VOJISLAV SESELJ - DAY 6: "I WAS ONLY KIDDING"
www.slobodan-milosevic.org - August 31, 2005
Written by: Andy Wilcoxson
Vojislav Seselj continued his examination-in-chief at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic on Wednesday. He began his testimony by commenting on the testimony of Stepjan Mesic who claimed that Milosevic funded the JNA with funds he took from the National Bank of Yugoslavia. Seselj explained that Milosevic did not have any authority over the National Bank of Yugoslavia.
Seselj said that the JNA was funded by the federal budget, but Slovenia and Croatia refused to pay their share of the federal budget in 1990 and 1991. He testified that the JNA took over Slovenian border posts at the insistence of Yugoslav PM Ante Markovic and Yugoslav Presidency Member Stepjan Mesic, both of whom were Croats. He said that Mesic and Markovic wanted to get the JNA bogged down in Slovenia so that it would not be able to stop Croatia from seceding.
Most of Seselj's testimony today with his own personal credibility. Seselj claims that over the course of his political career he made several "bombastic" statements which were untrue in order to provoke controversy and make publicity for himself and his party.
Seselj spoke of the feud between his Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS). Seselj claims that the SPS started malicious rumors that he was a drunkard and a lunatic, he says that he responded by telling lies and making inflammatory statements about Milosevic and the SPS.
Seselj insists that the statements he is giving in his sworn testimony are true, but that the statements he made for political reasons were often untrue. Sometimes the statements were for his own political gain, and other times he made false statements for the purposes of war propaganda. A case in point was when he said thanked Hungary for providing the Krajina Serbs with weapons. He made that statement because he knew that Hungary was arming Croatia and he wanted to cause distrust between Hungary and Croatia.
Seselj said that the public statements he made were often in jest and the Serbian public found them amusing. He expressed great pride in the fact that Carla del Ponte labeled him a "scandal-monger" in one of the prosecution's filings. He said that that label gave him more pride than his PhD.
One joking statement that Seselj made was that Serbian Chetniks should kill people with rusty spoons. He explained that he had been invited to appear on the "Minimax" television program in Serbia. He said that the show was a comedy program and that he was asked by its host, the famous Serbian comedian Milovan Ilic-Minimax, "So, do you Chetniks still slaughter people?" Seselj jokingly replied "Yes, but we've changed our methodology. We no longer use knives, but rusty spoons."
Seselj pointed out that Belgrade's Politika-TV recently repeated that episode of the "Minimax" show so everybody could see what this was all about. Watching Seslej's testimony one can see that he is prone to joking around, especially to sarcasm and "black humor".
Another event that gets manipulated is Seselj's speech in Hrtkovci. It has been alleged that Seselj read out a list of Croats who should be expelled from the town. Seselj says that this is untrue and claims to have a videotape of the rally that he will play at his own trial in order to prove what really happened there.
Seselj says that he advocated property exchanges between Croats in Hrtkovci and Serbs who had been expelled from their homes in Croatia. He said that the refugee crisis could be alleviated in this way. The list, he explains, was read out by an activist of the SRS and it was a list of members of the Croatian ZNG - not a list of people who should be expelled.
Seselj said that the only people he ever advocated expelling from Serbia were illegal aliens. He said that illegal aliens, especially those supporting separatism and the break-up of the country, should be deported back to their home country, which in most cases would be Albania. His statements are really no different than statements from American politicians who advocate the deportation of illegal Mexican aliens.
Seselj commented on the testimony of several prosecution witnesses who had claimed that he commanded paramilitary groups in Bosnia and Croatia. Seselj repeated his earlier testimony saying that all of the Serbian Radical Party's volunteers were members of the JNA, and that neither himself nor his party had any paramilitary group. He said that claims made about "Seselj's men" and "Seselj's White Eagles" were nonsense.
Seselj will continue his examination-in-chief on Thursday.
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