Because of the Serbian Radical Party leader’s propensity to publish confidential documents in books and on his website, the prosecution wants to be released from the obligation to disclose statements of three protected witnesses who testified about the crimes committed by Seselj’s men in Vukovar, Brcko and another municipality in BH

Vojislav Seselj in the courtroomVojislav Seselj in the courtroom

In an attempt to prevent Vojislav Seselj’s new literary effort, the prosecution has filed a motion asking to be released from the obligation to disclose statements of three ‘sensitive witnesses’ whose identity remains secret. The prosecution fears that the Serbian Radical Party leader may disclose confidential statement in his books and on his website and thus identify the protected witnesses, just as he has done before.

The motion recalls that the propensity of the accused has already been proven; indeed, it has led to him being charged with contempt of court by the Tribunal three times. Following the first indictment, the Trial Chamber sentenced Seselj to 15 months in prison for disclosing confidential information in one of his books. The Appeals Chamber confirmed the sentence which is now final. After the second indictment containing similar charges, the Trial Chamber sentenced Seselj to 18 months. Seselj was then indicted for the third time for refusing to remove the information from his website. Although Vojislav Seselj’s trial for crimes in Croatia, Vojvodina and BH is over and the Trial Chamber is deliberating, the prosecution is still obliged to disclose documents pertaining to the case that could be useful for the defense.

The first witness, who has been given the pseudonym A, was a member of the Bosnian Serb police in 1992. The witness has already testified in several trials before the Tribunal, in closed session. The prosecution notes in its motion that the witness’s statement contains descriptions of murder, torture and expulsion of hundreds of non-Serb civilians from the municipality where he lived. The witness provided details about the murder of hundreds of persons who had been killed by Serb units. Bodies were later moved to cover up the crime. In his statement, the witness said he hadn’t seen Seselj in the municipality.

Witness B was commander of a JNA special unit and took part in fighting for Vukovar in 1991. The witness testified under a pseudonym and with image and voice distortion as protective measures at a trial in The Hague. In his statement, the witness said that members of the Leva Supoderica unit, headed by commander called Kameni, were loyal to Seselj. Seselj visited the unit on the front and ‘gave them instructions’. On 19 November 1991, the witness saw Major Veselin Sljivancanin preventing the staff of the International Red Cross from visiting the Vukovar Hospital. The witness claimed he heard about the bulldozers being used to bury the bodies of the people from Vukovar who had been killed at Ovcara.

Witness C comes from Brcko and hasn’t testified before the Tribunal because of health problems. In her statement, the witness said that when the conflict broke out in Brcko in May 1992 she sought shelter in the basement of her house together with her relatives and neighbors. Some days later, a group of soldiers in camouflage uniforms came into the house. They spoke Serbian, with an accent typical for Serbia proper and told them they were ‘Seselj’s men’. One of them shot the witness’s spouse in the head. Later the witness was told that her husband was killed in retaliation for the Serb soldiers who had been killed on the front. Women and children were then moved to another location where they were held for six days. Two men were killed: the witness saw their bodies.

The prosecution emphasized the sensitive nature of the three witnesses on the one hand and propensity of the accused to flout the identity protection measures, asking the judges not to disclose the statements. The Trial Chamber is expected to render its judgment to Vojislav Seselj on the indictment for crimes in Croatia, Vojvodina and BH in the spring of 2013. The prosecution has asked for 28 years in prison for him.