News 16 Mar 15

Hague Tribunal Rejects Goran Hadzic Release Plea

The UN-backed court turned down a request for provisional release for medical treatment from former Croatian Serb leader Hadzic, who is on trial for alleged war crimes.

Marija Ristic



Hadzic in court.

In its decision published on Monday, the trial chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia said it had rejected Hadzic’s request to have cancer treatment in Serbia because he was already getting adequate care in custody in the Netherlands.

“The trial chamber will continue to evaluate Hadzic’s health situation, but at present finds that Hadzic’s detention at the UNDU [UN Detention Unit], where he can be closely monitored and receive satisfactory medical care while undergoing the second phase of his treatment, is compatible with Hadzic’s treatment needs,” it said.

“The trial chamber finds that the defence has failed to provide sufficiently compelling humanitarian reasons justifying provisional release,” it added.

The trial of Hadzic was interrupted last year in the middle of his defence arguments after he was diagnosed with cancer. His defence team had asked for provisional release for “medical care, rest, and family support” in Serbia.

Hadzic has tried several times to get early release for treatment, rather than at the Tribunal’s detention centre in the Netherlands. So far, all his requests have been denied.

The Hague Tribunal prosecution meanwhile has asked the court to order the resumption of the trial in order to complete its case, “including, if necessary, conducting trial proceedings when the accused is unable to attend”.

“Given the advanced stage of trial proceedings and the accused’s current ill-health, it is in the interests of justice for the trial chamber to proceed expeditiously with the defence case in a manner that will ensure the fairness and integrity of the trial,” the prosecution said in a motion made public on March 2.

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 finished presenting its evidence.

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Goran Hadzic at the Hague


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