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The Hague, 20 July 2011
Statement of the Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on the arrest of Goran Hadžić
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia welcomes the arrest today of Goran Hadžić by the Serbian authorities. Today marks the arrest of the last fugitive remaining at large out of the 161 persons indicted by the Tribunal.
Hadžić has been a fugitive since July 2004 when the indictment charging him with crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war committed in Croatia was made public. Arrangements for his transfer into the Tribunal’s custody are under way and he is expected to arrive in The Hague within days.
In relation to the arrest, Prosecutor Serge Brammertz stated the following:
“I welcome the arrest today of Goran Hadžić the war-time Croatian Serb political leader of the self proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina. Hadžić’s transfer into the Tribunal’s custody is a long awaited development for the victims of the crimes charged against him. It is also an important milestone in the Tribunal’s history. Eighteen years after the Tribunal’s creation, we can now say that no indicted person has successfully evaded the Tribunal’s judicial process. This is a precedent of enduring significance, not only for this Tribunal, but also for international criminal justice more generally.
We recognize the role of the Serbian authorities in apprehending Goran Hadžić, particularly its Action Team in charge of locating and arresting Tribunal fugitives and the National Security Council. We also acknowledge the role played by the Services who carried out the arrest operation. The international community too has played a role in supporting measures to secure Hadžić’s arrest and we express our gratitude for the support we have received.
Goran Hadžić has been apprehended less than two months after the arrest of war-time Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic. These combined events mark a long-awaited step forward in Serbia’s cooperation with the Tribunal. Serbia has now produced visible evidence that cooperation with the Tribunal is not an empty promise but a genuine commitment and we look forward to Serbia’s assistance with our ongoing work. In the weeks and months ahead we will continue to ask Serbia –and all states of the former Yugoslavia – to support our cases by providing access to archives documents and witnesses.
As we pause to reflect on the significance of Hadžić’s arrest for the Tribunal, we are mindful that the Tribunal is part of a much broader process for establishing accountability for atrocities committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia. The victims of thousands of other crimes are still waiting for justice. The prosecution of war crimes in national proceedings remains a critical challenge for the region and its people. The Office of the Prosecutor will continue to use its best efforts to assist the fight against impunity in the former Yugoslavia, by providing national prosecutors with information, evidence and expertise. The international community also has a key role to play in ensuring that national prosecutions can successfully take over the Tribunal’s work in establishing accountability for the atrocities committed.
With Hadžić’s arrest we take solace in the knowledge that the Tribunal can now complete its work. But to ensure full accountability for the atrocities committed during the war in the former Yugoslavia, we must also redouble our commitment to supporting the remaining national prosecutions.”
During the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Goran Hadžić was President of the Government of the self-proclaimed “Serbian Autonomous District Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem” and the so-called “Republic of Serbian Krajina”.
The indictment against Goran Hadžić alleges that he was a co-perpetrator in a joint criminal enterprise. The purpose of this enterprise was to permanently and forcibly remove a majority of the Croat and other non-Serb population from approximately one-third of the territory of the Republic of Croatia. In doing so, Hadžić and the other participants in the joint criminal enterprise sought to make the territory part of a new Serb-dominated state. The joint criminal enterprise came into existence no later than 25 June 1991 and continued until at least December 1993.
As set out in the indictment, Goran Hadžić is charged on the basis of individual criminal responsibility for having participated in the commission of the following crimes:
• Exterminating or murdering hundreds of Croat and other non-Serb civilians, including women and elderly persons, in Dalj, Dalj Planina, Erdut, Erdut Planina, Klisa, Lovas, Grabovac and Vukovar.
• Imprisoning and confining hundreds of Croat and other non-Serb civilians in detention facilities within and outside of Croatia, and establishing and perpetuating inhumane living conditions, including repeatedly torturing, beating and killing detainees in these detention facilities.
• Forcing Croat and other non-Serb civilians to perform labour when detained or under house arrest in Vukovar, Dalj, Lovas, Erdut and Tovarnik. The forced labour included digging graves, loading ammunition for the Serb forces, digging trenches and other forms of manual labour at the frontlines.
• Imposing restrictive and discriminatory measures on the Croat and other non-Serb civilian population, such as restriction of movement, removal from positions of authority in local government institutions and the police, dismissal from jobs, and arbitrary searches of their homes.
• Beating, robbing, and arbitrarily arresting Croat and other non-Serb civilians.
• Deporting or forcibly transferring tens of thousands of Croat and other non-Serb civilians from the territories specified above, including deporting to Serbia at least 5,000 inhabitants of Ilok, 20,000 inhabitants of Vukovar; and forcibly transferring to locations within Croatia at least 2,500 inhabitants of Erdut.
• Deliberately destroying the homes, other public and private property, cultural institutions, historic monuments and sacred sites of the Croat and other non-Serb population in Vukovar, Erdut, Lovas, Aljmaš, Šarengrad, Bapska, Tovarnik.
After seven years evading justice, Goran Hadžić will finally face the charges brought against him in The Hague.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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