Serb ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj warned that "rivers of blood" would flow in Bosnia if his vision for a greater Serbian state was opposed, a prosecutor told the Yugoslav war crimes court earlier this week.
"The accused's threat of rivers of blood became a brutal reality," after Bosnia-Hercegovina declared independence two decades ago, prosecutor Mathias Marcussen told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Prosecutors, who were this week presenting final arguments in Seselj's marathon trial -- which has lasted more than five years -- said he called for crimes "to be committed against Croats and Muslims so that his... vision of a greater Serbian state could be realised."
Seselj, 57, who continues to lead the opposition Serbian Radical Party (SRS) from his jail cell, is facing nine counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by his troops between 1991-93 during the Balkan wars.
Long time coming
The Serb leader, who has spent longer behind bars at a UN detention unit in The Hague than any other defendant and has never asked for provisional release, is to conclude his own defence next week.
Seventy-two witnesses appeared for the prosecution, nine were called by the trial chamber, while Seselj himself called no witnesses during his trial, which started in November 2006.
First transferred to the ICTY's detention unit on February 23, 2003, he is accused of fanning racial hatred by calling for a "Greater Serbia" and helping to plan the removal of Croats, Muslims and other non-Serbs from large parts of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia and Serbia.
He is also accused of recruiting Serbian volunteers connected to the SRS and indoctrinating them with "extreme ethnic rhetoric", prompting forces to commit crimes "with particular violence and brutality."
"The accused was not merely a recruiting sergeant for a legitimate war, but a fanatic who contributed to a common criminal enterprise," Marcussen told the Hague-based court.
"His troops, referred to as the 'Seseljevci' (Seselj's men) committed numerous crimes and quickly became so notorious they even became known to international organisations," said the prosecutor.
The "Seseljevci" were the "most brutal" of the Serbian paramilitary groups, "led by Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Chetnik party," Marcussen added.
Wearing a dark suit and light blue shirt, Seselj, who often refers to himself as the "number one enemy of the ICTY" listened intently to the arguments and on several occasions interrupted, complaining the prosecutor was "making mistakes".
Known for his angry outbursts in court, Seselj has been hospitalised several times since January this year with health-related problems. His SRS party said he had been fitted with a pacemaker.
He has also been sentenced to a total of 18 months in jail for contempt of court for giving out information in a book on some 10 witnesses relating to his trial including names, occupations and addresses.
Seselj pleaded not guilty to another contempt of court charge for not removing confidential information from his website.