The Appeals Chamber overturns the decision of the Trial Chamber granting the motion filed by Vojislav Seselj in which he challenged the jurisdiction of the Tribunal over crimes against humanity committed in Vojvodina in 1992, as alleged in the indictment against the leader of the Serb Radical Party

Vojislav Seselj in the courtroomVojislav Seselj in the courtroom

The Appeals Chamber overturned the decision of the Trial Chamber in the Vojislav Seselj case, in which the motion of the accused challenging the jurisdiction of the ICTY over the crimes committed in 1992 in Vojvodina was partially granted.

In the overturned decision, the Trial Chamber had ordered the prosecution to eliminate "ambiguities” as to whether there was a state of armed conflict in Vojvodina at the time when the alleged crimes against Croats were committed. The state of armed conflict is the precondition for some offences – in this case, the expulsion of Croats from the Vojvodina village of Hrtkovci - to be qualified as crimes against humanity.

The indictment alleges that there was a link between the events in Hrtkovci and the "armed conflict in other parts of the former Yugoslavia." The Trial Chamber found this to be "ambiguous" and ordered the prosecution to present evidence of the existence of the state of armed conflict in Vojvodina, stating that if it failed to do so, the Chamber would delete all counts of the indictment relating to the alleged crimes against humanity in 1992 in Vojvodina.

The Appeals Chamber accepted the arguments proffered by the prosecution and found that the Trial Chamber interpreted the term "armed conflict" narrowly in the sense of existence of "combat" or "violence", rather than in the wider legal sense of the "state of armed conflict", which has been adopted in the Tribunal's jurisprudence.

In this specific case, the prosecution must prove that a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population in the village of Hrtkovci occurred during the armed conflict in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that there was a link between the attack on civilians in Vojvodina and conflicts in the neighboring countries.