Hadzic wanted non-Serbs out of the Serb-run parts of Croatia and never stopped working with notorious paramilitary leader Arkan, his Hague Tribunal trial was told.
The wartime Croatian Serb leader strongly believed that Croats should be driven out, historian Christian Nielsen told Hadzic’s trial at The Hague on Wednesday.
“Hadzic didn't believe that so-called human ethnic cleansing is a silly idea,” expert prosecution witness Nielsen said.
Hadzic faces 14 war crimes charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, including the persecution, extermination and torture of non-Serb civilians from Croatia between 1991 and 1993.
Nielsen said that when Hadzic started working with paramilitary boss Zeljko Raznatovic, alias Arkan, the notorious militia leader was seen as Serbia’s man.
“There was a general attitude that he is the person who has the protection of the Belgrade leadership,” expert witness Nielsen said.
Belgrade changed its attitude after 1992 because it began to consider the paramilitary boss a liability, Nielsen said, but Hadzic continued to collaborate with Arkan and his Tigers, a unit of fighters accused of brutal violence.
According to the prosecution, Hadzic and Raznatovic were both part of a joint criminal enterprise, alongside the late Serbian strongman leader Slobodan Milosevic and Serbian Radical Party chief Vojislav Seselj, aimed at expelling non-Serbs from what were then Serb-run parts of Croatia “to make it a part of new Serb-dominated state”.
During the war in Croatia, Hadzic was the president of the self-proclaimed Serbian Autonomous District of Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem, and subsequently the president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina.
Arkan was killed in a gangland shooting in Belgrade in 2000 and never stood trial for war crimes.
The main parts of Hadzic’s trial in The Hague this week were closed to the public because Nielsen’s report presented secret Serbian police and army files.
The trial continues on Thursday.
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.