Accessibility links

Hadzic Could Head for Hague War Crimes Tribunal Friday

Crosses at the 1991 war victims cemetery in Vukovar, Croatia, July 21, 2011

Crosses at the 1991 war victims cemetery in Vukovar, Croatia, July 21, 2011

The former leader of Croatia's ethnic Serbs, Goran Hadzic, could be handed over to the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands as early as Friday.

The last remaining fugitive sought by the tribunal, Hadzic, was arrested Wednesday in the mountainous Fruska Gora region, about 65-kilometers north of Belgrade.

The Hadzic, 52, led Croatia's rebel Serbs during the Balkans war in the 1990s. He disappeared in 2004 when the Hague tribunal indicted him for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is charged with ordering the killing of hundreds of non-Serbs in Croatia and deporting thousands of others.

Hadzic's attorney says his client will not appeal his extradition to the Hague court.

Serbian President Boris Tadic said Wednesday Hadzic's arrest closes "a burdensome and gloomy page" in Serbian history. Hadzic's arrest is seen as an important step in Serbia's bid to join the European Union.

Hadzic's wife, sister and son, who had not seen him in seven years, visited him early Thursday in the detention unit of Serbia's Special Court building in Belgrade.

Serbia's chief war crimes prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic, said Hadzic was running out of money. He said authorities searching for Hadzic got a break when he tried to sell a stolen painting by the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani.

Hadzic was arrested two months after police nabbed former Bosnian-Serb military leader Ratko Mladic, who is on trial for genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim males.