Wife of Serb war crimes suspect runs for president

Apr 6, 2012, 2:02 PM

Associated Press

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – The wife of a detained war crimes suspect who is accused of recruiting brutal paramilitary groups and using hate-laced speeches to incite atrocities will run for president in Serbia’s May elections, his ultranationalist party said.

Vojislav Seselj, who is the leader of the Serbian Radical Party, ordered from his detention unit at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands that Jadranka Seselj be the party’s candidate, the party said.

Although Jadranka Seselj has never before engaged in politics, she has frequently sat at her husband’s side during the radicals’ rallies when Seselj was one of the most influential Serbian politicians during the 1990s.

The party said in a statement that Jadranka Seselj has showed her “courage and sacrifice” since her husband handed himself over to the U.N. tribunal nine years ago.

“Serbia needs someone who will make sacrifices just like she did during Seselj’s captivity,” the statement said.

U.N. prosecutors are demanding a 28-year prison sentence for Seselj, who once said he would like to gouge out the eyes of Croats with a rusty spoon. They say Seselj’s firebrand speeches at rallies “planted the seeds of ethnic hatred and helped them grow into ethnic violence against non-Serbs” during the wars in Bosnia and Croatia.

The two leading contenders in the May 6 vote are pro-Western Boris Tadic, who formally resigned as president to make way for an early election, and Tomislav Nikolic _ Seselj’s former ally _ whose nationalist Serbian Progressive Party has Russia’s support.

Several other candidates will take part in the presidential vote, but they _ including Jadranka Seselj _ are considered long shots. If no one receives 50 percent of the votes, there will be a runoff.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Wife of Serb war crimes suspect runs for president