Hadzic Opposed Return of Croats, Witness Says

The ICTY defendant, Goran Hadzic, acted with other Serbian leaders to prevent the return of Croats to the Serb-run parts of Croatia during the 1990s, says one of the leaders of the Croatian Serbs, Veljko Dzakula.The trial of the former leader of the Croatian Serbs, Goran Hadzic, continued at the Hague Tribunal, ICTY, with the cross examination of the prosecution witness, Veljko Dzakula, a Croatian Serb politician.

During the Croatian war, in 1991, Dzakula was the Vice President of the self-proclaimed Republika Srpska Krajina, a Serb-run part of Croatia.

Dzakula confirmed the prosecution’s claims that Hadzic received support from the Belgrade authorities to secure their joint aim – the expulsion of the Croats from the proclaimed autonomous territories in Slavonia and Krajina.

Hadzic faces 14 war crimes charges, including the persecution, extermination and torture of non-Serb civilians from Croatia between 1991 and 1993.

During the Croatian war, Hadzic was the President of the Government of the self-proclaimed Serbian Autonomous District Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem, SAO SBWS, and subsequently the President of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, RSK.

According to the ICTY indictment, Hadzic was part of a joint criminal enterprise, JCE, which came into existence no later than 1 April 1991, and continued until at least 31 December 1995.

The other ICTY indictees who participated in this JCE include Slobodan Milosevic, Milan Martic, Milan Babic, Jovica Stanisic, Franko Simatovic, Vojislav Seselj and Zeljko Raznatovic (also known as Arkan).

Dzakula recalled a meeting he had with Arkan and Hadzic, where Hadzic asked him if it is true that he wanted to live with the Croats. The witness said that he was scared of Arkan, and replied that it was not true, which pleased Hadzic.

He said that both Hadzic and Arkan were against the return of the Croats, as they believed they were all Ustashe [the WW2 Croat forces].

Dzakula also said that the accused opposed the 1992 Vance Plan which envisaged the return of refugees and the demilitarisation of the conflict area.

During his testimony Dzakula said that Hadzic was very close to the other ICTY defendant Vojislav Seselj, who Dzakula described as one of the founding fathers of the idea of a Greater Serbia.

He said that Hadzic was also particularly close to Rade Leskovac, the main representative of Seselj’s Radical Party in Croatia.

The Serbian police arrested Hadzic in the Fruska Gora hills of northern Serbia on July 20 last year.

The arrest signalled the end of a significant chapter for Serbia’s relations with the ICTY, as Hadzic was the final fugitive on the ICTY’s list of fugitives to be arrested by the Serbian authorities.

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