Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj, for whom the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will deliver a verdict on March 31, has said that he will not voluntarily go to The Hague and that the ICTY "doesn't interest" him, while Serbian officials have said that the ICTY has brought the Seselj case "to an absurd level and is now looking for a way out."
"Maybe they'll carry me, but I won't go voluntarily. The Hague doesn't interest me at all nor nothing about this. I don't know what will happen, but I won't go," Seselj told Saturday's issue of Blic daily.
The ICTY said yesterday that it would deliver a verdict for Seselj on March 31 and ordered the Serbian authorities to take all the necessary measures to make sure that he attend the hearing. Serbia was given until March 15 to inform the tribunal of any possible difficulties in the execution of the order.
Seslj said the ruling would impact an upcoming extraordinary parliamentary election in Serbia, making the Radicals even stronger.
The chair of the National Council for Cooperation with the ICTY, Rasim Ljajic, said Serbia would notify the ICTY on time about possible difficulties in the execution of the court order, adding that "nothing was done in Seselj's case for 12 years and now they want to wrap everything up in 20 days."
Police Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic told Pink TV that the ICTY's behaviour was "irresponsible" and that it was a veiled "attempt to weaken Serbia's position and destabilise the government."
The ICTY tried Seselj for the persecution of non-Serbs on political, racial and religious grounds, deportation, inhumane treatment and crimes against humanity against Croats and Bosniaks in Croatia, the northern Serbian provinice of Vojvodina and Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1991 to 1993.
Seselj surrendered to the ICTY on 24 March 2003. The ICTY provisionally released him in 2014 due to illness. Upon coming to Serbia, he said he was not running away but that he would not voluntarily go back to The Hague.
In its closing arguments, the prosecution asked for a 28-year prison sentence for Seselj, while asked to be acquitted.