UN war crimes court hails Hadzic arrest

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The top official and prosecutor of the UN war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia hailed the arrest Wednesday of its last fugitive Goran Hadzic as a step bringing the court closer to completing its mandate.

"Hadzic's arrest marks another milestone in the tribunal's history and brings the institution closer to the successful completion of its mandate," said Judge O-Gon Kwon, acting president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Hadzic, 52, the last fugitive of the 161 people indicted by The Hague-based ICTY, was arrested Wednesday in the mountain region of Fruska Gora near the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad.

"We can now say that no indicted person has successfully evaded the tribunal's judicial process," ICTY prosecutor Serge Brammertz told AFP by phone.

The Belgian prosecutor said he believed it could take three to eight days for Hadzic to be transferred to The Hague to face charges before the tribunal's judges.

"There are no more fugitives, which means we are going to be able to concentrate on ongoing trials, like that of Ratko Mladic or Radovan Karadzic," he said, referring to the former Bosnian Serb military chief and political head, who both face genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes charges before the court.

Hadzic faces 14 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes for the murders of hundreds of people and deportation of tens of thousands Croats between 1992-1993.

His arrest comes less than two months after Serbian authorities finally captured Mladic, the court's most wanted fugitive.

With Hadzic's arrest, Serbia can now claim it has arrested 44 fugitives wanted by the ICTY.

Still, said Brammertz: "The impression should not be given that the chapters on the wars in the former Yugoslavia have been closed. There are still hundreds of ongoing procedures, especially in Bosnia," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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