Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Serbia / Croatia / Genocide Tribunals

"A handout photograph of Serbian war crimes suspect Goran Hadzic being arrested in Fruska Gora national park, west of Belgrade. He was the last remaining fugitive sought by the UN war crimes tribunal." (Politika newspaper)
Goran Hadzic Capture a Milestone for Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal
By Ian Traynor
The Guardian, July 20, 2011
"The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal crowned 18 years of operations on Wednesday with the capture of the last of 161 suspects from the wars of the 1990s when Goran Hadzic, a leader of the Serbian insurgency in Croatia, was arrested by the Serbian authorities. The arrest, two months after Belgrade captured genocide suspect General Ratko Mladic and dispatched him for trial in The Hague, marked a turning point for Serbia in seeking to put a blood-soaked, criminalised past behind it and join the European mainstream. The arrest was also a big moment for the UN tribunal in The Hague. Every one of the 161 main war crimes suspects indicted for atrocities in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo has now been apprehended and tried or is awaiting trial. 'This is a precedent of enduring significance, not only for this tribunal, but also for international criminal justice more generally,' said Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. 'A milestone in the tribunal's history,' added Judge O-Gon Kwon, the acting head of the temporary court established in 1993 at the height of the wars in Croatia and Bosnia. Hadzic, a former warehouse worker from Slavonia, a region in east Croatia, was a political leader of the Serbian rebellion in 1991, armed and sponsored by Slobodan Milosevic's regime in Belgrade. He led ethnic pogroms and armed insurrection against Zagreb, after Croatia's secession from Yugoslavia in June 1991, resulting in partition of the country and the Serbian seizure of a quarter of the territory during the war.
Hadzic was president of the self-styled breakaway Serbian republic in Croatia for almost two years in 1992-93. He was indicted seven years ago and faces 14 counts of crimes against humanity and violating the laws of war for 'persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds; extermination; murder; imprisonment; torture; inhumane acts; deportation; inhumane acts (forcible transfers),' according to the charge sheet. A puppet of the Milosevic regime, Hadzic was a local leader of the campaign to expel Croats from a third of Croatia and annex the territory to a 'Greater Serbia' also including half of Bosnia. The campaign ended in disaster, although today's leader of the Serbian half of Bosnia, Milorad Dodik, regularly threatens to break away and destroy the country 16 years after the war ended. Helped by the then Serbian government, Hadzic went into hiding when indicted by the tribunal in 2004. Detectives from The Hague tracked him to his house in Novi Sad, north of Belgrade, but the authorities failed to seize him. He was arrested in the hills of northern Serbia where he was rumoured to enjoy the shelter of an Orthodox monastery. The most notorious of his alleged crimes concerns the murders of some 250 hospital patients in Vukovar, on Croatia's Danube river border with Serbia in November 1991. The Serbs laid siege to the town for three months, shelling it to rubble. When Vukovar fell, the patients were taken to a pig farm and murdered in what acquired infamy as the Ovcara massacre. [...]"

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