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
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence