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War Crimes Court Excuses Serbian Seselj From Attending Verdict

Vojislav Seselj in front of special court
Vojislav Seselj in front of special court

United Nations war crimes judges will deliver their verdict against radical Serb leader Vojislav Seselj in his absence for medical reasons, the court announced on March 16.

The firebrand nationalist had refused to return to The Hague under an earlier compulsory court summons, so the court's decision averted a potential confrontation between the European Union and Serbia that could have led to EU sanctions.

Seselj is accused of inciting persecution and ethnic cleansing by Serbs during the wars that accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia. He remains popular among some of the right-wing government's supporters.

The Hague judges said they received confidential information on Seselj's health from Serbian authorities which led them to lift their order for him to be present for his verdict on nine charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity on March 31.

"It appears...that the medical treatment can neither be interrupted nor carried out in The Hague," judges wrote.

In 2014, the court released Seselj to undergo cancer treatment and he has refused to go back. He says he is planning to run for parliament in Serbia's April elections as leader of the Serbian Radical Party.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

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