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Hadzic Enters Not Guilty Plea

Court officials must now assign defendant a permanent lawyer.
By Rachel Irwin
  • <p>
	Goran Hadzic in the ICTY courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)</p>
    <p> Goran Hadzic in the ICTY courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)</p>

The former political leader of rebel Serbs in Croatia, Goran Hadzic, this week entered a not guilty plea at his second appearance before judges at The Hague tribunal.

In his first appearance on July 25, Hadzic refused to enter a plea. According to tribunal rules, defendants have 30 days to do so after their first appearance. If he had failed to do so, the court would have entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

In court on August 24, Hadzic appeared calm and displayed no emotion as he told presiding Judge Guy Delvoie that he was not guilty of the charges laid against him.

The judge said another status conference would be scheduled in due course.

In the meantime, the court registry has been granted additional time – until September 23 – to assign Hadzic a permanent lawyer, since the individual he has selected is not on the official list of qualified defence attorneys and must first be vetted by the court.

From June 1991 until the end of 1993, Hadzic was the highest civilian political leader in the Serb-claimed regions of Croatia.

He was arrested in Serbia on July 20 after seven years on the run, and was the last wartime fugitive wanted by the Hague tribunal.

Hadzic is charged with 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Croatians and other non-Serbs, including persecution, extermination, murder, imprisonment, torture, inhumane acts, cruel treatment, deportation, wanton destruction and plunder.

The indictment was originally filed in 2004, but judges confirmed an amended version shortly after his arrest this summer. In the amended document, Hadzic is charged not only with planning, ordering, instigating and or aiding and abetting the alleged crimes, but also with command responsibility.

This means that even if he did not plan or order the crimes himself, he stands accused of knowing, or having reason to know, that the crimes in question had been or would be committed by his subordinates, and of failing to take “necessary and reasonable” measures to prevent the crimes or punish the perpetrators.

Hadzic is also alleged to have been part of a “joint criminal enterprise” with other political and military leaders – including the late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, current Hague defendant Vojislav Seselj, and paramilitary leader Zeljko Raznatovic, also known as Arkan.

The alleged purpose of this joint criminal enterprise was the “permanent 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” in order to create a Serb-dominated state.

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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