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Clinton: Hadzic capture proof international justice works

By the CNN Wire Staff
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the capture of Goran Hadzic a "powerful message."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the capture of Goran Hadzic a "powerful message."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "A powerful message has been sent," Clinton says
  • Hadzic was wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity
  • The arrest comes less than two months after the capture of Ratko Mladic
  • Hadzic is the last of 161 people indicted by the ICTY
RELATED TOPICS
  • Goran Hadzic
  • Ratko Mladic
  • Serbia
  • War Crimes

(CNN) -- The capture of Goran Hadzic, the last Yugoslav war crimes suspect who had been at large, proves that international justice works, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday.

"A powerful message has been sent to those around the world who would break the law and target civilians: you will not escape judgment," Clinton said.

An ex-Croatian Serb rebel leader who had been a fugitive for seven years, Hadzic was captured in Serbia on Wednesday. He was wanted for crimes against humanity and war crimes in connection with the wars that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

The former president of a self-proclaimed Serbian republic in Croatia, Hadzic is accused of trying to remove Croats and other non-Serbs from the territory and the "extermination or murder of hundreds of Croat or other non-Serb civilians," among many other crimes, according to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

He was the last fugitive of the 161 people indicted by the tribunal.

The arrest came less than two months after the capture of the highest-profile war crimes suspect still at large, former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic.

Plans were being made for Hadzic's transfer into the Tribunal's custody after the completion of legal proceedings in Serbia. Authorities hope he'll soon be in custody at The Hague in the Netherlands, where the court is based.

"We look forward to his earliest possible transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague so that justice may be served," Clinton asid.

The European Union and NATO welcomed the capture of Hadzic, with the EU saying it would help clear the way to Serbian membership in the club of nations.

"This arrest sends a positive signal to the European Union and to Serbia's neighbors, but most of all on the rule of law in Serbia itself," EU leaders said in a joint statement, saying Serbia was "confronting the past and turning the page to a better European future."

Hadzic is the former president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina and was indicted in 2004 for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in the eastern Slavonia region of Croatia in the early 1990s.

The indictment against Hadzic said he was "a co-perpetrator in a joint criminal enterprise" -- the permanent and forcible removal of a "majority of the Croat and other non-Serb population from approximately one-third of the territory of the Republic of Croatia" to make the land part of a "new Serb-dominated state."

Under the indictment, Hadzic is charged on the basis of individual criminal responsibility for having participated in the following actions:

"Exterminating or murdering hundreds of Croat and other non-Serb civilians, including women and elderly persons, in Dalj, Dalj Planina, Erdut, Erdut Planina, Klisa, Lovas, Grabovac and Vukovar.

"Imprisoning and confining hundreds of Croat and other non-Serb civilians in detention facilities within and outside of Croatia, and establishing and perpetuating inhumane living conditions, including repeatedly torturing, beating and killing detainees in these detention facilities.

"Forcing Croat and other non-Serb civilians to perform labour when detained or under house arrest in Vukovar, Dalj, Lovas, Erdut and Tovarnik."

He is also accused of other crimes against the Croat and other non-Serb civilian population.

They are "imposing restrictive and discriminatory measures," beatings, robberies and arbitrary arrests, deportations and forcible transfer of thousands, and the deliberate destruction of "homes, other public and private property, cultural institutions, historic monuments and sacred sites.

Ratko Mladic was seized May 26 after more than 15 years in hiding and extradited to the Netherlands to face trial at the criminal tribunal five days later.

He has proved an obstructive defendant, arguing with judges about who should represent him, and in a recent appearance, a judge ordered him removed from the chamber.

His superiors during the wars that saw thousands massacred were Radovan Karadzic, who was captured earlier and is now on trial, and Slobodan Milosevic, who died in jail while on trial at The Hague.

CNN's Claudia Rebaza and Richard Allen Greene contributed to this report.

 
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