Vojislav Seselj has been found not guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the Balkan wars in the 1990s.
The UN war crimes court at The Hague said the Serbian ultra-nationalist had neither borne individual responsibility for the crimes, nor known about them nor endorsed them.
Vojislav Seselj had denied the charges. In his first reaction, he said the court had reached the only verdict possible.
Croatia’s prime minister condemned the verdict as “shameful”.
The UN tribunal’s prosecutor Serge Brammertz said his office would decide later whether to appeal.
“I’m absolutely convinced that the victims’ communities and many people will not be satisfied with this outcome,” Serge Brammertz said.
Vojislav Seselj was allowed to go to Belgrade in 2014 after being diagnosed with cancer and was not present in the courtroom.
He had even refused the tribunal’s offer to follow the verdict by video link.
The radical has been taking part in anti-government rallies ahead of Serbian parliamentary elections in April.
Vojislav Seselj was a close ally of the late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. He served as Serbian deputy prime minister from 1998 to 2000.
He surrendered to the UN court (the ICTY) voluntarily in 2003. When the ICTY sought to appoint a defense lawyer against his wishes, he went on hunger strike.
The indictment charged Vojislav Seselj with three counts of crimes against humanity and six of war crimes for inciting ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Bosnia and the Serbian province of Vojvodina in the period August 1991-September 1993.
On the most serious charge of crimes against humanity, presiding Judge Jean-Claude Antonetti said the prosecution “had failed to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that there was a widespread and systematic attack against the non-Serb civilian population in large areas of Croatia and Bosnia.
“The evidence tendered and considered establishes instead that there was an armed conflict between enemy military forces with civilian components.”
Prosecutors had argued Vojislav Seselj was criminally responsible for the murder, torture and deportation of non-Serbs as part of his project to create a “Greater Serbia”.
They had accused him of raising an army of volunteers who committed “unspeakable crimes”.
However, the trial chamber found that there was no “criminal purpose in sending volunteers” – and, moreover, they had not been under Vojislav Seselj’s command.
“The majority simply notes that it is not satisfied that the recruitment and subsequent deployment of volunteers implies that Vojislav Seselj knew of these crimes on the ground, or that he instructed or endorsed them,” it said.
The verdict also concluded that the “Greater Serbia” plan Vojislav Seselj had supported was not a “criminal”, but “political”, project.
Croatian PM Tihomir Oreskovic criticised the outcome as “a defeat for the Hague tribunal and the prosecution”.
Vojislav Seselj had consistently berated the tribunal, challenging its legitimacy – and regretting the fact that it could not pass a death sentence on him.
On March 31, Vojislav Seselj said he wanted 14 million euro in compensation against the UN tribunal.
North Korea will be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crimes against humanity.
The UN General Assembly voted the resolution with 116 to 20, with more than 50 abstentions.
The UN Security Council is expected to discuss the resolution on December 22, but it is likely to face stiff opposition from China and Russia.
North Korea said the resolution was “a product of political plot and confrontation”.
A UN report released in February revealed ordinary North Koreans faced “unspeakable atrocities”.
The report detailed wide-ranging abuses in North Korea after a panel heard evidence of torture, political repression and other abuses.
It added that those accused of political crimes were “disappeared” to prison camps, where they were subject to “deliberate starvation, forced labor, executions, torture, rape and the denial of reproductive rights enforced through punishment, forced abortion and infanticide”.
Most of the evidence came from North Korean defectors who had fled the country.
North Korea refused to co-operate with the report and condemned its findings.
The report led to a vote in the UN’s human rights committee last month, which voted in favor of referring North Korea to the ICC.
China, North Korea’s main international ally, is expected to veto any Security Council resolution when the matter is discussed next week.
On December 18, the General Assembly also passed resolutions condemning the human rights records of Syria and Iran, but did not go as far as recommending a referral to the ICC.
A deferral of The Hague trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta – due to start in November – has been demanded at the African Union summit in Ethiopia.
The AU also agreed a resolution stating no sitting African head of state should appear before an international court.
With both Kenyan and Sudanese presidents facing ICC cases, African leaders have long complained that the court unfairly targets them.
The AU had discussed withdrawing from the ICC, but failed to get support.
Senior figures including Kofi Annan have criticized plans to quit the ICC.
The AU leaders, meeting in Addis Ababa, agreed to back immunity for any sitting African head of state.
They also asked Kenya to write to the UN Security Council seeking a deferral in the International Criminal Court (ICC) case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces charges of crimes against humanity.
Both he and his deputy, William Ruto, deny charges of organizing violence after the 2007 election.
While William Ruto went on trial in September, President Kenyatta has repeatedly requested his trial – due next month – be postponed.
African states want the ICC to withdraw the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
Addressing the summit, Uhuru Kenyatta accused the court of bias and “race-hunting”, AFP reports.
“The ICC has been reduced into a painfully farcical pantomime, a travesty that adds insult to the injury of victims. It stopped being the home of justice the day it became the toy of declining imperial powers.”
Ethiopian PM and AU chairman Hailemariam Dessalegn said the summit was not a crusade against the ICC but a call for the court to address Africa’s concerns seriously.
He said the ICC’s cases against the Sudanese and Kenyan presidents could hamper peace and reconciliation efforts in their countries.
“The unfair treatment that we have been subjected to by the ICC is completely unacceptable,” he said.
The ICC issued a warrant in 2009 for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir over alleged war crimes in the Darfur region, but he has not yet been arrested.
The ICC relies on the authorities of national governments to hand over suspects, but Mr Bashir has avoided arrest despite travelling to countries that have signed up to the ICC statute.
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is the current chairman of the AU’s Executive Council, said the ICC had failed to respond to the African Union’s previous complaints.
“What the summit decided is that President Kenyatta should not appear until the request we have made is actually answered,” he said.
Thirty-four of the AU’s 54 members have signed up to the ICC.
Kenya’s parliament has already passed a motion for the country to withdraw.
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said that withdrawing from the court would be a “badge of shame”.
Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has also voiced his support for the ICC.
“Those leaders seeking to skirt the court are effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence,” he wrote in an article carried by several newspapers.
“They simply vilify the institution as racist and unjust, as Hermann Goering and his fellow Nazi defendants vilified the Nuremberg tribunals following World War II.”
All eight of the cases currently open at the ICC are in Africa but it is also investigating possible cases elsewhere.
Kenyan parliament has approved a motion to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) following an emergency debate.
A bill to this effect is expected to be introduced in the next 30 days, after opposition MPs boycotted the vote.
The ICC has charged President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto with crimes against humanity, which they both deny. William Ruto’s trial is due to start in The Hague next week.
The ICC said the cases would continue even if Kenya pulled out.
The charges against both Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto stem from violence that broke out after disputed elections in 2007, in which more than 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 forced from their homes.
Uhuru Kenyatta is to go on trial in November.
They were on opposite sides during the 2007 election but formed an alliance for elections in March this year, and analysts say the ICC prosecutions bolstered their campaign as they portrayed it as foreign interference in Kenya’s domestic affairs.
Kenyan parliament has approved a motion to leave the ICC following an emergency debate
Eeven though the vote does not halt the cases, it sends a powerful signal of defiance to The Hague – a sentiment that is becoming increasingly popular, in Kenya and across much of Africa.
No other country has withdrawn from the ICC.
Kenya’s parliament is dominated by the Jubilee coalition formed by Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.
The motion, tabled by majority leader Adan Duale, said the pair had been “lawfully elected” and the government should take steps to “immediately” withdraw from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.
It also says Kenya will “suspend any links, cooperation and assistance” to the ICC.
Adan Duale noted that the US had refused to sign the Rome Statute to protect its citizens and soldiers from potential politically motivated prosecutions.
“Let us protect our citizens. Let us defend the sovereignty of the nation of Kenya,” Adan Duale is quoted as saying.
MPs from the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), led by former PM Raila Odinga, walked out of the debate, calling the motion “capricious” and “ill-considered”.
Kenya’s withdrawal would not bring “honor to the nation and dignity to our leaders”, CORD said in a statement.
“Kenya cannot exist outside the realm of international law,” it said.
In May, the African Union accused the ICC of “hunting” Africans because of their race.
The ICC strongly denies this, saying it is fighting for the rights of the African victims of atrocities.
The court was set up in 2002 to deal with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.
The ICC has been ratified by 122 countries, including 34 in Africa.
Efrain Rios Montt, Guatemala’s former military leader, has had his conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity overturned.
The constitutional court said the trial must go back to where it stood on April 19 and restart from that point.
On May 10, General Efrain Rios Montt, 86, was convicted of ordering the deaths of 1,771 people of the Ixil Maya ethnic group during his time in office in 1982-83.
He was sentenced to 80 years in prison. The former leader denies the charges.
The constitutional court on Monday threw out all proceedings in the case after the April day when there was a dispute between two judges about who should hear the case.
The ruling follows an appeal by Gen. Efrain Rios Montt’s defense lawyers, who argued that procedural errors had been committed.
Efrain Rios Montt, Guatemala’s former military leader, has had his conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity overturned.
The trial – which began in March – was beset by delays and even a temporary suspension.
During the hearings, dozens of victims gave harrowing testimony about atrocities committed by soldiers.
Gen. Efrain Rios Montt became the first former leader to be found guilty of genocide by a national tribunal in May.
Now, just days later, the jubilant scenes among indigenous campaigners in a packed court were contrasted sharply with the low-key press conference in which this latest legal twist was announced.
The decision to annul the sentence does not signal the end of the legal battle either for the prosecution or for Efrain Rios Montt as both sides will now start preparing to return to court to replay the final few weeks of the trial.
An estimated 200,000 people were killed in Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war, the vast majority of them indigenous Mayans.
Efrain Rios Montt’s 17 months in power are believed to have been one of the most violent periods of the war.
The former general abandoned politics in 2012, after serving in Congress for a number of years.
Efrain Rios Montt is now expected to leave the military hospital where he is currently being held and return to his home under house arrest.
Guatemala’s former military leader Efrain Rios Montt has been found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity and a three-judge tribunal sentenced him to 80 years in prison.
Retired General Efrain Rios Montt, 86, was convicted of ordering the deaths of 1,771 people of the Ixil Maya ethnic group during his time in office in 1982 and 1983.
Survivors described horrific abuses committed by the army against those suspected of aiding left-wing rebels.
Efrain Rios Montt had denied the charges, saying he neither knew nor ordered the massacres while in power.
He is expected to appeal against the court’s decision on the grounds of his age.
Guatemala’s former military leader Efrain Rios Montt has been found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity
Efrain Rios Montt’s former chief of military intelligence, Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, who was on trial with him, was acquitted.
It is the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide by a court in his or her own country.
Other genocide convictions have been handed down by international courts.
Relatives and indigenous leaders cheered when the sentence was read out by Judge Jazmin Barrios in Guatemala City.
Efrain Rios Montt was sentenced to 50 years for genocide and 30 years for crimes against humanity.
“The Ixils were considered public enemies of the state and were also victims of racism, considered an inferior race,” Judge Barrios said.
“The violent acts against the Ixils were not spontaneous. They were planned beforehand.”
It is a historic decision and a huge breakthrough for human rights in the region.
During the nearly two-month trial, dozens of victims gave harrowing testimony about atrocities committed by soldiers.
An estimated 200,000 people were killed in Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war, the vast majority of them indigenous Mayans.
Prosecutors said Efrain Rios Montt presided over the war’s bloodiest phase. They said he turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture and arson against those suspected of supporting leftist rebels.
The trial has been beset with delays, legal loopholes and a temporary suspension.
Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, Haiti’s former ruler, has appeared in court for a hearing to determine if he can be charged with crimes against humanity.
It was the first time Baby Doc Duvalier, who failed to appear at previous hearings, had faced some of his alleged victims.
Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti in 2011 after spending 25 years in exile in France.
Human rights groups say hundreds of political prisoners were tortured or killed under Baby Doc Duvalier’s rule from 1971 to 1986.
Opponents and supporters of Baby Doc Duvalier turned out for the hearing, with some of his alleged victims just metres away from him in the packed courtroom.
Supporters dressed in the black and red colors symbolic of Baby Doc Duvalier’s rule chanted “Long live Duvalier” as he entered the courthouse.
Jean-Claude Duvalier’s lawyers had asked for the session to be held in private, arguing he was unwell.
The hearing was requested by his alleged victims, who want to see him stand trial for crimes against humanity.
Last year, a judge ruled that Baby Doc Duvalier should be tried for embezzling public funds but that the statute of limitations had run out on charges of murder, arbitrary arrest, torture and disappearances.
That ruling is contested by human rights organizations, which argue that under international law there is no time limit on prosecuting crimes against humanity.
Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, Haiti’s former ruler, has appeared in court for a hearing to determine if he can be charged with crimes against humanity
Baby Doc Duvalier is himself appealing against the decision to try him on any charges.
Now a three-judge panel must decide whether the former leader should face trial.
Three previous attempts to hold the hearing had to be postponed when Baby Doc Duvalier failed to turn up.
Baby Doc Duvalier was just 19 when he inherited the title of president-for-life from his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, who had ruled Haiti since 1957.
Like his father, he relied on a brutal militia known as the Tontons Macoutes to control the country.
In 1986 Baby Doc Duvalier was forced from power by a popular uprising and US diplomatic pressure, and went into exile in France.
Amnesty International and the Open Society Justice Initiative have urged the Haitian authorities not to drop a rights case against former ruler Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.
The international human rights groups said Jean-Claude Duvalier “must not evade justice” for alleged crimes against humanity.
In January 2012, a judge ruled that the alleged abuses had expired under Haiti’s statute of limitations.
An appeal hearing against that decision is due to begin on Thursday.
Jean-Claude Duvalier unexpectedly returned to Haiti in 2011 after 25 years in exile, prompting the Haitian authorities to open an investigation into crimes allegedly committed during his 1971-86 rule.
Baby Doc Duvalier has denied all the accusations against him.
A judge decided that he should stand trial for embezzling public funds but ruled that the statute of limitations had run out on charges of murder, arbitrary arrest, torture and disappearances.
Alleged victims and their relatives have appealed against this ruling.
Amnesty International and the Open Society Justice Initiative have urged the Haitian authorities not to drop a rights case against former ruler Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier
A first hearing was postponed when Jean-Claude Duvalier failed to appear in court on 31 January. He has been ordered to attend Thursday’s hearing.
International law requires that he should stand trial for alleged crimes against humanity, the Open Society Justice Initiative said.
Amnesty International has also argued that such crimes are not subject to a statute of limitations.
“With the case of Jean-Claude Duvalier, it is the whole credibility of the Haitian justice system which is at stake,” Amnesty said.
“Only by respecting the procedures in the appeal case, including thoroughly examining all evidence and hearing all the victims, will the court be able to demonstrate the professionalism and independence of the Haitian justice system.”
Jean-Claude Duvalier was just 19 when he inherited the title of president-for-life from his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, who had ruled Haiti since 1957.
Like his father, Jean-Claude Duvalier relied on a brutal militia known as the Tontons Macoutes to control the country.
In 1986 Jean-Claude Duvalier was forced from power by a popular uprising and US diplomatic pressure, and went into exile in France.
The UN General Assembly has voted by a big majority to condemn its own Security Council for failing to end the unrest in Syria as fighting rages.
It passed a non-binding resolution, which also condemns the Syrian government’s use of heavy weapons, by 133 votes to 12 with 31 abstentions.
The move came after the resignation of UN envoy Kofi Annan and failure of his six-point peace plan.
Government forces backed by tanks have launched a new assault in Damascus.
The UN General Assembly has voted by a big majority to condemn its own Security Council for failing to end the unrest in Syria as fighting rages
Shelling also continued on Friday in Syria’s largest city, Aleppo.
Activists say more than 20,000 people – mostly civilians – have died in 17 months of unrest.
The resolution passed at the UN expresses “grave concern” at the escalation of violence in Syria and deplores “the failure of the Security Council to agree on measures to ensure the compliance of Syrian authorities with its decisions”.
“The first step in the cessation of violence has to be made by the Syrian authorities,” the resolution said.
Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, the envoy for Saudi Arabia which is the driving force behind the resolution, had urged the Assembly to maintain its moral and humanitarian values by approving the resolution.
Syria’s envoy, Bashar Jaafari, reacted to the passing of the resolution by saying his government still supported Kofi Annan’s six-point plan.
Accusing Saudi Arabia and Qatar of having undermined the plan before coming out in support of it, he said: “You cannot be a fireman and an arsonist at the same time.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the conflict in Syria had become a “proxy war” and called on powers to overcome their rivalries in an effort to end the violence.
“The acts of brutality that are being reported may constitute crimes against humanity or war crimes,” he said.
Russia and China have blocked attempts in the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against Damascus.
Elvedin Pasic is the first witness who has taken the stand in the war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic.
Elvedin Pasic held back tears as he described surviving a mass killing in 1992 in the Bosnian village of Grabovica.
He told the International Criminal Court at The Hague how Bosnia’s ethnic groups lived in peaceful coexistence until the outbreak of war in the 1990s.
General Ratko Mladic is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Ratko Mladic, 70, denies the charges, which date back to the 1992-95 Bosnian War.
He was on the run for 16 years before his arrest and is one of the last key figures wanted for war crimes during the Bosnian War.
General Ratko Mladic is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity
The trial was halted in May because of “irregularities” by the prosecution.
Some of the relatives of victims and survivors of the war have expressed concern that if the trial takes too long, Ratko Mladic, who has suffered from heart problems, will die before a verdict is reached.
Elvedin Pasic, 34, is a Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) from the village of Hvracani in northern Bosnia. He was a teenager during the war.
He told the court: “Before the war we had a great time. We were playing basketball and football, we used to do everything together. Muslim, Croats and Serbs, we were all having a great time, respecting each other.”
Things began to change in the spring of 1992, he said, when as a 14-year-old boy he first noticed a convoy of soldiers in the uniform of the Yugoslav national army giving Muslims the three-fingered Serbian salute.
Elvedin Pasic went on to describe how bombs were falling on his area during the war and his village was overrun.
He was separated from the other men in his family and later survived the execution of around 150 people in the northern Bosnian village of Grabovica.
Later this week, the court is due to hear from the retired British general, Sir Richard Dannatt, who served as deputy commander of NATO’s force in Bosnia.
However, the Mladic defense team has called for his expert evidence to be thrown out.
There will also be an anonymous witness who survived the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. He is expected to tell the court how he saw prisoners being lined up in groups of 10 and executed.
Around 8,000 Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica were killed after the town was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in July of that year – in what was the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II.
General Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb army commander, is set to go on trial on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide.
Ratko Mladic, 69, is the last of the main protagonists in the Balkan wars of the 1990s to face an international trial in The Hague.
He is accused of orchestrating the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim boys and men at Srebrenica in 1995.
Ratko Mladic calls the accusations “monstrous” and the court has entered a “not guilty” plea on his behalf.
He spent 15 years on the run before being apprehended by Serb forces last May and sent to The Hague.
He has been awaiting trial in the same prison as his former political leader Radovan Karadzic, who was arrested in 2008 and is now about half way through his trial on similar charges to General Ratko Mladic.
In the hours leading up to the opening of proceedings, members of the Mothers of Srebrenica group gathered for a vigil outside the court.
General Ratko Mladic is set to go on trial on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide
Judicial authorities have rejected defense calls to delay proceedings, most recently a petition to have the Dutch presiding Judge Alphons Orie replaced on grounds of alleged bias.
The number of crimes of which Ratko Mladic stands accused has been almost halved to speed up his trial.
Ratko Mladic is accused of committing genocide and other crimes against Bosnian Muslims and Croats in a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing that began in 1992 and climaxed in Srebrenica in 1995.
Then, Serb fighters overran the Srebrenica enclave in eastern Bosnia – supposedly under the protection of Dutch UN peacekeepers. Men and boys were separated off, shot dead and bulldozed into mass graves – later to be dug up and reburied in more remote spots.
Ratko Mladic is also charged in connection with the 44-month siege of Sarajevo during which more than 10,000 people died.
These were the worst atrocities in Europe since the end of World War II.
Over 200 hours, the prosecution will make its case against General Ratko Mladic, taking testimony from more than 400 witnesses.
Pre-trial hearings have been characterized by ill-tempered outbursts from Ratko Mladic, who has heckled the judge and interrupted proceedings.
“The whole world knows who I am,” he said at a hearing last year.
“I am General Ratko Mladic. I defended my people, my country… now I am defending myself.”
The case has stirred up strong emotions among watching survivors, with some shouting “murderer” and “killer” from the court gallery.
Ratko Mladic suffered at least one stroke while in hiding and remains in frail health.
The architect of the Balkan wars, former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, died in detention in his cell in 2006, before receiving a verdict.
Ratko Mladic charges
• Counts 1/2: Genocide of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Srebrenica
Baltasar Garzon, Spain’s best-known judge has been found guilty of authorizing illegal recordings of lawyers’ conversations by Supreme Court in Madrid.
The judge has been banned from the legal profession for 11 years.
Baltasar Garzon, 56, is best known for his efforts to extradite the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet from London to face trial in Madrid.
He is also accused of exceeding his authority by wanting to investigate Franco-era disappearances.
That would violate a 1977 amnesty on crimes committed during General Franco’s rule.
Baltasar Garzon, Spain’s best-known judge has been found guilty of authorizing illegal recordings of lawyers' conversations by Supreme Court in Madrid
Baltasar Garzon believes that no amnesty can cover crimes against humanity.
The judge also faces a third charge, of allegedly dropping an investigation into the head of Spain’s biggest bank, Santander, after receiving payments for a course sponsored by the bank. No date has been set for that trial.
The prosecutions have been brought by private parties.
Seven judges at the Supreme Court in Madrid have been hearing the evidence.
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