Hadzic in UN war crimes tribunal's custody

22nd July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Former Croatian Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic was handed over Friday to the UN tribunal that will try him for warcrimes -- the last of the court's wanted fugitives.

"Goran Hadzic ... was today transferred to the tribunal's custody, after having been at large for almost seven years," the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) said in a statement.

"Hadzic ... has been admitted to the UN detention unit in The Hague."

A plane transporting the ertswhile leader of the self-proclaimed "Republic of Serbian Krajina" during the early 1990s, touched down at Rotterdam airport shortly after 2:30 pm (1230 GMT), Dutch news agency ANP reported.

Hadzic, 52, the last of 161 people indicted by the ICTY is believed to have been met at the airport by court officials as well as a representative of the Serbian Consulate in the Netherlands.

Serbian Justice Minister Snezana Malovic earlier signed an official order authorising his transfer to The Hague-based ICTY, where he faces 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for overseeing the murder of hundreds of civilians and the deportation of tens of thousands of Croats during the 1991-95 Croatian war.

On the run for the last seven years, the one-time warehouse worker was arrested Wednesday by Serbia in the idyllic mountain region of Fruska Gora near the northern city of Novi Sad.

His arrest comes less than two months after Serbian authorities finally captured wartime Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic, the court's most wanted fugitive.

Hadzic is wanted particularly for his involvement in the massacre by Croatian Serb troops of some 264 Croats and other non-Serbs taken from a hospital in Vukovar after the city fell to Serbian troops after a three-month siege in November 1991.

Charges against him also included overseeing attacks on Croatian towns, villages and settlements by Serb forces including those commanded by the notorious Zeljko Raznatovic, better known as "Arkan's Tigers."

He is also wanted for his involvement in the deportation and imprisonment of thousands of Croats and other non-Serbs in detention facilities under inhumane conditions.

"Living conditions were characterised by overcrowding, starvation, forced labour, inadequate medical care and constant physical and psychological assault, including mock executions, torture, beatings and sexual assault," read the indictment against Hadzic.

The former Croatian Serb leader left Serbia's war crimes court, where he had been held since Wednesday, early on Friday and was driven by a police convoy to his family home in Novi Sad, some 70 kilometres (40 miles) north of the capital.

At the house, where Hadzic himself lived until he went into hiding in 2004, he is believed to have met with his mother, who was too ill to travel to Belgrade, and his pregnant daughter.

When former Bosnian Serb leader Ratko Mladic was arrested nearly two months ago, Serbian authorities also allowed him to visit the grave of his daughter Ana the morning before he was put on a plane to the UN war crimes court.

© 2011 AFP

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