Šešelj returns to Serbia, addresses supporters

Vojislav Šešelj has returned to Serbia after spending eleven and a half years in detention at the Hague Tribunal in the Netherlands.

Source: B92

His plane touched down at Belgrade's Nikola Tesla International shortly before 13:00 CET, where family members, his party officials and activists all gathered to welcome him.

A brass band and his supporters chanting, "Vojo, Serb," and lighting flares were waiting outside the airport building.

Although it was announced Šešelj would address reporters, this did not happen and he instead immediately left the airport and headed for the Serb Radical Party (SRS) party headquarters in Zemun.

There he addressed his supporters from a balcony.

"The Hague threw me out of the dungeon in a brutal manner. I did not ask for it, nor did they set any conditions. They just wanted to get rid of me as soon as possible. I promised I would tear the Hague Tribunal apart. The struggle lasted somewhat longer, but one doesn't look a gift victory in the mouth," he said.

The SRS leader then noted that he was told at the Hague his freedom was temporary, and added that "this temporary leave will last until he overthrows Tomislav Nikolić and Aleksandar Vučić."

Nikolić and Vučić formed the Serb Progressive Party (SNS) as an offshoot of the SRS in 2008, amid political acrimony.

Šešelj today described them as politicians who renounced the ideology of Serb nationalism, becoming instead "servants of western powers." He said the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague was "a wounded globalist beast that destroys the lives of Serb political and military leaders."

Ahead of his arrival, his supporters gathered at the airport sang Chetnik songs and shouted insults against the city authorities in Belgrade and especially the leader of the Serb Progressives (SNS) and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić.

Šešelj is accused of war crimes before the Hague Tribunal, to which he voluntarily surrendered in early 2003. His trial is still ongoing, and the provisional release was granted by the court for medical reasons, as the accused is ill with cancer.

Ahead of traveling to The Hague in February 2003, Šešelj remarked that "a bloody spring was coming." The assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić took place the following month.

Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia President Sonja Biserko and sociologist Slobodan Antonić will be guests on B92 TV at 20:00 CET tonight to discuss Šešelj's return, and whether he could now make any statements regarding the Đinđić assassination.


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