This case summary is part of a collection of summaries describing the cases before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). See the Online Resource Hub pages on the ICTY and International Criminal Law, and the table of ICTY case summaries for additional information.
Trial Judgment: 31 March 2016; MICT Appeal Judgment: 11 April 2018
Vojislav Šešelj, the founder of the SRS and member of the Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, stood trial for allegedly having planned, ordered, instigated, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation or execution of crimes against non-Serbs in the territories of the SAO SBWS and in the municipalities of Vukovar, Zvornik, Mostar, and Nevesinje, including: the prolonged and routine confinement of non-Serb civilians in detention facilities and the establishment and perpetuation of inhumane living conditions in the detention facilities; the forced labor of non-Serbs detained in the detention facilities, including grave digging, trench digging, and other forms of labor at the front lines; the deportation or forcible transfer of tens of thousands of non-Serb civilians; the deliberate destruction of homes, public and private property, cultural institutions, historic monuments, and sacred sites of non-Serb civilians; and direct and public denigration of non-Serb populations through hate speech. The prosecution accused Šešelj of participating in a joint criminal enterprise and of individual criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity for persecutions, deportation, and inhumane acts of forcible transfer and for violations of the laws or customs of war for murder, torture and cruel treatment, wanton destruction, destruction or willful damage done to religious or educational institutions, and plunder of public or private property.
In 2016, the ICTY Trial Chamber acquitted Šešelj on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove the existence of a criminal purpose, a legal requirement to demonstrate that a joint criminal enterprise existed; that Šešelj was not the commander of volunteers recruited under Šešelj; and that the alleged acts of hate speech were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and that a reasonable person could consider that they were meant to boost morale rather than call for troops to spare no person.
The prosecution appealed the trial judgment. On April 11, 2018, the MICT Appeals Chamber reversed Šešelj’s acquittals, in part, convicting him on the charges of deportation, forcible displacement, forcible transfer, and persecution. The Appeals Chamber sentenced Šešelj to 10 years’ imprisonment, which it declared he had already served while awaiting trial.