THE HAGUE (AFP) — The war crimes trial of Serbian ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj has been adjourned as judges await a decision on his right to defend himself, the UN war crimes tribunal said Wednesday.
"It was an oral order given by the judges yesterday (Tuesday) at the audience," Nerma Jelacic, spokeswoman for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), told AFP.
"The trial is adjourned awaiting a decision of the appeals chamber."
Earlier this month, the trial prosecutor asked judges to strip Seselj of the right to defend himself, arguing he was holding up the trial. He also requested the trial be suspended while a decision is taken on whether to appoint a lawyer to represent the 53-year-old Serbian.
Serge Brammertz, who has accused Seselj of deliberately obstructing the trial, appealed against a first ruling, in which judges decided not to suspend the proceedings. They know decided to adjourn awaiting the outcome of this appeal.
In a July 28 submission published in part, the Belgian prosecutor warned that Seselj is "substantially and persistently obstructing the proceedings of this trial, both in and out of court."
Brammertz also said that Seselj was "interfering with witnesses" and using the courtroom as a "platform to espouse his political agenda and to intimidate witnesses."
Seselj's second trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1990s Balkan wars began in November 2007.
After he surrendered to the UN court in 2003, he forced his first trial to be nullified by going on a hunger strike in 2006 to insist on his right to defend himself.
Head of the biggest party in the parliament in Belgrade (the Serb Radical Party), Seselj denies joining with former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic to "ethnically cleanse" large parts of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia.
His trial is expected to run for another year.
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