Vojislav Seselj may file his specific requests pertaining to the disclosure of documents only in writing, the pre-trial judge decides. A video recording of Seselj's interview in English is shown at his status conference

Vojislav Seselj in the courtroomVojislav Seselj in the courtroom

Carmel Agius, the pre-trial judge in the case of Vojislav Seselj, again tried to protect the accused from himself at today’s status conference. The judge would not allow Seselj to respond orally to views presented by the prosecution about the so-called stipulated facts or to argue his specific demands related to the disclosure of exculpatory material.

Judge Agius explained he was guided by the fact that "the accused did not have adequate legal assistance, since he is defending himself," and that "if he were to respond to the prosecution without professional assistance, he might say something that might be used against him."

At issue is Seselj's demand that all evidentiary material be disclosed to him "on paper, exclusively," not in electronic format (on CD-ROM) and "exclusively in the Serbian language." Prosecutor Hildegard Uertz-Retzlaff explained that on several occasions, the OTP gave the accused CDs with disclosure materials, but he always refused to take receipt of them; the last time was on 30 September. The prosecution considers that by disclosing the documents in electronic form it has met its obligations and does not have to repeat the exercise.

Seselj demanded today that he be given additional evidence he believes is exculpatory – on paper and in Serbian, of course. He said he knew "from reliable sources that the prosecution has documents dealing with the Serbian Guard," which was, he said, "established by Vuk Draskovic, who staffed it with Belgrade criminals." Those documents would be, in Seselj's opinion, "of great importance for [his] defense."

To counter Seselj's obstinate refusal to take receipt of documents in English, the prosecutor showed part of an interview Vojislav Seselj gave to a German TV channel during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. In the interview, Seselj responds directly to questions asked in English; he even says a few English phrases himself.

Seselj protested against the showing of the recording, saying that "on the basis of a couple of English words, one cannot draw the conclusion that he is able to study serious legal texts in English." Judge Agius, however, ruled that his remark was unnecessary, stressing that the Rules of the Tribunal guaranteed him certain rights that would be respected.

After several attempts to get the accused to answer the question of whether he wanted to file a written motion with the Chamber regarding the disclosure issue, Judge Agius gave him three weeks to do so. The prosecution, he went on to say, would get the same amount of time to respond to any written motions filed by the accused.

The prosecution confirmed today that it intended to call 64 witnesses and to submit depositions from another 40. The accused, the pre-trial judge noted, insists on cross-examining even those witnesses who will be deposed, but the prosecution announced it will submit a detailed motion arguing which witnesses should be cross-examined. The next status conference should be held within 120 days, in early February 2005.