Vojislav Seselj objects to the use of a JNA document describing 'the Chetniks’ looting and their sadistic abuse of innocent Croatian civilians' in Vukovar. In his view, the document 'doesn't speak of the SRS volunteers but of Chetniks'

Reynaud Theunens, witness in the Seselj trialReynaud Theunens, witness in the Seselj trial

In his expert report, the prosecution military expert Reynaud Theunens concludes that different volunteer groups, including those recruited by the Serbian Radical Party leader, the accused Vojislav Seselj, committed a number of crimes against Croatian and Muslim civilians between 1991 and 1993. Today Theunens said that he reached this conclusion primarily on the basis of JNA and VRS documents identifying the volunteers as the perpetrators of crimes against non-Serb civilians.

One of these documents is a telegram sent on 23 November 1991 by a lieutenant Milan Eremija, assistant for the morale in the JNA 1st Proletarian Division, deployed in the Vukovar area, to the Federal Secretariat for National Defense. Eremija complains about the conduct of the volunteers saying that the 'Chetniks’ goal is not to fight but to loot and sadistically abuse innocent Croatian civilians'.

Seselj objected to the 'relevance of the document', noting this document 'speaks of Chetniks and not the SRS volunteers'. In his reply, the expert Theunens explained he had concluded the document spoke of Seselj's men, the volunteers of the Serbian Radical Party, since it is a known fact that they called themselves 'Chetniks' during the war.

According to Theunens, the JNA and the VRS documents show that Seselj's volunteers did not commit crimes only in Vukovar: they went on to do so in Western Slavonia, in BH towns of Bijeljina, Zvornik, Bosanski Samac and Brcko and in some municipalities in Sarajevo.

The cross-examination began with Seselj’s efforts to discredit the prosecution military analyst and to show he was biased. Seselj said that the ‘degree of closeness’ between Theunens and the prosecution could be seen from the amount of his salary, insisting that the witness disclose how much he was paid. His salary had nothing to do with the expert report he authored for the Seselj trial, Theunens said. His job in the OTP wasn’t an obstacle for him testifying as an expert at the trials of Slobodan Milosevic, Milan Martic and the Vukovar Three. In some of these cases, the Trial Chamber explicitly dismissed the defense objections to Theunens’s ‘closeness’ with the prosecution.

Seselj will continue his cross-examination of the prosecution military expert next Tuesday.