The European Union’s top officials have welcomed the arrest by Serbia of Goran Hadžić, the last man wanted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
“This is a further important step for Serbia in realising its European perspective and equally crucial for international justice,” said a statement by José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, and Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief. “We salute the determination and commitment of Serbia’s leadership in this effort.”
Hadžić was arrested north of Belgrade yesterday (19 July) and will be transferred to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague within days. His arrest follows that in May of Ratko Mladić, the wartime commander of Bosnian Serb forces and the most high-profile fugitive.
Hadžić led Serb-controlled territories within Croatia during the 1991-95 war and is charged with overseeing the killing of scores of non-Serbs and the deportation of thousands more.
Hadžić lived openly in Novi Sad, north of Belgrade, until the UN issued an arrest warrant for him in 2004. He went into hiding after being tipped off by Serbian security officials.
“This arrest sends a positive signal to the European Union and to Serbia’s neighbours, but most of all on the rule of law in Serbia itself,” the EU statement said. “The Serbian nation is in the process of confronting the past and turning the page to a better European future.”
Serbia is hoping to gain EU candidate status in December.