When Vojislav Seselj reaffirmed at a status conference his adherence to the "creation of Greater Serbia" along well-known lines, the judge interrupted him, advising him to "ponder in the silence of his cell" the so-called non-disputed facts presented by the prosecution.

Vojislav Seselj in the courtroomVojislav Seselj in the courtroom

Although the pre-trial judge warned him before giving him the floor that he would not tolerate any "political speeches," Vojislav Seselj demanded today to be allowed to hold a press conference for Serb reporters in the next 10 days in support of Tomislav Nikolic's bid to win Serbia's presidential election. Deciding this demand was outside the scope of a status conference, Judge Agius interrupted Seselj and adjourned the hearing.

The Maltese judge had interrupted Seselj before "for his own good," to prevent him "from running ahead of himself, making statements which might be used against him later." Talking about "non-disputed facts" presented to him by prosecutors, Seselj expressed his willingness to state his views on them orally. He read out the first of the four facts the prosecution proposes as "non-disputed":

"The Serbian Radical Party and I personally will never relinquish the efforts to create Greater Serbia which will unite all Serb land east of the Karlobag-Ogulin-Karlovac-Virovitica line."

Seselj said he was willing to accept this as a non-disputed fact, with an addendum. The addendum is that both the SRS and he personally "advocate the fraternal concord and unity of Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Serbs, Muslim Serbs and Protestant Serbs." and that the war in the Balkans was "mostly a war among Serbs."

Deciding that this and the other proposed "non-disputed facts" were at the very core of the prosecution's case against Seselj, the judge interrupted the accused and advised him to "ponder all this in the silence of his cell" and to consult his legal counsel before saying anything on the topic.

Seselj, however, claims that he has been prohibited from communicating with his counsel, since the Registry has not formally accepted lawyers Maja Gojkovic and Slavko Jerkovic as his legal advisers, who submitted a bill of $200,000 for their work last year. Seselj says he forwarded the bill to the Tribunal Registry, since he himself is able to pay only a fraction of it.

The hearing today was mostly devoted to the prosecution's disclosure of evidentiary material and the demands of the accused to have all statements where his name is mentioned disclosed to him, including all judgments, defense and prosecution motions and all decisions rendered by all trial and appeals chambers in the past 10 years. Seselj says he wants to study the Tribunal's case law thoroughly to prepare for trial.

No trial date was mentioned today, apart from Seselj's statement, quoting "Registry sources," that the trial is planned to begin in 2007. Judge Agius says he does "not know anything about this year being mentioned." The prosecution stated it plans to call 63 witnesses who will testify in the courtroom and 40 witnesses who will be deposed. Seselj opposed this, saying he would "challenge any such deposition" if he is not "given an opportunity to cross-examine these witnesses."

Noting that the Chief Prosecutor and Tribunal and OTP spokespeople often mention him in their statements, Seselj demanded to be allowed to hold a press conference once a month in which he would speak about the status of his case. He also expressed displeasure at the way his courtroom appearances are presented in SENSE TV programs.