- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2003

BELGRADE, Serbia - Montenegro, Feb. 24 (UPI) — An ally of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, himself on trial for alleged war crimes, has left Belgrade to face a war crimes tribunal in The Netherlands.

Vojislav Seselj, named in an indictment opened Feb. 14, left Belgrade late Sunday with a call for Serbian nationalism. According to the British Broadcasting, corp. Seselj told a crowd of thousands of supporters who saw him off that, "They think they will put me no trial there, in The Hague, but I will put the Americans and NATO on trial.

"Nobody can defeat the Serbian national idea."

The indictment, signed Jan. 15 by Prosecutor Carla del Ponte, claims that Seselj made Serbian nationalistic speeches that incited some of his countrymen to carry out ethnic cleaning campaign in Bosnia and Croatia from 1991-93.

Seselj told supporters Sunday not to allow the handover of war crimes suspects to The Hague. Former Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic have been sought by the war crimes tribunal hearing testimony regarding alleged atrocities in Balkans. Milosevic, whose trial on charges including genocide has been going on for some time, is the highest profile former Yugoslav leader to face the tribunal.

The BBC said Seselj promised to use his time before the tribunal to make political statements while presenting his side of events.

The strength of Seselj's continued popularity in the region was shown in December elections when he finished second in the race to be Serbia's president.

The indictment claims that Seselj "bears criminal reasonability for crimes which were part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against the Croat, Muslim and other non-Serb civilian populations with large areas of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Vojvodina, Serbia."

The document lists eight counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of violations of the laws or customs of war, such as murder, torture or plunder of public or private property.

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