Four years ago Vojislav Seselj flew out of Belgrade for The Hague acclaimed as a hero by a crowd of supporters. The former deputy prime minister and militia leader surrendered himself to the international tribunal, thinking he would be the last Serb to face its justice.
Two days before he had been triumphantly re-elected as head of the Radical party that he founded in 1990. He still leads it today and despite the accusations hanging over him his popularity is intact. His words on leaving home rang like a challenge: “I am proud to go and defend the interests of more than ten thousand party volunteers who fought at the front for an honourable cause.”
The self-styled “Seseljevici”, named after their leader, formed a paramilitary force to defend Serbian nationalist interests in Bosnia and Croatia at the outbreak of war.
And they defended them fiercely, later being accused of deportations, persecution, murder and torture. It is alleged they used anything that could to speed up an ultimate objective of ethnic cleansing. The Greater Serbia that Seselji and his supporters dreamed of would be eradicated of all Bosnians and Croats, it is alleged. “We are a United Republic of Serbia, Republic of Montenegro, Republika Sprska and Republic of Krajina. We will create a Great Serbia”.
This charismatic populist is not known for verbal niceties, but more for physical violence when he snaps. Slobodan Milosevic called him his “favourite opponent”, and a “violent primitive”.