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  • Serbs carry a flag bearing the photo of Serb ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj. (Photo: Reuters)

    Serbs carry a flag bearing the photo of Serb ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj. (Photo: Reuters) | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 November 2014

Vojislav Seselj has been held for a decade under allegations of war crimes.

A United Nations court ordered the release of a former Serbian politician accused of war crimes Friday.

Serbian nationalist Vojislav Seselj had been detained for a decade in The Hague, while awaiting a verdict on allegations of inciting murder and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia in the 1990s.

Earlier this year, thirteen more Serbs were handed over to The Hague by Bosnian authorities for similar alleged crimes. 

Seselj had been accused of forming a militia and inciting fighters to conduct human rights abuses against non-Serbs, including torture, forced deportation, illegal imprisonment and murder.

However, in a statement, judges on a tribunal overseeing cases dating back to the conflict said there were “compelling humanitarian reasons” for Seselj to be released. The former politician is suffering from cancer, and there are reports the disease now ravaged his health.

According to the New York Times, Serbian doctors who recently visited Seselj in jail stated the cancer has spread to his liver. He is expected to undergo treatment when he returns to Serbia.

Hardline nationalists say Seselj is also planning to make an appearance at a rally in Belgrade next week, according to Reuters. Seselj had been in custody since he surrendered to the international court in 2003, but his trial has been repeatedly delayed.

The delays have sparked criticism of the court, including from Seselj himself. He has previously claimed the court violated his right to a speedy trial, despite himself vowing to mock proceedings.

He has repeatedly been found in contempt of the court, and accused by the prosecution of intimidating witnesses.

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