The Serbian Radical Party leader compared his war-mongering speeches with the French national anthem and declared he had ‘triumphed’ against the Tribunal. Seselj claimed he couldn’t ‘care less’ if he is convicted or not, explaining that the only adequate sentence for him was life imprisonment. The trial has ended and the parties will now await the judgment

Vojislav Seselj in the courtroomVojislav Seselj in the courtroom

On the last day of his closing argument, Vojislav Seselj said he ‘couldn’t care less’ if he is be convicted or not, admitting he has used the trial for crimes against civilians in Croatia, Vojvodina and BH as an ‘open public discussion forum to deal with the Tribunal and the dark foreign forces behind it’. As Seselj said, he was sure he wasn’t guilty of the murders, persecution, torture, deportation and forcible transfer of non-Serb civilians. The prosecutors claimed in their closing arguments that they had proven Seselj’s responsibility for those crimes and sought a 28-year prison sentence.

In his presentation today, Seselj elaborated the argument he presented last week that he couldn’t be found guilty of incitement to persecution through hate speech. Under international law, only ‘direct and public’ incitement to genocide is a crime, not incitement to ‘run of the mill’ war crimes and crimes against humanity that Seselj is charged with by the prosecution. Seselj used the judgment in the case against former Bosnian Croat officials Dario Kordic and Mario Cerkez to support his claim. Kordic and Cerkez were acquitted of using propaganda for the purpose of persecution, but were convicted of other crimes.

The accused believes that his public appearances didn’t ‘significantly contribute […] in any fragment’ to the commission of the crimes. Seselj claimed that his speeches merely happened to coincide with the crimes. Seselj justified the harsh rhetoric he used by saying that in a war you don’t praise your enemy but attack him. In over a hundred of his public appearances he quoted verses of the French anthem La Marseillaise to drive this message home. Seselj today recited the text of the French anthem in court.

Seselj then embarked on a lengthy history lesson in which he tried to corroborate his claims that large parts of the former Yugoslavia, from Macedonia to Western Slavonia and Krajina belonged to the Serbs. Seselj used a good part of his presentation today for his showdown with the Tribunal’s Registrar because of his decisions to restrict Seselj’s communications and prevent him from taking part in the political campaign from the detention unit. Today Seselj didn’t miss the chance to accuse his political opponents and former party colleagues of betrayal and collaboration with foreign secret services.

Seselj called his trial ‘a political trick’ from which he emerged ‘triumphant’. ‘This trial is over, but no one cared to tell you’, Seselj told the judges. Seselj said he surely wouldn’t be able to serve the full 28-year sentence. In light of his opposition to the USA, NATO and the European Union and his hatred towards the Tribunal, Seselj said the most adequate sentence would be life in prison: that sentence he ‘could serve in its entirety’. ‘My glory awaits me and the political triumph awaits the Serbian Radical Party at the upcoming elections’, Seselj said, concluding his closing argument.

This time, the prosecution diverged from the usual practice and didn’t deliver its response to the defense’s closing arguments. As prosecutor Marcussen explained, Seselj presented political rather than legal arguments. Judge Antonetti declared the end of the trial and indicated that the pronouncement of the judgment would be scheduled later.