Hadzic Arrest Closes Serbia’s ‘Hague’ Chapter

26. July 2011.00:00
The arrest and handover of Goran Hadzic marks a milestone in Serbia’s difficult relationship with the international war crimes tribunal.

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Serbia has extradited its 46th war crimes suspect, Goran Hadzic, to the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, in The Hague.

Hadzic will face 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity over his alleged involvement in the forced removal and murder of thousands of civilians from Croatia between 1991 and 1993.

Police arrested the former leader of the Croatian Serbs in the Fruska Gora hills of northern Serbia on July 20.

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

NATO’s Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, hailed the arrest and handover of Hadzic as a milestone for Serbia.

“This arrest will allow for the most painful chapter in recent European history to be closed,” he said.

The story of Serbia’s long and often controversial relationship with the Hague court dates back to 2000, when the nationalist government of Slobodan Milosevic was overthrown and a new government under Zoran Djindjic promised to fully cooperate with the Hague court.

The June 2001 arrest and extradition of Milosevic was an early sign that the new government took its pledge seriously. Since then, Belgrade has extradited 45 people to The Hague.

A total of 161 persons have been accused, and 125 procedures have been completed since the ICTY’s foundation in 1993.

After Serbia adopted a Law on Cooperation with The Hague in 2003, cooperation with The Hague significantly intensified. Serbia has extradited 27 people since then.

January 20, 2003:

Serbia’s former president, Milan Milutinovic, surrendered to the ICTY. In February 2009 he was acquitted of war crimes relating to the 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo.

February 24, 2003:

The leader of the Serbian Radical Party, Vojislav Seselj, surrendered to the ICTY. Seselj was accused of involvement in a joint criminal enterprise led by former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic to establish a greater Serbia on Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian territory, which involved killing, deporting, mistreating and plundering Croats and Bosniaks [Muslims]. He is on trial.

March 13, 2003:

Following the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, police arrested Jovica Stanisic, former chief of Serbian security services. The Hague indicted Stanisic and his former deputy, Franko Simatovic “Frenki”, with crimes against non-Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia during the 1991-1995 wars. He is still on trial.

April 21, 2003:

Miroslav Radic, former officer of the Yugoslav Army, JNA, and one of the so-called “Vukovar Three”, surrendered to The Hague. He was acquitted in September 2007 of killing Croatian prisoners in 1991 following the fall of Vukovar to Serbian and Yugoslav forces.

June 13, 2003:
Veselin Sljivancanin, a former JNA officer, and another member of the “Vukovar Three” was arrested in Belgrade and extradited to The Hague.
He was indicted in 1995 over the mass killing at Ovcara, near Vukovar, of approximately 260 non-Serbs in 1991.

In 2007 he was found guilty of aiding and abetting the torture of prisoners and sentenced to five years in prison. The light sentence caused an outcry and in May 2009 the court added a conviction for complicity in the murder of some 260 captives, increasing his sentence to 17 years.

In 2010, however, the Hague Tribunal reversed a valid sentence for the first time, when the Chamber of Appeals reduced his sentence to 10 years. Sljivancanin was released on July 5, 2011.

June 30, 2003:
Zeljko Mejakic surrendered to the Belgrade authorities. According to the ICTY indictment, he was a former commander of the Serb-run Omarska detention camp in northwest Bosnia. The case was transferred to Sarajevo and Bosnia’s State Court sentenced him to 21 years’ imprisonment in May 2008.

August 9, 2003:

Bosnian Serb Mitar Rasevic surrendered. According to th

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