The Serbian Radical Party leader remained adamant and refused to participate in his trial on the third contempt of court indictment; he claims his right to due process has been violated. The Trial Chamber remained adamant too, and insisted on the trial despite the fact that the accused refused to call any evidence. The trial was over in 13 minutes

Vojislav Seselj in the courtroomVojislav Seselj in the courtroom

This morning, Vojislav Seselj was tried on the third contempt of court indictment. Last week, the trial was adjourned because the accused refused to participate in the proceedings. Seselj is on trial for repeatedly refusing to remove from his website the confidential material disclosing the identity of protected prosecution witnesses. The trial today was over in less than 13 minutes.

Although Seselj had initially indicated he would testify as the only defense witness and then present the closing argument, last week he refused to participate in the trial. When the ICTY Registry refused to appoint Nemanja Sarovic, who belongs to Seselj’s political party, as Seselj’s case manager and pay for his trip to The Hague, Seselj claimed he had been denied his right to due process. Judge Trechsel’s Trial Chamber proceeded to adjourn the trial until today, noting this was to give the accused a chance to ‘reconsider’ his position. The Trial Chamber was adamant it wouldn’t change its position on Sarovic’s appointment.

Today, Seselj restated his position of the last week and the trial was quickly brought to its end. The presiding judge stressed that ‘all evidence necessary for the case’ had been admitted and as far as the Trial Chamber was concerned there was no need to call additional evidence. In this case, the Trial Chamber also acts as the prosecution. In the judges’ view, it was a ‘very simple case’ and there was no need to employ Sarovic.

The indictment was issued in May 2011 because at least six times Seselj ‘deliberately and willfully’ refused to comply with the Trial Chamber’s orders to remove from his website four books and six confidential filings disclosing information on protected witnesses. In the meantime, Seselj failed to comply with two other Trial Chamber’s binding orders and the indictment was amended twice. The Trial Chamber has in its possession the written reply of Nikola Seselj, the son of the accused and the webmaster of Seselj’s website. Nikola Seselj told the judges that he had ‘no intention of complying with the Trial Chamber’s orders’ because his father was ‘the only person who can decide on the contents of the Internet presentation’.

Since his arrival in The Hague, Seselj has claimed on a number of occasions that he is the ‘best lawyer in the entire Tribunal’. Today, however, Seselj said the fact he was representing himself didn’t mean he had to sit on his own in court, admitting that he needed ‘professional, expert and technical assistance’.

Seselj has already been convicted twice for disclosing the information about protected prosecution witnesses in his books. The Appeals Chamber confirmed the sentence of 15 months and the Trial Chamber sentenced Seselj to 18 months in prison. The exact manner in which Seselj will serve his sentences will be known in March 2013, when the Trial Chamber is expected to hand down its judgment in Seselj’s ‘main case’ for crimes in Croatia, Vojvodina and BH.