The icty’s Šešelj Trial: Taking Stock of a Disaster

in Justice Without Borders
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The icty’s trial proceedings against Serb politician and demagogue extraordinaire Vojislav Šešelj, which took more than ten years of proceedings in the Hague, can be described as nothing short of a disaster. This is not because the Trial Chamber decided to acquit the accused (even though its reasoning is shockingly thin) but what happened along the way to the judgment. From the initial appearance, held before Judge Wolfgang Schomburg, the accused had made clear his intention to ‘destroy’ the Tribunal. While he did not succeed in doing so, the Tribunal’s credibility was severely undermined and its authority put in question by the way the proceedings were handled. This paper examines what went wrong (e.g., permitting an accused to lead his own defense even when convicted for brazen contempt of court), whether the trial is symptomatic for the weaknesses of international criminal procedure (e.g. by allowing proceedings to continue for years on end) and what can be done to avoid similar failures in the future (e.g. installing tight oversight mechanisms).

Justice Without Borders

Essays in Honour of Wolfgang Schombourg

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