As the special Panel of judges hasn’t yet ruled on the prosecution’s motion for the reconsideration of the decision to disqualify Judge Harhoff, and as Judge Antonetti has yet to receive the clarifications from the Panel he has demanded, Vojislav Seselj’s judgment will be postponed until further notice. The judgment was initially supposed to be rendered on 30 October 2013

Jean-Claude Antonetti, presiding judge in the Seselj trialJean-Claude Antonetti, presiding judge in the Seselj trial

The judgment in the case against Vojislav Seselj, the Serbian Radical Party leader, charged with crimes against humanity in Vojvodina, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been postponed until further notice. Presiding judge Jean Claude Antonetti today revoked his order of 12 April 2013, in which the judgment was scheduled to be delivered on 30 October 2013.

The postponement is caused by the fact that the Tribunal has granted Seselj’s motion to disqualify one of the judges in the Trial Chamber hearing Seselj’s case. Seselj wanted the Danish judge Frederik Harhoff disqualified because of a leaked letter in which Harhoff expressed his concern over the Tribunal’s ‘new course’. He thus purportedly created an ‘impression of bias’ in favor of convicting the accused. Two members of the special Panel tasked with considering the accused’s motion – judges Moloto and Hall – accepted Seselj’s argument and Judge Harhoff was disqualified on 28 August 2013. The third member of the commission, Judge Liu, was categorically against the disqualification but was outvoted.

In the meantime, the prosecution has filed a motion for the reconsideration of the decision of 28 August 2013, and Judge Antonetti has asked the Panel to explain if in considering the Harhoff case it took into account the opinion he had submitted as the Trial Chamber’s presiding judge, strongly opposing the disqualification.

As the special Panel hasn’t yet ruled on the motion for the reconsideration or provided the clarification sought by Judge Antonetti, and as in the meantime the coordinator of the legal advisors working on the Seselj case has left the Tribunal, the presiding judge has no choice but to postpone until further notice the rendering of the judgment, initially slated for 30 October 2013.

If Seselj is acquitted or if he is sentenced to a term shorter than the ten and a half years he has already spent in detention, then the fact that his motion to disqualify the Danish judge has been granted will mean he himself will have extended his detention in the UN prison.