THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Serb nationalist Vojislav Seselj deliberately revealed the names of 11 witnesses whose identities were being shielded by the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, prosecutors said Tuesday at the start of his contempt of court trial.
Prosecutor Bruce MacFarlane said Seselj, a one-time close ally of the late Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and leader of the Radical Party, published the names in a book and on his website in a "deliberate and defiant" flouting of confidentiality orders.
Seselj told the court the witnesses all consented to be identified in his publications.
"I published the names of people who claim they were coerced into giving false testimony," he said.
Seselj has been in custody at the tribunal for eight years since turning himself in to face charges of plotting ethnic cleansing and inciting atrocities by Serb forces in Bosnia and Croatia as the former Yugoslavia crumbled in the 1990s. That marathon trial is continuing.
Seselj was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment at an earlier contempt trial for revealing the identities of other protected witnesses — a sentence that was largely meaningless due to the time he already has spent behind bars before and during his trial.
Witnesses often are granted protection at the war crimes tribunal because of fears of possible reprisals.
He often has mocked judges, lawyers and prosecutors, and he pledged Tuesday to force another 10 contempt trials, even citing North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il as a defender of free speech.
"Whoever fights sincerely in the interests of truth and freedom must be prepared to sacrifice," Seselj said, claiming it to be a Kim quote. "I have followed his shining example."
Seselj said he had not been able to get several witnesses to The Hague to testify on his behalf.
Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon said he would adjourn the trial after MacFarlane had presented his evidence to give Seselj a chance to get his witnesses to The Hague.