Serbia Hands over Former Serb Leader to War Crimes Tribunal

Posted July 22nd, 2011 at 7:00 am (UTC-5)
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Serbia has extradited the former leader of Croatia's ethnic Serbs, Goran Hadzic, to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague .

Serbia's justice minister made the announcement on Friday. Hadzic's lawyer, Toma Fila, told reporters a day earlier in Belgrade that his client had waived the right to appeal extradition.

The 52-year-old Hadzic led Croatia's rebel Serbs during the Balkans conflict in the 1990s. He disappeared in 2004 when the Hague tribunal indicted him on 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is charged with ordering the killing of hundreds of non-Serbs in Croatia and deporting thousands of others.

Hadzic's wife, sister and son, who had not seen him in seven years, visited him early Thursday in the detention unit of Serbia's Special Court building in Belgrade.

The last remaining fugitive sought by the tribunal, Hadzic was arrested Wednesday in the mountainous Fruska Gora region, about 65 kilometers north of Belgrade.

Serbian state television Thursday quoted Interior Minister Ivica Dacic as denying earlier reports that Hadzic was hiding under an assumed identity and that he had weapons on him when he was arrested.

His lawyer denied reports that Hadzic was caught after trying to sell a stolen painting by the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. He said his client had nothing to do with the stolen art.

Hadzic was arrested two months after police nabbed former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic, who is on trial for genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim males.

Hadzic's delivery to the Hague-based tribunal following the capture of Karadzic removes a key obstacle to Serbia's bid to open negotiations with the European Union for membership in the bloc.