Hague judge replies to Croatian president

Reconciliation in the Balkans is a task for leaders rather than the Hague Tribunal, although it has a role in this process, Theodor Meron has said.

Source: Tanjug

The U.S. judge who presides over the tribunal (ICTY) thus responded to a letter sent by Croatian President Ivo Josipović, who criticized the court's decision to release Vojislav Šešelj, whose war crimes trial is still ongoing, "without any conditions."

The judge also wrote that a verdict in this case will be passed as soon as possible, "immediately after July 2015."

"While I understand your concern about the provisional release of Vojislav Šešelj and the possible impact of this event on the process of reconciliation in the Balkans, as well as the role of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the process, I always believed that politicians, religious and other community leaders within their societies should be the ones to accelerate it," Meron wrote in his response to Josipović.

Josipović previously voiced his dissatisfaction with the release of Šešelj by saying that "the potential escalation of Šešelj's political activities and his hate speech are a serious threat to peace and stability in Southeast Europe."

"With this, fear is spread among people, especially among the victims and witnesses, and it undermines the reputation of international justice. I appeal on you that the court does everything in its power to restore the shaken trust in international justice and not to allow that Šešelj to demean the victim with his activities," wrote the Croatian president.

He also warned Meron that the fact there was no ruling in the case even after 12 years eroded the reputation of the court, the Croatian daily Jutarnji List reported.

Meron replied that, although he presided over the court, he had no great influence on the cases that he was not involved in, but assured Josipović that a verdict would be passed "soon after July 2015" - the deadline demanded by the current judge to learn about the case, considering that the previous judge withdrew from the process.

Meron added that several things influenced the case, "such as the insufficient number number of courtrooms, the medical condition of the accused, and the fact he is defending himself, as well as the replacing of a judge."


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