Statement of the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry

Croatia is satisfied with the guilty verdict against Vojislav Seselj, handed down earlier on Wednesday by the UN court in The Hague, but considers the pronounced sentence to be far too mild with respect to the acts committed and their consequences, the Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry said in a press release.

The Appeals Chamber of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), the successor to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said in a final verdict that Serbian Radical Party leader Seselj is responsible for the persecution and deportation of Vojvodina Croats by giving an inflammatory speech in Hrtkovci on 6 May 1992.

The MICT Appeals Chamber sentenced him to ten years' imprisonment and counted the time he had spent in the ICTY's detention against the sentence, which is 11 and a half years, so Seselj will not have to go back to prison.

"The Ministry also welcomes the important finding of the Mechanism regarding the existence of a systematic and widespread attack against the non-Serbian civilian population, in which Vojislav Seselj also participated, as a confirmation of planned criminal activity aimed at creating a Greater Serbia. At the same time, the Ministry considers the pronounced sentence to be far too mild with respect to the acts committed and their consequences," read the press release.

The ministry expresses its regret that the Appeals Chamber failed to find Seselj responsible for committing and being involved in committing the gravest crimes against humanity and war crimes during the aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"The Ministry also expresses its regrets that the Appeals Chamber failed to find Vojislav Seselj responsible for participating in the joint criminal enterprise aimed at permanently removing the non-Serbian population, primarily Croats and Bosniaks, from the areas that the then Serbian political and military leadership considered to be Serbian," the press release said.

As one of the main advocates of the idea of a Greater Serbia, with the western border Virovitica-Karlovac-Karlobag, Seselj, through his inflammatory and barbaric rhetoric, motivated and instigated his volunteers, as well as other Serbian troops to the persecution and killing of Croats and Bosniaks, the Croatian foreign ministry said.

The Croatian government especially sympathises with all the victims and families of victims of the crimes committed during and under the aegis of the Greater Serbian aggression, who regretfully, after more than two decades of waiting, have not seen long-awaited justice being served today.

"The Government of the Republic of Croatia will continue to promote the truth about the Homeland War and the role of all those who in any way participated in committing war crimes during the aggression against the Republic of Croatia and will persist in demanding their punishment," the press release said.

Text: Hina