The leader of the Serbian Radical Party, Vojislav Seselj, said on Thursday that the Hague war crimes tribunal's non-final verdict acquitting him of war crimes and a joint criminal enterprise removed "the stain from the Serbian people", announcing that he would seek EUR 14 million in damages from the tribunal for the time spent in custody.

Addressing a news conference, Seselj said that the acquittal was "the only possible ruling from the legal point of view" and that he was not interested in comments and reactions to it in countries in the region, but that he would respond "if they exceed what is tolerable."

He added that he was not interested in reactions of the Croatian public and politicians, saying that if Croatians continued with strong-worded comments, he would "change their state leadership", just as he had done before "by replacing (former president Ivo) Josipovic and (former prime minister Zoran) Milanovic", after which he brought "my dear Kolinda,"  to power.

Addressing reporters in his party's offices, Seselj said that two judges in the trial chamber in charge of his case "have demonstrated professionalism, honour and integrity, resisting political pressure."

He expressed regret that other convicted Serbs did not have such judges. "I regret that Milan Martic, who is in custody, Zdravko Tolimir, who was killed, Radovan Karadzic and many others did not have honourable and fair judges," Seselj said.

He said that his attitude to the Hague tribunal, "as an anti-Serb court and instrument of the new world order has not changed a bit."

Asked if now his idea of Great Serbia would die because he had said before the tribunal, "the stiffer the sentence the stronger the idea", Seselj said that the idea of Great Serbia was strong without him as well because he had contributed to it with his political engagement.

Seselj said that if paid damages, he would donate them for humanitarian purposes.

He also said that he would not sue Serbia.

Commenting on political circumstances after his acquittal, he said that he hoped for a better result at early parliamentary elections set for April 24 and that he expected 20-25% of the votes.

"But we would like best if we won more votes than the Progressive Party," he said, adding that his acquittal also meant that charges would be dropped against three members of his party charged with intimidation of witnesses.

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