ISSN 2330-717X

Serbia Arrests War Crimes Suspect Goran Hadzic


By Bojana Barlovac

“With Hadzic’s arrest Serbia has met its legal obligations and moral duties,” Tadic told reporters, referring to the fact that Hadzic was the last UN-indicted Serbian war crimes suspect.

“Cooperation with the Hague [tribunal], which was our great obligation, has been fulfilled,” he added.

Police arrested Hadzic in the Fruska Gora hills of northern Serbia, President Tadic explained. He declined to give exact details about the location and the arrest, though he did deny reports that Hadzic had been found near Serbian military facilities.

Hadzic’s arrest follows the seizure of the Balkans’ number-one war crimes suspect, Ratko Mladic, on May 26. The former Bosnian Serb commander, wanted for the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica among other crimes, was also arrested in the northern province of Vojvodina.

Vladimir Vukcevic, Serbia’s War Crimes Prosecutor, said police arrested Hadzic near the village of Krusedol, in northern Serbia, as he was about to meet with an unnamed helper and receive money from him.

”]Goran Hadzic, Serbia's last major war crimes fugitive, was arrested near his family home in mountains north of Belgrade. [Serbian government]“Hadzic had a false identity card and was armed, but did not resist arest,” Vukcevic said.

The prosecutor said police also detained the “helper”. Vukcevic declined to reveal this person’s identity.

He  said authorities were checking up on whether Hadzic had close contacts with Serbian Orthodox clerics, as some reports have maintained.

The International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, indicted Hadzic for war crimes allegedly committed during the conflict in Croatia in the early 1990s.

Hadzic faces 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in the forcible removal and murder of thousands of Croatian civilians from Croatia between 1991 and 1993.

His indictment specifically mentions the massacre of 250 civilians in Vukovar, most of whom were taken from the town’s hospital after Vukovar fell to Serbian and Yugoslav Army forces in 1991.

He has been in hiding since the Tribunal indicted him in June 2004.

Hadzic, born in Croatia in 1958, worked as a warehouseman before the war. In the early years of the conflict in Croatia, he was president of a self-declared Serbian statelet, the Republika Srpska Krajina, RSK.

Hadzic is charged with ethnically cleansing Croats from parts of Croatia claimed by ethnic Serbs as part of a joint criminal enterprise.

He faces allegations over the persecution, detention, and murder of hundreds of Croats, as well as the deportation or forced transfer of tens of thousands of Croats and other non-Serbs.

Last December, Serbian police searched for Hadzic at the Novi Sad residence of his sister, where he last lived before going into hiding.

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Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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