Croatia Shocked with the Šešelj Verdict

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The President and other officials react to the ICTY verdict.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović sharply criticized the acquittal of Vojislav Šešelj, stating that it was a shameful defeat of international criminal law. The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia acquitted today Vojislav Šešelj of all charges of war crimes, reports on March 31, 2016.

“Today’s acquittal of one of the greatest criminals in this region is truly a huge blow to the international criminal law. It is just shameful”, said the President in Sofia, where she is staying on an official visit. “If you consider the fact that the ICTY sentenced Šešelj to four years and nine months in prison just for expressing contempt of court, and that it has acquitted him now of charges of incitement to extermination and destruction of entire nations and genocide, this really cannot be anything other than a defeat of the international criminal law”, she said. “Today we pray for all of his victims and victims of the Greater Serbia policies, from Vukovar and Škabrnja to Sarajevo, Srebrenica, and Kosovo”, she added.

“However, it is also a fact that Croatia today is a free and independent country and that no one will take that away from us”, said the President, adding that “Šešelj’s policies have suffered their first and greatest defeat in Croatia”. “And it is irreversible. Let us think about it. Furthermore, I have to say that Croatia cannot and will not accept this shameful verdict, and we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that justice is served”, said the President.

Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković also criticized the verdict.

Speaker of Parliament Željko Reiner said he hoped “that this was just a mistake by the court” because it was a first-instance verdict and that “justice will win in the end, regardless of the fact that this is a tribunal which makes decisions according to other criteria as well, not only taking law into account”.

First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko said he was horrified with the decision and added that he considered Šešelj to be a “notorious criminal who is laughing at all of us, at the whole world and at the Hague Tribunal which did not know how to convict him”.

The acquittal of Vojislav Šešelj is offensive and shocking for all victims of the Greater Serbia policies and destructive to the reconciliation process, said Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Miro Kovač. “With this judgment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Šešelj has been freed from guilt for crimes against humanity. All those in the world who incite to war, call for ethnic cleansing and for a policy of forced changes to internationally recognized borders have been given a moral carte blanche”, said the Minister.


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