Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj sits on the road in front of a police cordon, in the village of Jarak, Serbia, Sunday, May 6, 2018. Police have prevented a far-right leader Seselj, from holding a rally in an ethnically-mixed village where his nationalist speeches spurred ethnic hatred during the 1990s' Balkan conflict.(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Serbian police seal off village to prevent far-right rally

May 06, 2018 - 12:43 pm

JARAK, Serbia (AP) — Serbian police on Sunday prevented a Serbian far-right leader convicted of war crimes from returning to an ethnically-mixed northern village where he spurred ethnic hatred during the 1990s' Balkan war.

Dozens of policemen sealed off Hrtkovci, 40 kilometers (24 miles) northwest of Belgrade, blocking Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj and his supporters from reaching the village and rallying there.

The Radicals briefly gathered by the police cordons before dispersing.

A squabble was reported with some liberal protesters who came to denounce Seselj. Police later said they detained a 40-year-old man suspected of punching a Liberal Democratic Party member.

The U.N. war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia last month sentenced Seselj to ten years in prison over his 1992 speech in Hrtkovci that resulted in the deportations of dozens of ethnic Croats from the village.

Seselj, a lawmaker in the Serbian parliament, remains free because he served his sentence while in custody during the trial.

The Liberal Youth Initiative for Human Rights group demanded Sunday that authorities strip Seselj of his parliamentary seat because of the war crimes conviction. The group insisted that "any delay or refusal (to do so) presents an illegal defense of Seselj" and his extremists policies.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was a former close ally of Seselj, but he now says Serbia should join the European Union and build regional cooperation.

Some 100,000 people died in the war in the 1990s that erupted after the breakup of the former, multi-ethnic Yugoslav federation.

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