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May 28, 2015 10:57 AM

AP Interview: Serb far-right leader to fight extradition

The Associated Press

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Serbia's far-right leader Vojislav Seselj said Thursday he will launch a legal battle before the Serbian courts to fight any order to return to the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.

Seselj told The Associated Press in an interview on Thursday that he has no intention of returning voluntarily to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, and would use the right to appeal extradition under Serbian law.

Seselj, who is accused of recruiting paramilitary forces during the Balkan wars, was released in November for medical treatment in Serbia, but judges have ruled that he has breached the conditions of his release and must be sent back.

Authorities in Serbia have said they are still waiting for a formal arrest order from the U.N. tribunal before they can act. Serbian laws envisage a dayslong court procedure and a possibility of an appeal before a suspect can be handed over to the Hague court.

Seselj said that "there is no way I will go back voluntarily, but I will not hide or run away."

"I will stand a good chance to defend myself against the extradition order," Seselj said. "My basic right to a fair trial has been repeatedly breached in the past 12 years."

Seselj, a hard-line Serbian nationalist whose volunteer units were notorious for atrocities against other ethnic groups during the conflict in the 1990s, first surrendered to the court in 2003 and is awaiting verdicts in his trial, which has been repeatedly delayed.

Seselj's Serbian doctors have said that he is suffering colon cancer that has spread to his liver. Seselj told the AP that he has been receiving cancer treatment in Serbia, but would reject any in tribunal custody.

U.N. prosecutors have demanded a 28-year prison sentence for Seselj. They said his hate speeches at rallies "planted the seeds of ethnic hatred and helped them grow into ethnic violence against non-Serbs."


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