Suspected war criminal Goran Hadzic is awaiting extradition from Serbia to stand before the Hague Tribunal. His arrest on Wednesday was praised internationally, but many experts say it is still unlikely to open the way for EU membership for Serbia.
A Serbian military court has agreed to Hadzic’s extradition to the Netherlands. His lawyers said he will not appeal the decision, but it is not yet clear when he will be transported. According to the legal procedure, the defendant has three days to file an appeal to an extradition, and Hadzic may be given the time to change his mind on the issue.
Serbian media are speculating over where and how Hadzic has been hiding for seven years, ever since he had went on the run after an indictment by the Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. Some suggest that he had been abroad, and name Russia, Belarus and Romania as the possible destinations. Police sources say they received such signals over the years, but they never proved true.
Goran Hadzic was arrested in northern Serbia in the region where the famous Krusedol monastery is located. Serbian prosecutors say they picked up the fugitive’s trail thanks to an expensive painting by Amedeo Modigliani, which he sold to raise money to cover living expenses.
Hadzic, who is suspected of various crimes committed in the early 1990s, when he was the leader of Serbs in Croatia. He is the last high-profile fugitive wanted by the Hague Tribunal, and with his arrest the court will be able to focus on ending its mandate.
Some experts say the current Serbian government may have timed the arrest of Hadzic as well as the arrest of another war crime suspect Ratko Mladic, to score additional points before the parliamentary election due next year. However the hope for quick EU membership for Serbia may have little ground, since the issue of Balkan war fugitives is just one of many barring the accession.