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Serb nationalist leader on trial at ICTY for war crimes

[JURIST] The trial of Serb nationalist leader and war crimes defendant Vojislav Seselj [BBC profile; ICTY case backgrounder, PDF] began Wednesday at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [official website]. The prosecution in its opening statement told the court that Seselj incited atrocities through hateful speeches he made during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. Seselj is charged [indictment, PDF] with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes, and is accused of establishing rogue paramilitary units affiliated with the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) [party website, in Serbian], which are believed to have massacred and otherwise persecuted Croats and other non-Serbs during the Balkan conflict.

Last year, Seselj agreed to end his nearly month-long hunger strike [JURIST reports] after an ICTY appeals chamber ruled that Seselj could represent himself during trial. The ICTY had previously stripped Seselj of his right to defend himself [JURIST report] after he failed to appear in court, despite an earlier appeals court ruling that he could represent himself [JURIST report] provided he not engage in courtroom antics that "substantially obstruct the proper and expeditious proceedings in his case." BBC News has more. AFP has additional coverage.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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