Vojislav Seselj was born in Sarajevo in 1954. He succeeded brilliantly with his law studies at the university there as well as at the University of Belgrade, where he obtained his Doctorate in 1979.
He started out as a communist but, with the passing of time, he adopted a critical attitude towards the regime. In 1984, he was arrested and sentenced to 8 years in prison for counter-revolutionary activities. However having support from Yugoslav dissidents as well as from the international opinion finally led to his release after only 18 months in jail. Upon release, he settled in Belgrade where he began to militate in nationalist circles. In 1989, he travelled to the USA where he received the honorary title of “Vojvoda” (Duke of the Chetniks) from Momcilo Dujic, President of the “Chetnik Movement of the Free World”. He then travelled throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and Western Europe in order to raise funds to finance his nationalist activities.
In June 1990, he created the “Serbian Chetnik Movement” with a nationalist platform based on the idea of a Greater Serbia (Vilika Srbija), which, in addition to the Republic of Serbia, was to be composed of Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia, Herzegovina as well as a part of today’s Croatia (Dalmatia, Slavonia, Dubrovnik….) The Serbian Chetnik Movement, won more than 100’000 votes during the 1990 December elections. Following his party’s disqualification by the Serbian authorities, he founded, on 23 February 1991, the “Serbian Radical Party” (SRS). In June 1991, he was elected Member of Parliament of the Serbian Republic. During his election campaign, he reportedly urged the Serbs to unite and fight against the “hereditary enemies” of Serbia, meaning people of Croatian, Muslim or Albanian origin living within the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
Before and during the war, Seselj was a leading political personality in the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia and then in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia made up of Serbia and Montenegro.
According to the indictment before the ICTY, he actively participated in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity by forcing the majority of non-Serbs, in particular the Muslims and the Croats, to leave definitively about one third of the territory of Croatia, vast portions of the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina and certain parts of the autonomous province of Vojvodina in Serbia, in order to integrate these regions in a new State under Serb domination.
This criminal enterprise is said to have come into being prior to 1 August 1991 and to have continued at least until December 1995. Vojislav Seselj worked with several individuals towards achieving its aims, in particular with Slobodan Milosevic, Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzix, Zeljko Razjnatovic (alias Arkan), Biljana Plavsic, and also with the forces of the Yugoslav Popular Army (known later as the Yugoslav Army) in addition to the various armed Serbian groups. Seselj is reported to have participated in this joint criminal enterprise until September 1993, when he came into conflict with Slobodan Milosevic.
Seselj thereafter continued to play an important political role in Serbia, even running in the 2002 presidential elections and winning the third highest number of votes. Following this, his party rose higher in the political sphere, becoming the first party in Serbia in the 2007 legislative elections.
Seselj was indicted on 14 February 2003 and he surrendered voluntarily to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 24 February 2003.
Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.