Hague prosecutor: No verdict before end of 2015

Chief Hague Prosecutor Serge Brammertz has said that Hague indictee Vojislav Šešelj is "not the first person to be temporarily released."

Source: Beta, Tanjug
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A verdict in his trial "cannot be expected before the end of 2015," the prosecutor revealed.

"Unfortunately, the fact is that after ten years there is no judgement. And you know that the last witness testified in 2010, and since then, the defense has presented no evidence," Brammertz told the N1 television outlet.

The chief prosecutor added that the decision to release Šešelj without any conditions "is not common."

He recalled that the verdict in the case should have been made in October last year, but that one of the judges was dismissed. The new judge sought additional time to familiarize himself with the case, and in combination with the health condition of Šešelj, "these were all reasons for such a decision."

Brammertz added he thought there was not enough reason to dismiss the judge but that as the prosecutor, he must accept the decision of the appeals chamber regardless of his dissatisfaction.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the evidence of the prosecution, Brammertz said that the case has lasted too long, considering his office had presented sufficient evidence to the court.

"The trial was interrupted several times because of the influencing of witnesses, and we presented the strongest evidence. We would not have raised the indictment unless we were sure of it," said Brammertz.

He then rejected Rasim Ljajić's claim that the Hague Tribunal released Šešelj so he would be free, in Serbia, when the verdict is passed.

The prosecutor drew parallels with the Prlić case when defendants were released before the verdict or while awaiting one, and that Šešelj will be called to return to The Hague when the court is ready to rule.

He also said that when it comes to Radovan Karadžić, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić there was no possibility of provisional release because they were on the run before arrest, and that the court granted provisional release only to those who voluntarily surrendered.

Asked to comment on statistics that shows the tribunal in 20 years indicted 161 people, most of them Serbs, the chief prosecutor replied:

"I have never dealt with statistics. The fact is that Serbs are the largest group that is prosecuted. The reason for this is that Serb soldiers were involved in all the conflicts in the region, both in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, and in Kosovo. They had more weapons and a greater ability to commit crimes."

Brammertz is currently visiting Bosnia, and will travel to Serbia next week.

His two-day working visit will come in preparation of his regular report on the work of the Hague prosecution to the UN Security Council.

Šešelj arrived in Serbia on Wednesday after spending nearly 12 years in detention without a verdict.

He was granted provisional release on medical grounds. Šešelj is accused of committing crimes against Croats and Muslims in Croatia, Vojvodina and Bosnia-Herzegovina in early 1990s.

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