News 16 Apr 15

Freed Croatian Serb Leader Hadzic Arrives in Serbia

War crimes defendant Goran Hadzic arrived in the Serbian capital after being temporarily released by the UN court in The Hague for cancer treatment.

Marija Ristic
Goran Hadzic arrives in Belgrade. | Photo by Beta

Goran Hadzic, who is currently on trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), flew into Belgrade airport on Wednesday night after the court approved his provisional release to undergo medical treatment.

On arrival, Hadzic was escorted by police to his hometown Novi Sad, where he will be treated.

Media were not allowed to cover his arrival at the airport and there was a heavy police presence in front of his house in Novi Sad, reports said.

The head of Serbia’s National Council for Cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Rasim Ljajic, said on Thursday that Belgrade had given guarantees to the UN-backed court that Hadzic would be watched and get proper treatment while he is in the country.

He also said that the state will control his movements during his stay in Novi Sad .

“He [Hadzic] is obliged to stay in his home from 11 in the evening until 7 in the morning. If it is necessary for him to go to the medical institution, he will also be under surveillance and control and we will inform the Hague Tribunal about that," Ljajic said.

The ICTY ruled on Monday that Hadzic, aged 56, who was diagnosed with brain cancer last year, is obliged to return to The Hague in May for an MRI scan.

During his temporary release, he must remain in the northern city of Novi Sad, where he will be treated, and surrender his passport to the Serbian interior ministry. He is forbidden to contact witnesses, victims or the media.

Hadzic previously asked for temporary release from the Hague Tribunal’s detention centre to receive medical treatment elsewhere several times. His pleas were turned down by the court but its decision was reversed on appeal.

During the war in Croatia in the 1990s, Hadzic was president of the self-proclaimed Serbian Autonomous District of Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem and subsequently President of the Republic of Serbian Krajina - both unrecognised Serb-controlled areas within Croatia.

He is facing 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity over his alleged involvement in the forced removal and murder of thousands of non-Serb civilians from Croatia between 1991 and 1993.

Hadzic was arrested in Serbia in 2011 after seven years on the run, and his trial started in October 2012.

The prosecution has already presented its evidence, and Hadzic had just started his defence when he was diagnosed with cancer last year.

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