Goran Hadžić

Last updated
Goran Hadžić
Горан Хаџић
Goran Hadzic.jpg
Hadžić at his initial appearance before the ICTY
2nd President [1] of Republic of Serbian Krajina
In office
26 February 1992 26 January 1994
Prime MinisterZdravko Zečević
Preceded by Milan Babić
Succeeded by Milan Martić
Prime Minister of SAO Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia [2]
In office
1991 26 February 1992
Preceded by Veljko Džakula
President of the Coordinating Committee of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia [2]
In office
1996 15 January 1998
Preceded by Slavko Dokmanović
Personal details
Born7 September 1958
Pačetin, PR Croatia, FPR Yugoslavia
Died12 July 2016(2016-07-12) (aged 57)
Novi Sad, Serbia
Nationality Serb
Political party Serb Democratic Party
League of Communists of Yugoslavia

Goran Hadžić (Serbian Cyrillic : Горан Хаџић, pronounced  [ɡǒran xǎdʒiːtɕ] ; 7 September 1958 – 12 July 2016) was a Croatian Serb nationalist politician of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina , [3] in office during the Croatian War of Independence. He was accused of crimes against humanity and of violation of the laws and customs of war by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. [4]

The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet is an adaptation of the Cyrillic script for Serbo-Croatian, developed in 1818 by Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić. It is one of the two alphabets used to write standard modern Serbian and Montenegrin, the other being Latin. In Croatian and Bosnian, only the Latin alphabet is used.

Self-proclaimed describes a legal title that is recognized by the declaring person but not necessarily by any recognized legal authority. It can be the status of a noble title or the status of a nation. The term is used informally for anyone declaring themselves to any informal title.

Republic of Serbian Krajina former country

The Republic of Serbian Krajina or Serb Republic of Krajina, pronounced [rɛpǔblika sr̩̂pskaː krâjina]), known as Serb Krajina or simply Krajina, was a self-proclaimed Serb proto-state, a territory within the newly independent Croatia, which it defied, active during the Croatian War (1991–95). It was not recognized internationally. The name Krajina ("Frontier") was adopted from the historical Military Frontier of the Habsburg Monarchy and Austria-Hungary, which had a substantial Serb population and existed up to the late 19th century. The RSK government waged a war for ethnic Serb independence from Croatia and unification with FR Yugoslavia and Republika Srpska.

Contents

Hadžić was indicted on fourteen counts. [4] The charges include criminal involvement in the "deportation or forcible transfer of tens of thousands of Croat and other non-Serb civilians" from Croatian territory between June 1991 and December 1993, including 20,000 from Vukovar; the forced labour of detainees; the "extermination or murder of hundreds of Croat and other non-Serb civilians" in ten Croatian towns and villages including Vukovar; and the "torture, beatings and killings of detainees", including 264 victims seized from Vukovar Hospital. [5] [6]

Vukovar City in Podunavlje, Croatia

Vukovar is a city in eastern Croatia. It contains Croatia's largest river port, located at the confluence of the Vuka and the Danube. Vukovar is the seat of Vukovar-Syrmia County. The city's registered population was 26,468 in the 2011 census, with a total of 27,683 in the municipality.

The Tribunal's last remaining fugitive, [7] Hadžić was captured by Serbian authorities on 20 July 2011. [8] His trial was abandoned in 2014 due to his terminal brain cancer diagnosis; he died at the age of 57 on 12 July 2016.

Early life

Hadžić was born in the village of Pačetin, [9] at the time in SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia; and in his youth was politically active as a member of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. [5] Prior to the Croatian War of Independence, Hadžić worked as a warehouseman. He was president of the local community of Pačetin. In the Spring of 1990, as a representative of the League of Communists Party for Democratic Changes, he was elected to the Municipal Committee of Vukovar. [5]

Pačetin Village in Slavonia, Croatia

Pačetin is a village in the municipality of Trpinja, Vukovar-Srijem County in the easternmost part of Croatia. At the time of the 2011 Census the population of the village was 541. Village lies north of the Vuka River and west of the M601 railway. Its major landmark is the Church of St. Nicholas from XVIII century. County road Ž4111 passing through the villages of Pačetin, Bobota and Vera connect all three villages with D2 road and D55 road. Pačetin is 28.6 km southeast of Osijek, the economic and cultural centre of Slavonia and 17.2 km from the Osijek Airport. County seat Vukovar is 17.3 km east of Pačetin.

League of Communists of Yugoslavia political party in Yugoslavia

The League of Communists of Yugoslavia, before 1952 the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, was the country's largest communist party, and the ruling party of SFR Yugoslavia. It was founded as an opposition party in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1919.

Croatian War of Independence war of independence fought from 1991 to 1995

The Croatian War of Independence was fought from 1991 to 1995 between Croat forces loyal to the government of Croatia—which had declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY)—and the Serb-controlled Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and local Serb forces, with the JNA ending its combat operations in Croatia by 1992. In Croatia, the war is primarily referred to as the "Homeland War" and also as the "Greater-Serbian Aggression". In Serbian sources, "War in Croatia" and "War in Krajina" are used.

On 10 June 1990 he joined the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) and was elected president of the party's branch in Vukovar. In March 1991 he was president of the Municipal Committee of Vukovar, a member of the Main Committee and Executive Committee of the Serb Democratic Party in Knin, and president of the Regional Committee of the Serb Democratic Party for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia. Before 25 June 1991, he was a leader of the Serbian National Council of Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia and of the Serbian Democratic Forum, which covered Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia. [5]

Serb Democratic Party (Croatia) political party in Croatia

The Serb Democratic Party was a political party in Croatia whose primary constituency were the Serbs of Croatia. It led the Republic of Serbian Krajina. It existed between 1990 and 1995.

Knin City in Šibenik-Knin, Croatia

Knin is a city in the Šibenik-Knin County of Croatia, located in the Dalmatian hinterland near the source of the river Krka, an important traffic junction on the rail and road routes between Zagreb and Split. Knin rose to prominence twice in history, as the capital of both the medieval Kingdom of Croatia and, briefly, of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina from 1991 to 1995.

SAO Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia human settlement

The Serbian Autonomous Oblast of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia was a self-proclaimed Serbian Autonomous Oblast (SAO) in eastern Croatia, established during the Yugoslav Wars. It was one of three SAOs proclaimed on the territory of Croatia. The oblast included parts of the geographical regions of Slavonia, Baranja and Syrmia.

Croatian War

Hadžić was involved in the Plitvice Lakes incident in late March 1991, beginning the Croatian War of Independence. [10] On 25 June 1991, a group of eastern Slavonian Serbs organized a congress (Velika narodna skupština Slavonije Baranje i Zapadnog Srema) where they decided to constitute a "Serb Autonomous Oblast" (SAO) of the region, the SAO Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia, and also to separate the region from the Republic of Croatia, which was still part of Yugoslavia. Hadžić was elected as a candidate to lead the entity's government. [5]

Plitvice Lakes incident

The Plitvice Lakes incident was an armed clash at the beginning of the Croatian War of Independence. It was fought between Croatian police and armed forces from the Croatian Serb-established SAO Krajina at the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, on 31 March 1991. The fighting followed the SAO Krajina's takeover of the Plitvice Lakes National Park and resulted in Croatia recapturing the area. The clash resulted in one killed on each side and contributed to the worsening ethnic tensions.

Slavonia Historical region of Croatia

Slavonia is, with Dalmatia, Croatia proper and Istria, one of the four historical regions of Croatia. Taking up the east of the country, it roughly corresponds with five Croatian counties: Brod-Posavina, Osijek-Baranja, Požega-Slavonia, Virovitica-Podravina and Vukovar-Srijem, although the territory of the counties includes Baranya, and the definition of the western extent of Slavonia as a region varies. The counties cover 12,556 square kilometres or 22.2% of Croatia, inhabited by 806,192—18.8% of Croatia's population. The largest city in the region is Osijek, followed by Slavonski Brod and Vinkovci.

Hadzic in 1992 Goran Hadzic 1992 2.jpg
Hadžić in 1992

On 26 February 1992 the two Slavonian SAOs formally joined the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK), while the Assembly of the RSK replaced Milan Babić with Hadžić as the new Premier of the Republic of Serbian Krajina. Babić was deposed because he argued against the Vance peace plan, unlike Milošević. Hadžić was reported to have boasted that he was "a messenger for Slobodan Milošević". He held the leadership position until December 1993. [5]

In September 1993, when Croatia started Operation Medak Pocket, Hadžić sent an urgent request to Belgrade for reinforcements, arms and equipment. The request was ignored by the Serbian officials, although some 4,000 paramilitaries under the command of Arkan (Serb Volunteer Guard), arrived, to bolster the RSK army. In February 1994, Hadžić's presidency ended when Milan Martić was elected President. In 1995, he threatened to have the eastern Slavonian district secede from Krajina because of plans to unite Krajina with Republika Srpska. [11]

After Operation Storm in August 1995, parts of RSK in eastern Slavonia remained outside the Croatian government's control. Between 1996 and 1997, Hadžić was President of the Srem-Baranja district, after which the region was peacefully reintegrated into Croatia under the provisions of the Erdut Agreement. Hadžić subsequently moved to Serbia in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 2000, he attended the funeral of indicted war criminal Željko Ražnatović-Arkan in Belgrade, calling him a "big hero". [12]

Croatian war crimes charges

Hadžić was prosecuted and tried in absentia in Croatia on two counts: in 1995 he was convicted for rocket attacks on Šibenik and Vodice, and sentenced to 20 years in prison; in 1999 he was convicted for war crimes in Tenja, near Osijek, and sentenced to an additional 20 years imprisonment. [13] In 2001, Interpol put him on its Most Wanted Fugitives list and issued a Red corner notice. [14]

In 2002, Croatia's state attorney brought another indictment against Hadžić, the so-called Vukovar Three (Veselin Šljivančanin, Mile Mrkšić and Miroslav Radić) and the Yugoslav People's Army's senior commanders, alleging the murder of almost 1,300 Croats in Vukovar, Osijek, Vinkovci, Županja and elsewhere. [13]

ICTY charges

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia indicted Hadžić for war crimes on 4 June 2004. [15]

Hadžić faced 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in the forcible removal and murder of thousands of Croatian civilians from the Republic of Croatia between 1991–93. His indictment specifically cites the 1991 Vukovar massacre of 250 mostly Croats, from the Vukovar hospital; the Dalj, Erdut and Lovas massacres; involvement in Stajićevo, Begejci and Sremska Mitrovica camps; and the alleged wanton destruction of homes and religious and cultural buildings in Dalj, Erdut, Lovas, Tovarnik and Vukovar. [5]

In the weeks before his arrest, Hadžić disappeared from his home in Novi Sad, Serbia. In 2005, Serbian media reported he might be hiding in a Serbian Orthodox monastery in Irig or in Bijela, Montenegro. [16] Nenad Čanak, the leader of the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina, claimed in 2006 that Hadžić was hiding in a monastery somewhere on Fruška mountain. [17] At one point he was also rumoured to be hiding in Belarus.

In October 2007, the Serbian government council for national security had offered €250,000 for information leading to Hadžić's arrest. [18] In 2010, the Rewards for Justice Program was offering an award of up to $5 million USD for information leading to Hadžić's arrest. [19]

In 2010, Serbia raised the reward for Hadžić's arrest to $1.4 million USD. [20] When asked by the press whether Hadžić's trial could be transferred from the ICTY, Croatian Serb politician Milorad Pupovac indicated that Serbia should try Hadžić. [21]

Serbian police raided Hadžić's home on 9 October 2009 and impounded some of his belongings but did not make any statements following the operation. [22]

In 2010, the Council of the European Union blocked Hadžić's family from entering the EU. [23] After the arrest and extradition of the penultimate war-crimes fugitive, Ratko Mladić, the European Union continued to insist on the arrest and extradition of Hadžić [24] to the Hague to face trial. And stated that his fugitive status was holding back Serbia's membership in that body [25]

Arrest

On 20 July 2011, Serbian President Boris Tadić announced that Hadžić had been arrested by Serbian authorities. [8] He added that the arrest closes a "difficult chapter" in Serb history. [26]

Police located him near the village of Krušedol on the slopes of Fruška Gora at 20:24, [27] where he was presumed to have been since he went into hiding following the ICTY indictment. [28]

A stolen Modigliani painting led investigators to discover his whereabouts. Looking to cash in on the portrait, Hadžić was tracked down by authorities after trying to sell it. [29] [30]

At the time of his arrest he was the last remaining fugitive indicted by the ICTY. [24] He was taken into custody in the Fruška Gora, and had his extradition hearing in Belgrade before a Special Court, which found that all of the prerequisites for extradition to the Hague had been met. [31]

He did not appeal his extradition. [32]

Reaction

With the arrest, one of the obstacles to Serbia's entry into the EU was removed, [25] [33] and the country thus, according to the New York Times , "completed its obligations to the United Nations tribunal". [34] EU leaders [35] congratulated Serbia for his arrest and called it a signal of Serbia's commitment to "a better European future." [28]

The Netherlands' Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said of the arrest that "it is of course another good step that has been taken. After Mladić was arrested, we said to the Serbs: now it is really down to you making that last step and catching Hadžić [to further EU succession]. And that has now happened. That involves human rights, tackling corruption and fraud, getting the economy in order and not least, co-operation with the Yugoslavia tribunal. That last point is really happening." [36]

Extradition

On 22 July, Justice Minister Snežana Malović announced that he had been extradited to the Hague in a small Cessna plane after being allowed visits by his sick mother, [37] wife, son and sister [38] in a convoy of jeeps and police cars that left the detention unit of the Serbian war crimes court in the morning and headed first to Novi Sad and then to Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. [37] He arrived at Rotterdam airport after he refused to appeal his extradition orders. [38]

The Croatian government directed its Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of Justice to "take all the necessary steps" to bring Hadžić to a war crimes trial in the country to face other "serious crimes" they claimed that had been committed in Croatia. The government of Croatia was said to have wanted to ensure that Hadžić serve the two prison sentences previously ordered in absentia by Croatian courts. [39]

Trial and death

Hadžić's initial arraignment before the ICTY was on 25 July and lasted 15 minutes. He declined to enter a plea to charges arising from the war in Croatia. His duty counsel Vladimir Petrovic said Hadžić would not "enter a plea today. He is going to avail himself of the rights granted to him..." [40]

Hadžić pleaded not guilty at his second appearance before the tribunal on 24 August. The prosecutors announced they would call 141 witnesses, seven of them experts whose reports would be submitted later. Also announced was testimony from eighty-two fact witnesses, twenty of whom would give evidence in court. Transcripts of testimonials from the remaining sixty-two would be submitted into evidence, and the defense would have the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses later. [41]

Prosecutors received a total of 185 hours to examine the witnesses and experts-in-chief. [42] The trial began on 16 October 2012. The prosecution completed its case in November 2013, and in February 2014 the tribunal rejected Hadžić's mid-trial motion for acquittal. Hadžić had argued that the prosecutor had produced insufficient evidence to convict. Hadžić was then required to put on his defense. [42]

Hadžić was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in November 2014. His trial was suspended in October 2014 as he was unable to take part due to the side effects of his treatment, which included chemotherapy. The prosecution wanted the trial to proceed in his absence but no decision was made. In April 2015 the court ordered Hadžić's provisional release, and he was sent back to Serbia. Hadžić died of his cancer the following year on 12 July 2016, aged 57. [43] [44]

See also

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