The Documenta - Centre for Dealing with the Past non-governmental association on Friday condemned a decision by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) that indictee Vojislav Seselj was not compelled to attend a sentence hearing scheduled for March 31, assessing that this represented the "tribunal's capitulation."
Documenta believes that this brings the tribunal and its work and objective into question and that it undermines its contribution to building trust in those areas engulfed by war and does not offer any hope to the families of victims that justice will be satisfied.
Seselj, who voluntarily surrendered to the ICTY on 24 March 2003 was charged with the expulsion of non-Serbs based on political, racial and religious grounds, deportation and inhumane acts, violation of the laws and customs of war and crimes against humanity against Croats and Bosniaks in Croatia, Vojvodina, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period from 1991 to 1993.
On 12 November 2014, the ICTY granted Seselj provisional release for humanitarian reasons, that is, his poor state of health caused by liver cancer.
"We believe that the tribunal's decision raises the question of just how the Tribunal's work contributes to building trust in these regions," Documenta said in a statement, recalling that it had appealed to the UN and the governments of Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia for Seselj to be returned to the ICTY's detention unit.
"Seselj is a symbol in these regions of the spreading of ethnic hate and warmongering rhetoric," Documenta said. "This decision does not offer any hope to the families of the victims that justice will be executed," Eugen Jakovcic said, explaining that the trial was very important for those families. "They are carefully following the trial and will come to the sentence," Jakovcic added.
"The trial which began in 2007 and ended in March 2012 has been waiting for a trial verdict for almost nine years," Documenta said and recalled that Seselj had in the meantime been sentenced three times for contempt of court and threatening witnesses, which suspended the proceedings on several occasions.
The ICTY prosecution requested on 1 December 2015 that Seselj be returned to The Hague on the grounds that during his provisional release, with his behaviour, he undermined the spirit of the provisional release, the trial chamber however, rejected the request.
In January, following intensive therapy, Seselj said the cancer was in recession and that he is "the healthiest on the Serb political scene."