kolinda grabar kitarović.jpg
Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Photograph: HINA / Denis CERIĆ / POOL / mm

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Thursday strongly criticised the Hague tribunal's acquittal of Vojislav Seselj, describing it as a shameful defeat for international criminal law.

Earlier in the day, the ICTY acquitted the Serbian Radical Party leader on all counts of his indictment charging him with war crimes in Croatia, Vojvodina and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Today's acquittal of one of the worst criminals in our region is really a huge blow to international criminal law. It is actually shameful," Grabar-Kitarovic told reporters in Sofia during an official visit.

"If you consider the fact that the Hague tribunal sentenced Seselj to four years and nine months in prison just for contempt and for threatening witnesses in some cases, and that it acquitted him today of charges of warmongering and incitement to the extermination of whole ethnic groups and to genocide, this indeed can be nothing but a defeat for international criminal law," said Grabar-Kitarovic.

"Today we pray for all his victims and for the victims of the Great Serbian ideology, from Vukovar and Skabrnja to Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Kosovo," she added.

"It is also a fact that Croatia today is a free and independent country and no one will take that away from us," she said, stressing that "Seselj's policy suffered its first and biggest defeat exactly in Croatia". "And there is no going back on that. Let's bear that in mind."

"Croatia cannot and will not accept this shameful verdict and we will continue doing our best to have justice served. International law may have failed today, but justice will not, rest assured," said Grabar-Kitarovic.

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