Today, the ICTY Prosecutor, Serge Brammertz stated that his Office will appeal the acquittal of Vojislav Šešelj.
The Office of the Prosecutor considers that there has been “a fundamental failure” by the Trial Chamber Majority to perform its judicial function and to properly adjudicate core aspects of the Prosecution’s case by, among other things, failing to consider large parts of the evidentiary record, making unreasonable and conflicting factual findings, or failing to properly apply the elements of modes of liability such as joint criminal enterprise and aiding and abetting in accordance with established case-law.
Moreover, the Prosecution explains that the Trial Chamber Majority unreasonably allowed for the possibility that criminal conduct was simply a lawful contribution to the war effort, despite the overwhelming body of evidence pointing against it. According to the Prosecution, this led the Trial Chamber Majority to unreasonably credit the possibility that: expelling civilians was a humanitarian gesture; that incendiary hate speech was simply morale boosting for the Serb forces; and that the deployment of ethnic cleansing forces was a measure to protect the Serb population.
Vojislav Šešelj, 61, had been charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and six of war crimes over ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Bosnia and the Serbian province of Vojvodina between August 1991 and September 1993.
The charges involved the forcible transfer of tens of thousands of civilians; torture, sexual assaults, beatings and other physical abuse of detained non-Serbs; the destruction of homes, religious sites, cultural institutions; and hate speech.
However, the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found that in the absence of any “crucial legal elements” to establish any form of criminal responsibility it was not possible to convict Šešelj for crimes against humanity.
The Prosecution had moreover not provided sufficient evidence to establish that the alleged war crimes were committed.
The Trial Chamber Majority found that it could not rule out the reasonable possibility that Šešelj incendiary speeches, calling for killing and revenge against his enemies, were “meant to boost the morale” of his followers, and were not crimes.