Challenging the evidence of protected witness VS 2000, Vojislav Seselj today said that as an educated man he would never call Muslims ‘pagans’: he knew that ‘Mohammad founded a new religion on the basis of Judaism and Christianity, infusing them with a new meaning but keeping the faith in one God’. One of the allegations in the indictment is supported by the claims of witness VS 2000

Vojislav Seselj in the courtroomVojislav Seselj in the courtroom

In his examination-in chief yesterday, protected witness VS 2000 described his first encounter with Vojislav Seselj in mid-March 1992 at a Serbian Radical Party rally in the culture hall in Mali Zvornik. On that occasion Seselj said that the ‘time has come to show balijas [Muslims] their place’: they should be sent east via ‘the green transversal’, because that’s where they belong, the witness recounted. He then went on to describe how the rally ended with a fight in front of the culture hall, between Chetniks and those who, to put it mildly, didn’t like the nationalist and warmongering views of vojvoda Seselj.

Today, in the cross-examination of witness VS 2000 the accused tried to prove that the rally was not held in March 1992 but in August 1990, and that it was not organized by the Serbian Radical Party. At that time, the party didn’t exist yet, and the rally was organized by the Serbian Chetnik Movement. According to Seselj, he didn’t insult Muslims then or threaten that they would be expelled along the ‘green transversal’. To corroborate his claims Seselj showed articles and photos published in the newspapers Velika Srbija in August 1999, describing in detail the rally in Mali Zvornik, vojvoda Seselj’s speech and the all-our brawl that followed.

Since witness VS 2000 is the only prosecution witness to testify about that rally, Seselj argued that one of the allegations in the indictment was based solely on a single statement the witness had given to the OTP investigators in 1996. The indictment alleges that the Serbian Radical Party leader delivered a message from Mali Zvornik on the eve of the conflict in Zvornik itself, when he said that Chetniks would ‘clean Bosnia of pagans and show them their way east where they belong’.

When the judges asked if there was any other evidence about the rally and Seselj’s purported message, the prosecution promised it would go through the archives. The prosecutor added that a police document notes that Vojislav Seselj – who was in the Serbian parliament at the time – visited Mali Zvornik on 17 March 1992, stayed there for a while and then went on to Ljubovija. The document didn’t specify the length of his stay or what Seselj had said or done during time in Mali Zvornik.

Since Seselj's arrival in The Hague in February 2003, he has been ridiculing the prosecution for alleging that he called Muslims ‘pagans’. As Seselj put it, as an educated person he could never say they were ‘a godless people’. He knew that ‘Mohammed established a new religion on the basis of Judaism and Christianity, infusing them with a new meaning but keeping the faith in one God’. He however allowed it was possible that he may have used the term ‘heathens’, but never ‘pagans’.