20/7 Tass 271
MOSCOW, July 20 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia hopes that the trial of Goran Hadzic will be objective and impartial and will not be used for delaying the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Foreign Ministry’s special representative for human rights, democracy and supremacy of law Konstantin Dolgov said.
Hadzic, former president of the Serbian Krajina Republic in Croatia in 1991-1995, was arrested in Serbia on Wednesday, July 20.
“The President of the Republic of Serbia, Boris Tadic, made a statement, confirming the intention to extradite the suspect to The Hague,” the ministry said.
State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev also hopes for “objective and impartial” trial of Hadzic.
“The arrest of Hadzic is a normal result of the ICTY’s work. There must be an investigation, but it must be objective and impartial,” he said.
Kosachev said, however, that Russia has many questions about the work of the ICTY, such as why it is investigating Serbian crimes, while taking “passive action” or taking no action at all against other participants in those events in the Balkans.
“This gives me the impression that the Hague tribunal is trying to fit a legal framework to the Western interpretation of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. And this suggests that the ICTY is too politicised,” Kosachev said.
He believes that the activities of present-day Kosovo leaders, who have been accused of selling human organs, could also be investigated by the Hague tribunal. “But there must a preliminary investigation. It is obvious that the EU mission cannot do this alone. I think U.N. structures should be engaged,” he said.
According to Kosachev, the mandate of the Hague tribunal should be closed with Hadzic’s arrest. “The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as we know it has exhausted itself. Hadzic’s arrest should put an end to its existence,” he said.
Top U.N. officials welcomed the arrest of Hadzic, who has been at large for more than seven years and was the court’s last remaining fugitive.
Hadzic was indicted in 2004 for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in eastern Slavonia, Croatia, between 1991 and 1992.
His alleged crimes include participation in exterminating or murdering hundreds of Croat and other non-Serb civilians, deporting or forcibly transferring tens of thousands of them, and imprisoning and confining hundreds of them in detention facilities within and outside of Croatia.
He was the last remaining fugitive of the 161 persons indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which is based in The Hague.
“Mr. Hadzic’s apprehension sends a powerful message that those who are alleged to have committed such crimes cannot evade justice and will be held accountable,” the spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.
“The Secretary-General’s thoughts today are first and foremost with the victims of Mr. Hadzic’s alleged crimes, the victims of other serious international crimes, and their families. Ending impunity is an essential step for reconciliation, sustainable peace and justice in the region,” the statement added.
The ICTY’s prosecutor, Serge Brammertz said that Mr. Hadzic’s transfer into the court’s custody is a “long- awaited development” for the victims of the crimes charged against him.
“It is also an important milestone in the tribunal’s history. Eighteen years after the tribunal’s creation, we can now say that no indicted person has successfully evaded the tribunal’s judicial process. This is a precedent of enduring significance, not only for this tribunal, but also for international criminal justice more generally,” Brammertz said.
Hadzic is now awaiting transfer from Serbia to The Hague, following the completion of relevant legal proceedings required by Serbian law. After his transfer to the tribunal, he will be detained pending his initial appearance before a judge, at which time he will have an opportunity to enter a plea to each of the charges brought against him in the indictment.
The apprehension of Hadzic comes less than two months after the arrest of wartime Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic. Brammertz noted that these combined events mark a long-awaited step forward in Serbia’s cooperation with the tribunal.
“Serbia has now produced visible evidence that cooperation with the tribunal is not an empty promise but a genuine commitment and we look forward to Serbia’s assistance with our ongoing work,” he stated. “In the weeks and months ahead we will continue to ask Serbia – and all States of the former Yugoslavia – to support our cases by providing access to archives documents and witnesses.”