[QODLink]
Europe
Serb war crimes suspect appears at UN court
Goran Hadzic, Serbia's last major war crimes suspect, declines to enter plea during first appearance at UN tribunal.
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2011 18:24

Serbia's last major war crimes suspect has declined to enter a plea on charges over the 1991-1995 Croatian war, during his first appearance at the UN's Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.

"Mr [Goran] Hadzic is not going to enter a plea today. He is going to avail himself of the rights granted to him ..," Vladimir Petrovic, Hadzic's duty counsel, told the court in The Hague on Monday.

Al Jazeera's Emma Hayward, reporting from The Hague, said the hearing took less than 15 minutes.

"When he was asked to enter a plea he decided not to, which is within his right. He now has 30 days to give that plea, so we expect him back at the tribunal at the end of August.

"We now believe he has gone back to the UN custody suite, where he will work with his defence team on his case. He may not be as famous as some of the people who appeared before the tribunal, but he is no less important, a tribunal spokesman told me."

'Symbolic moment'

The arrest of Hadzic, 52, and his transfer to The Hague last week was 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 arrest all wanted war criminals before it grants candidate status for membership. It is due to issue a progress report in October.

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

Judge O-Gon Kwon said that a second arraignment hearing would be scheduled within 30 days as Hadzic had not entered a plea.

On the run

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.

Serbian security officials arrested Hadzic about 65km 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.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Chemotherapy is big business, but some US doctors say it could be overused and are pushing for cheaper and better care.
Amid vote audit and horse-trading, politicians of all hues agree a compromise is needed to avoid political instability.
Part of the joint accord aimed at ending the political impasse establishes an independent National Election Commission.
Rights groups say the US prosecution of terrorism cases targets Muslims and are fraught with abuses.
Local painters forgo experimentation to cater to growing number of foreign buyers.
join our mailing list