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October 3, 1994
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 158
A Cycle of Imprisonment

Vojislav Seselj's Biography Was Born In Jail

Seselj, then a young assistant professor of defence theory at Sarajevo university, was charged with high treason at the 1984 trial. The district court, headed by Milorad Potparic, sentenced him to eight years for ``counter-revolutionary activities which endangered the social order.''

That sentence made him a communist dissident. Petitions were signed by academicians and defenders of human rights both in the country and abroad. He went on hunger strike twice in jail; the first lasted 48 days, the second 16 days. He moved to Belgrade when he was released and made his living as a writer. He wrote 13 books, seven of which were banned.

Seselj appeared in the country's first multi-party elections as leader of the Serb Chetnik Movement and their candidate for the Serbian presidency. He was arrested and sentenced for causing a public disturbance during the campaign and received three sentences totalling 45 days. He served just over half that time and was released at the reccomendation of the prison warden on November 16, 1990 with a suspended sentence for good behaviour. He went straight from jail to a TV studio for the party presentation. He lost the election, but won a seat in the Serbian parliament on April 3, 1991.

He started a close cooperation with the authorities and did ``patriotic'' jobs for them.

He also went to work in Macedonia, causing that republic's parliament to order the police on May 10, 1991 to look into possibilities of criminal proceedings over a statement that he was prepared to defend the Serb people in Macedonia even with mass reprisals. The next day, the Party of Yugoslavs in Split demanded ``the arrest of the Chetnik vojvoda commanders headed by Seselj for endangering constitutional order and crimes.'' The following week, on May 17, the Bosnia-Herzegovina police issued a warrant for his arrest and ordered his immediate arrest under article 236 of the Croatian criminal code for attempting to violently overthrow the consitutional order of the republic of Croatia.

``Balkan Ekspres'' weekly reported that two year ago Seselj had been sentenced to death by a Chetnik court for cooperating with the communists and embezzlement. A court in Dubrovnik charged him with taking part in the destruction of Dubrovnik in 1991 and 1992.

While he was protected by the authorities he survived an attempted assasination. Would-be assassin Adem Sabotic received 15 years in jail for attempted murder.

In July of 1992, the Rector of Belgrade University demanded that Seselj's parliamentary immunity be revoked because he drew his pistol to threaten students earlier that month. The main board of the student protest sued him. On October 10 of that year, ``Politika'' daily sued him for slander and insults.

Early in 1993, Seselj said he was going to arrest federal Prime Minister Milan Panic and his government as soon as he came to power. Seselj had very little patience with federal officials during the Cosic presidency. He caused an incident before the 1993 elections at a meeting of party leaders in Belgrade causing President Cosic's advisor Svetozar Stojanovic to call the police to throw him out of the meeting.

Seselj now faces seven private law suits for slander and insults. Three of them have been linked into one trial. Seselj is being sued by retired General Zivota Panic and journalists Milomir Maric and Vanja Bulic.

Early this year, Zeljko Raznjatovic Arkan said that he was going to sue Seselj for accusing him of organizing the murder of Iso Lera. The trial date was set for April 12, but Seselj never showed up. Three more dates have been set so far.

A month ago, when the Financial Times reported that Milosevic was going to arrest Seselj and Arkan, Seselj said: ``There's a race going on in Belgrade: who's going to arrest who first. Is Milosevic going to arrest me or am I going to arrest him? And the way things are now, I have a slight advantage.''

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