to bring to justice allies of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, who has been on trial at the Hague for one year on charges of war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo.