Brief: Last Balkans War Criminal Caught

by Sonia Morland

On 20th July 2011 Goran Hadzic, the last fugitive sought by the United Nations war crimes tribunal, was arrested by the Serbian authorities. Only two days later he was handed over to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), the court of law in The Hague established to deal with war crimes that took place during the violent conflicts in the Balkans during the 1990s.

Hadzic is the last of 161 war crime suspects to be charged. These wanted men have included heads of state, prime ministers, members of the army and numerous other political, military and police leaders; they are all men who committed acts of ethnic violence across the former Yugoslavia. So far, over 60 have been convicted.

Arrested in the Fruska Gora north Serbian hills, Hadzic will be charged with fourteen counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. An ethnic Serb who was born in the Croatian village of Pacetin in 1958, he will be accused of the murder of hundreds of Croats and non-Serbs, as well as with the ethnic cleansing of 90,000 Croats and non-Serbs between 1991 and 1993. The charges against him include, inter alia, his alleged involvement in the 1991 Vukovar massacre and in three other massacres at Dalj, Erdut and Lovas along the Serbia-Croat border.

Having lived openly in the Serb city, Novi Sad, Hadzic escaped when The Hague announced he was wanted for war crimes in 2004 and a $1.4 million bounty was put on his head. The Serbian President, Boris Tadic, has compared the hunt for Hadzic to the American’s search for Osama bin Laden and has proudly announced, “At the end of the day, we finished.”

Sonia is an intern at the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism.

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