Croatian Serb wartime leader Gordan Hadzic was responsible for the expulsion of non-Serbs from the parts of Croatia under Serb control, says the ICTY prosecution.
|Goran Hadzic, former leader of Croatian Serbs|
The last trial in the mandate of the Hague Tribunal, ICTY, that of Goran Hadzic who led Serb rebel forces during Croatia's 1991-95 war, started on Tuesday with the prosecution’s opening statement.
Hadzic faces 14 war crimes charges, including persecution, extermination and torture of non-Serb civilians from Croatia between 1991 and 1993.
During the Croatian war, Hadzic was the President of the Government of the self-proclaimed Serbian Autonomous District Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem, SAO SBWS, and subsequently the President of the Republic of Srpska Krajina, RSK.
The ICTY prosecution claims that Hadzic’s role was to secure the removal of the non-Serb population from these areas and to help local Serbs and militia in achieving that goal.
“He was a direct participant in the crimes, but also facilitated others to commit crimes against non-Serbs,” the prosecution said.
Hadzic is indicted for persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, murder, imprisonment, torture, inhumane acts, deportation and forcible transfer, devastation not justified by military necessity, destruction or wilful damage to educational and religious institutions and plunder of public or private property.
According to the ICTY indictment, Hadzic was part of a joint criminal enterprise, JCE, which came into existence no later than 1 April 1991, and continued until at least 31 December 1995.
The other ICTY indictees who participated in this JCE include Slobodan Milosevic, Milan Martic, Milan Babic, Jovica Stanisic, Franko Simatovic (also known as Frenki), Vojislav Seselj and Zeljko Raznatovic (also known as Arkan).
Hadzic is alleged to have participated in the JCE from June 1991 until at least December 1993, during which period he was the highest civilian and political authority in the SAO SBWS and the RSK.
“Goran Hadzic was Slobodan Milosevic’s man on the ground in Croatia. Milosevic’s role was to ensure that Hadzic had enough resources and arms to achieve his goals ,” stated the prosecution.
“His actions encouraged non-Serbs to flee from the areas controlled by Serbs. Essence of his politics was ‘Serbs need to control areas where they live’. His view was that Serbs and Croats could not coexist and later that become the policy of his government,” the prosecution added.
After the prosecution’s opening statements, the first witness, Zlatko Antunovic, a former member of the youth branch of the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, who used to live in the village of Erdut, in eastern Slavonia, Croatia, started his testimony.
In 1991, the village of Erdut was the headquarters and training centre of the notorious Arkan’s Tiger unit, who according to the prosecution, acted jointly with Hadzic.
The trial will continue on Wednesday with Antunovic’s testimony.
The Hague Prosecution charges Goran Hadzic, former President of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, with crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war in Croatia in 1991 and 1992.
Timeline of events leading up to the arrest of Goran Hadzic.