A significant war crimes case at the Hague against Goran Hadzic has last week Thursday 3 July reached its defence stage.
In 1992, Goran Hadzic was elected President of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK), a territory seized from Croatia by Serbs in rebellion against Croatia’s declaration of independence from communist Yugoslavia. According to the ICTY indictment Hadzic was involved in the forcible removal and murder of thousands of Croatian civilians and other non-Serbs between 1991 and 1993. Hadzic is accused of 14 crimes against humanity and violations of laws or customs of war. His indictment specifically names the 1991 massacre of 250 Croatian and non-Serb civilians from the Vukovar hospital in one of the first atrocities of the war.
Regarding detention and deportation (ethnic cleansing) the ICTY Prosecution considers Hadzic responsible for the detention of prisoners in the JNA military (Yugoslav People’s Army) prison in Sid, Serbia, police building and hangar in Dalj and the “Velepromet” warehouse in the vicinity of Vukovar, Croatia.
“The living conditions in these detention facilities were rough and characterised by inhumane treatment, overcrowding, hunger, forced labour, inadequate medical protection and constant physical and mental abuse, including false executions, torture, beating and sexual abuse,” the indictment alleges.
Under counts ten and eleven, Hadzic is charged with having supported the planning, preparation and execution of deportations or forcible relocation of Croat and other non-Serb civilians on the territory of RSK. “In order to achieve their goal, the Serb forces would surround Croat towns and villages and asked the non-Serb residents to hand over their weapons. After that, they would attack the towns and villages, even if the local residents had fulfilled their requests. The aim of the attack was to force the local population to flee. After having taken control over the territories, the Serb forces gathered Croat and non-Serb civilians and forcibly relocated them to the locations controlled by Croatian government bodies or deported them outside of Croatia,” the Hague Prosecution alleges.
At the start of the defence opening statement last Thursday, Goran Hadzic’s attorney Zoran Zivanovic stated that Hadzic is not responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Croatia from June 1991 to the end of 1993, either as an individual or as a superior. Zivanovic called on the judges to acquit the former prime minister of the Serb Autonomous Region Eastern Slavonia and the former president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina of the charges, which include the joint criminal enterprise aimed at a permanent elimination of non-Serbs from large parts of Croatia.
Zivanovic stated that in the course of its case the prosecution tried to paint Hadzic as a ‘violent man with sinister plans’. He said that Hadzic was just an ordinary family man, a former warehouse employee who wasn’t in a position to influence the events that launched him to a political function and ‘changed his life forever’.
In the final part of the opening statement, the judges watched the first part of a documentary made by George Bogdanovich, Yugoslavia: The Avoidable War. In the documentary, Slovenia, Croatia and the ‘German bid to recolonize the Balkans’ are blamed for the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. The documentary depicts Serbia as a victim.
My goodness, to Hadzic’s defence sees even Croatia and Slovenia are to blame because they wanted freedom and democracy from communist Yugoslavia oppression! Serbia according to this garbage is the victim because it brutally attacked Croatia for wanting freedom!
Then Monday 7 July Hadzic himself took the stand as first witness for his defence. Hadzic told his war crimes trial at the Hague Tribunal that serious clashes between the Croatian authorities and local Serbs erupted when the flag of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was removed from buildings in Serb-majority areas of the country in 1991 and replaced with the Croatian flag.
Well, what did this ordinary family man think would happen after 94% of his countrymen (Croatian citizen voters) voted to secede from communist Yugoslavia and proclaimed Croatia’s independence and sovereignty!?
He certainly was no ordinary family man in 1991 just as he is not that now. It’s to be remembered that it was thousands of such Serb “ordinary family men” living in Croatia who rose against Croatia’s independence, starting with terrorising their Croat and other non-Serb neighbours, beating them, knifing them, carting their men off to concentration camps in Serbia, banishing them from their homes, blocking the roads with heavy logs so that no traffic could enter into that part of Croatia they set their minds to carve off from Croatia’s sovereign territory and establish as an “ethnically clean” Serb territory.
Hadzic stressed that he advocated the continued existence of the federal state (Yugoslavia), as did some Western politicians. Yeah, but the Western advocates didn’t go about ethnically cleansing and murdering non-Serb population, although their atrocious behaviour did give the Serbs room to move and feed the arms embargo against Croatia. At the end of his statement, Hadzic asked a rhetorical question: ‘If it were true that I ordered and organized expulsions and murders of civilians and the destruction of Croatian towns and villages, if my conscience were not clear, how could my wife and daughter still live in Croatia today, as they do?’
Oh my Lord – this man is not only an indicted war criminal but also he even today presents as disturbingly malicious, twisted liar and a perverted individual who in the instance tries to suggest that if he had committed the crimes his wife and daughter couldn’t live in Croatia because Croats would kill them.
All in all, he certainly gives no indication of being an “ordinary family man” as his ICTY defence paints him. A faithful puppet of Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic regime, Hadzic was a local leader of the campaign to expel Croats from a third of Croatia and annex the territory to a “Greater Serbia” also including half of Bosnia. The campaign ended in disaster, although today’s leader of the Serbian half of Bosnia, Milorad Dodik, regularly threatens (the last public instance was late June of this year at the unveiling of monument to Gavrilo Princip whose assassination in 1914 of heir to Austro-Hungarian throne was soon follwed by the outbreak of WWI) to break away and destroy the country 19 years after the war ended. Helped by the then Serbian government, Hadzic went into hiding when indicted by the international tribunal in 2004. Detectives from The Hague tracked him to his house in Novi Sad, north of Belgrade, but the authorities failed to seize him. He was finally arrested on 20 July 2011 in the hills of northern Serbia where he was rumoured to enjoy the shelter of an Orthodox monastery.
While we wait for this case and due process to end, and we will wait for some time, if by any insane fluke Hadzic is considered an “ordinary family man” then it must be said he came from hell defined by Greater Serbia political and genocidal spheres; not a place where ordinary family men we know of come from. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)