BELGRADE, Serbia (Tribune News Service) — Serbian nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj, who is wanted for war crimes by an international tribunal in the Hague, called on Serbs in the U.S. to support business magnate Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
Seselj, once an ally of the late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic during the wars that split apart the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, was temporarily released from detention in the Netherlands in 2014 after an inconclusive 11-year trial. He has ignored an order by the tribunal in March for him to return to custody. He appealed to the hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens who claim Serb ethnicity via Twitter to support the Republican front-runner.
"I invite brothers who live in the U.S. to strongly support Republican candidate Donald Trump in forthcoming presidential election," Seselj said in a Jan. 3 tweet. He didn't elaborate.
Seselj isn't the first foreign figure to voice support for Trump, who is leading in opinion polls ahead of state primary elections that will decide who will lead the Republican ticket in the November presidential election. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the real-estate tycoon "a very colorful candidate and talented," to which Trump responded the Russian leader is a "powerful leader," blaming poor U.S.-Russian relations on President Barack Obama.
Seselj founded the Serbian Radical Party with President Tomislav Nikolic in 1991, calling for re-unification of all Serbian territories amid the Yugoslav wars. Nikolic, Premier Aleksandar Vucic and central bank Governor Jorgovanka Tabakovic were prominent members of his party until 2008, when they formed the Serbian Progressive Party and won 2012 elections four years later.
The Hague tribunal charged Seselj with 15 counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, forced deportation, illegal imprisonment and other acts. Prosecutors have demanded a 28-year sentence against him for recruiting paramilitary groups and inciting them to commit atrocities. Seselj says the court doesn't have jurisdiction in the case.
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