DEN HAAG | 13.07.2016.

VICTIMS WILL NOT HEAR JUDGMENT IN HADZIC CASE

The Tribunal awaits Belgrade’s official notification of the death of accused Goran Hadzic to formally terminate the case against him. All those who had an interest in hearing the judgment, primarily the victims, will thus never know what the judges may have decided on the charges in the indictment against Hadzic

The indictment against Hadzic was issued in July 2004. The same day when the indictment was sealed and dispatched to the Serbian authorities together with his arrest warrant, Hadzic disappeared from his house in Novi Sad. Hadzic was arrested seven years later, in July 2011, on Fruska Gora.

Before the war Hadzic worked in VUPIK, a local company, in the warehouse. He was also the president of the Pacetin local commune. As the war progressed, Hadzic climbed up the hierarchy, ending up as the president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina. In the 14 counts of the indictment, Hadzic was charged with persecution, murder, extermination, torture, deportation, forcible transfer, looting and destruction of private property and religious buildings as well as with crimes against humanity and violations of laws and customs of war.

As alleged in the indictment, the crimes were part of a joint criminal enterprise headed by Slobodan Milosevic. The enterprise comprised Hadzic, Milan Martic, Jovica Stanisic, Franko Simatovic, Vojislav Seselj, Radovan Stojicic Badza, Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan and other known and unknown members of the JNA, the Territorial Defense of Serbia, Montenegro, SAO Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem, the Serbian police and its State Security Service. The paramilitary volunteers such as Arkan’s Tigers and Seselj’s Chetniks were also part of the joint criminal enterprise. The indictment alleged that the goal of the joint criminal enterprise was to forcibly and permanently eliminate non-Serbs from about one-third of the Croatian territory that was to become a part of a new state under Serb rule.

The gravest crime Hadzic was charged with was the killing of about 200 men taken from the Vukovar Hospital on 20 November 1991. The men were executed at the Ovcara farm.

Goran Hadzic's trial began on 16 October 2012. The prosecution took about 180 hours to call its evidence. During the prosecution’s case, 82 witnesses were examined and more than 3,000 exhibits were admitted into evidence. After the prosecution rested its case, the Trial Chamber denied the defense’s motion to acquit Hadzic on all counts. The defense argued that the prosecution had failed to call evidence which would, if unchallenged, to lead to a conviction. The judges found that the crimes listed in the indictment had really been committed. The Trial Chamber also confirmed the existence of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at the forcible and permanent removal of the majority of Croats and other non-Serbs from one third of Croatia’s territory, which was to form part of a new state under Serb rule. The judges concluded that the prosecution’s evidence was sufficient to prove that Hadzic significantly ‘contributed to the joint criminal enterprise and shared the intent of other participants to implement its goals’.

The defense opened its case in July 2014 with Hadzic as the first defense witness. It took Hadzic 20 days to complete his evidence. The accused appeared in the courtroom for the last time on 16 October 2014 when Savo Strbac, former secretary of the RSK government and president of the prisoner exchange commission, completed his evidence. When Hadzic returned to the Detention Unit, he fell ill. Soon afterwards, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Hadzic refused to allow the trial to proceed in his absence and the Trial Chamber rejected the prosecution’s proposals for the trial to contiue with the accused following it via video link. The judges also rejected other modalities proposed by the prosecution with a view to bringing the trial to its end. At one point, the prosecution undertook not to cross-examine the remaining defense witnesses.

Claiming that there ‘are no real chances’ for the trial to resume, in May 2016 the prosecution filed a motion for the formal termination of the case against Goran Hadzic, but the Trial Chamber rejected it.

Both parties to the proceedings and the public, primarily the victims of the crimes listed in the indictment against Goran Hadzic have thus been denied a chance to hear the judgment in his case.