In the supplement to the motion to assign counsel to Vojislav Seselj, the prosecution notes that the accused has failed to comply with the Trial Chamber’s order to remove from his website the book in which he disclosed information on protected witnesses. The prosecution filed the motion in July 2008; in the meantime Seselj has been convicted for contempt of court on those charges

Vojislav Seselj in the courtroomVojislav Seselj in the courtroom

One year after filing the motion to assign counsel to Vojislav Seselj, the prosecution has now submitted additional evidence allegedly showing that the accused has abused his right for self-representation.

On 28 July 2008, the prosecution filed its first motion to revoke Seselj’s right to self-representation, to exclude his legal advisors from the proceedings and to appoint counsel to him. The prosecution submitted a comprehensive brief describing Seselj’s behavior in and out of court, with about a thousand pages of appendices listing individual examples of intimidation, persecution and abusive behavior towards witnesses.

In its latest motion, the prosecution notes that Seselj’s current behavior in and out of the courtroom ‘interferes with the proper and undisturbed exercise of the functions of the Court, and constitutes a persistent and substantial interference in the conduct of proceedings’. As alleged by the prosecution, counsel could be imposed on Seselj based on the judgment for contempt of court handed down on 24 July 2009. Seselj was sentenced to 15 months for disclosing information on protected witnesses in one of his books. The judgment qualified Seselj’s behavior as “a deliberate and continued disrespect for various protective measure orders of this Trial Chamber, a serious interference with the administration of justice and, the disregard for the safety of witnesses”. This, the prosecution went on, “sheds light on Seselj’s representations to the Chamber – as a self-represented accused - about maintaining the confidentiality of material disclosed to him”. The prosecution also noted that on 12 June 2008, when he spoke about the contents of the controversial book, Seselj ‘lied to the Trial Chamber’ by claiming that all the information published therein was public anyway.

There is more proof that Seseslj has no respect for the Trial Chamber’s orders: Seselj refused to remove the controversial book with the information on protected witnesses from his website. Seselj has also failed to deliver a report to the ICTY Registry by 7 August 2009 detailing the measures taken to that purpose.

The prosecution notes that both the Appeals Chamber and the Trial Chamber have cautioned Seselj on countless occasions that his behavior and violation of witness protection orders in particular might lead to his right to self-representation being revoked. Seselj’s conduct is aimed at the ‘core of the process’ and especially against the ability of the Trial Chamber to secure the presence of witnesses who would then be able to give evidence freely.

Because of that, the motion concludes, ‘Seselj’s right for self-representation must be terminated and defense counsel should be imposed on him’.