War crimes suspect Goran Hadzic in court

Serbia's last major war crimes suspect refused to enter a plea on charges over the 1991-1995 Croatian war when he made a brief first appearance at the UN's Yugoslavia tribunal today.



The arrest of Goran Hadzic, 52, and his transfer to The Hague last week were a symbolic moment for both Serbia and the Balkans region, ending an 18-year manhunt to detain all 161 suspects indicted by the Yugoslavia war crimes court.



The European Union has insisted that Serbia arrests all wanted war criminals before it grants candidate status for membership. It is due to issue a progress report in October.



"Mr Hadzic is not going to enter a plea today. He is going to avail himself of the rights granted to him," Hadzic's duty counsel Vladimir Petrovic told the court.



Speaking outside the court, Petrovic said Hadzic wanted to appoint his defence team first and to study the indictment before entering a plea.



"It is practically a new indictment, so Mr Hadzic didn't have more than 48 hours to go through it," Petrovic said, adding that Hadzic wants to have prominent Serbian lawyer Toma Fila, who has past experience at the tribunal, to be his permanent attorney.



Hadzic is charged with 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. These include the extermination, torture, murder and willful killing of hundreds of Croat and other non-Serb civilians - in particular, 264 hospital patients who were killed in Vukovar in 1991.



In the hearing that lasted just under 15 minutes, Judge O-Gon Kwon said that a second arraignment hearing would be scheduled within 30 days as Hadzic had not entered a plea.



Suspects at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia have the right to delay entering a plea for up to 30 days. But if they then still refuse to enter one, the court may enter a plea of not guilty on their behalf.



Flanked by four guards, Hadzic looked tired when he appeared in court, shorn of the long black beard that he sported during the Balkan wars but with a grey moustache.



Hadzic was on the run for seven years, outlasting the better known indicted war criminal from the 1990s breakup of Yugoslavia, Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic.



At least 130,000 people were killed as the Yugoslav federation was torn apart in various wars between Serbs, Croats, Muslims and Albanians during the 1990s.



Wearing a dark suit, Hadzic declined to hear the indictment read aloud to him, but was otherwise co-operative, and there were no signs of the defiance shown by Mladic, who in June dismissed the charges against him as obnoxious and monstrous.



The court went into private session for a couple of minutes for Hadzic's lawyer to ask a question. When the public session resumed soon after, judge Kwon adjourned the hearing.



Serbian security officials arrested Hadzic about 40 miles north of Belgrade last week. He was allowed a visit from his family before his transfer to The Hague on Friday.



Few Serbs lamented Hadzic's departure, in contrast to the public reaction to the arrest of Mladic in May and of Bosnian Serb wartime political chief Radovan Karadzic three years ago.

Reuters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us