Death Prevents Justice Once Again For Croat Victims Of Serb War Crimes

Serb war criminal Goran Hadzic 2015/2016

Serb war criminal Goran Hadzic


Croatian Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic, 58, former leader of the 1990’s self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Krajina (part of Croatian territory occupied, ethnically cleansed of Croats and other non-Serbs, terrorised and devastated) who was tried by the UN war crimes court ICTY – International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) over his role in war crimes committed by Serb aggressor in the 1991-1995 war in Croatia, has died on Tuesday 12 July 2016 in a clinical centre in Vojvodina part of Serbia.


Hadzic wanted to create a Serb-dominated state after the splintering of the former Yugoslavia in 1991 following the collapse of communism; after Croatia announced and proceeded with the majority (94%) of its people’s wish to create an independent state, secede from communism and develop a democracy.


Hadzic was charged by ICTY prosecutor with 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The accusations include the murder/massacres of civilians who were taken from Vukovar hospital in 1991 in one of the conflict’s darkest episodes, forced deportation (ethnic cleansing by way of murder, unlawful jailing, beatings, deportations and forcible transfers) of at least 20,000 Croats and other non-Serbs from that area. He was also charged with responsibility for the massacre of Croat civilians who were forced to walk into a minefield in the Croatian town of Lovas in October 1991, one of the first crimes of the long, bloody conflict. He spent seven years on the run in Serbia from UN prosecutors after being tipped off about arrest.

Goran Hadzic 1991 Serb rebel and war criminal

Goran Hadzic 1991
Serb rebel and war criminal

Prosecutors finished presenting their case against Hadzic in November 2013 and Hadzic had just started his defense when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. In April 2015 ICTY ordered an indefinite halt to the trial as he battled the advanced stages of terminal brain cancer.

Goran Hadzic was born on 7 September in Vinkovci area, Croatia. Before the 1990’s war he worked as a store man while his political involvement began in the nineties with the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), where he was president of its Municipal branch of Vukovar, a member of the Central Committee in Knin and president of the Regional Board for Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia. In January 1991 Hadzic was elected president of the Serbian National Council in Croatia, in August of the same year he was elected Prime Minister of the Serb rebel self-proclaimed Serbian District of Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia while his political engagement that had its sight on carving Croatian territory for Serbs rose to  President of the Republic of Serbian Krajina in February 1992 after the convicted war criminal Milan Babic lost the position. Losing at December 1993 elections Hadzic went out of politics for a while.


Vukovar, Croatia 1991 - brutally devastated from Serb aggression

Vukovar, Croatia 1991 – brutally devastated from Serb aggression

Hadzic was the first on the list of about 150 war crimes Serb suspects to be excluded from the 1997 Croatian law which provided for amnesty against criminal charges for quite a number of Serb nationals suspected of committing crimes in Croatia during the war. Croatian authorities were adamant Hadzic was to face trial for war crimes; sadly the said amnesty provided many Serb war criminals (murderers, rapists, concentration camp torturers…) with freedom and no requirement to carry any responsibility for their crimes. Having fled to Serbia Hadzic was nevertheless indicted on war crimes in Croatia. In fact Croatia excluded from a war crimes amnesty for Serbs in the rebel enclave of Eastern Slavonia more than 800 people, including eminent retired and current Yugoslav army officers.  At Western insistence, the Croatian parliament had pardoned Serbs who were in the eastern region during or after a 1991 revolt against Croatia’s move to independence from the Serbian-dominated federal Yugoslavia. The amnesty, intended to reassure local Serbs in advance of Eastern Slavonia’s U.N.-supervised transfer back to Croatian authority by 1997, does not cover Serbs suspected of war crimes as defined by international law.


Although he fled to Serbia to evade justice, the Osijek County Court in 1999 sentenced Hadzic to eight years in prison, among other things, for incitement to crime, murder, destruction of the Catholic Church and the mining of non-Serb houses in Tenja, near Osijek. The Sibenik County Court had also sentenced him in 1995 to 20 years imprisonment for excessive shelling of town of Sibenik area. Enjoying the safety of Serbia, Hadzic, of course, served no time in Croatian prisons

ICTY in The Hague published its indictment against Hadzic in July 2004 on charges referred to above. Soon after hearing of the indictment he abandoned his house in Novi Sad, Vojvodina Serbia and hid as fugitive in Serbia for seven years. In October 2007 Serbia publicised a reward for information leading to the capturing of war criminal fugitives including Hadzic and he was finally arrested in Serbia July 2011 and transported to the Hague.

Ethnic cleansing of Croatians of Vukovar 1991 Photo:

Ethnic cleansing of Croatians of Vukovar 1991 Photo:


Some people out there might say that although Hadzic’s death has prevented justice from being done in his case, the crimes he was accused of do not and will not remain unpunished, because there are other Serb leaders and war criminals charged with and convicted of them. That is absolutely no consolation for victims of his crimes. However, the fact that  he was convicted by Croatian courts in absentia brings at least small consolations, and so his repugnant plea of innocence at the Hague and unfinished defence due to his death cannot bear the same weight as dying before criminal trial completion without any convictions from anywhere. Hadzic was guilty of war crimes, was found to be guilty and died as a major war criminal.

It is a terrible thing that hundreds of Croats who were targets of Hadzic’s and his associates’ war crimes are still to this day on the Missing Persons list – neither Serbia nor its war criminals have felt the decency to reveal the resting place of their remains.  It is a terrible thing to watch Serbia make progress with EU membership negotiations without being required to reveal facts and details of the fates of the missing persons from its 1990’s war of aggression against Croatia. It is a terrible thing watching Croatia’s authorities weaken their stand on this requirement from Serbia and so contribute to the painful possibility of the Croatian missing persons’ fate remaining a secret of Serbia. This smells of the late-1990’s deal of amnesty to Serb criminals and it the smell is distressing. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatian Serb War Crimes Indicted Goran Hadzic – An Ordinary Family Man From Hell

Goran Hadzic

Goran Hadzic


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)

Croatia Vs Serbia ICJ Genocide Trial Begins

Genocide in Croatia Photo: Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

Genocide in Croatia
Photo: Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

Finally – it begins! One of the most important international court cases addressing the 1990’s war of aggression against Croatia will today 3rd March 2014 begin with hearing of evidence at the trial in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague. The trial is said to end on 1st April 2014 and there is a total ban on publishing any details from the hearing until the trial ends, which include specific evidence and testimonies.

Croatia had filed a suit in 1999 against the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (the remnants of former communist Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, which disintegrated into two separate independent states in 2006/ into Serbia and Montenegro ) for genocide at the highest UN court – the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.  As Serbia and Montenegro went their separate ways in 2006, Croatia’s lawsuit at the ICJ stayed as against Serbia, and not Montenegro. In 2010 Serbia filed a counterclaim against Croatia.

Croatia aims to prove that units commanded by Serbia committed genocide in the war between 1991 and 1995.
Croatian Application to the court states, among other matters: “The Genocide Convention prohibits the destruction, in whole or in part, of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, including the elimination or displacement of members of that group from a particular territory. Between 1991 and 1995, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ( read Serbia) repeatedly violated the Genocide Convention. By directly controlling the activity of its armed forces, intelligence agents, and various paramilitary detachments, on the territory of the Republic of Croatia, in the Knin region’, eastern and western Slavonia, and Dalmatia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (read Serbia) is liable for the “ethnic cleansing” of Croatian citizens from these areas – a form of genocide which resulted in large numbers of Croatian citizens being displaced, killed, tortured, or illegally detained, as well as extensive property destruction – and is required to provide reparation for the resulting damages. In addition, by directing, encouraging, and urging Croatian citizens of Serb ethnicity in the Knin region to evacuate the area in 1995, as the Republic of Croatia reasserted its legitimate governmental authority (and in the face of clear reassurance emanating from the highest level of the Croatian Government, including the President of the Republic of Croatia, Dr. Franjo Tudjman, that the local Serbs had nothing to fear and should stay), the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (read Serbia) engaged in conduct amounting to a second round of “ethnic cleansing”, in violation of the Genocide Convention…

In July 1991, there were already 30,000 registered displaced persons in Croatia. The long list of displaced persons started with the persecution of the Croats from Lika in the spring of 1991, and intensified in the summer with the persecution of the Croats from the territory of Banovina, Kordun, eastern Slavonia, western Slavonia, west Syrmium, Baranja, Dalmatian hinterland, Drnis, and Knin. The peak of the refugee crisis occurred in November 1991, when 600,000 displaced persons were registered in Croatia, including 15,000 survivors of a massacre in Vukovar. The atrocities inflicted by the Serbs on Vukovar’s people were brutal, and the resulting humanitarian crisis among displaced persons was unprecedented. In fact, the city of Vukovar, including countless historic buildings, and cultural and sacral artefacts, was completely destroyed
by the so-called JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army).

By 1999, in the period of time following 1995, Croatia has discovered and registered at least 120 mass graves, mostly in the eastern Slavonia, Banovina, Dalmatia, and Knin regions. To date, the exhumation process has registered 2,989 bodies in both mass and individual graves. For example, in Ovchara,
near Vukovar, a mass grave was discovered, from which some 200 bodies were exhumed. These were the bodies of wounded persons and patients who had been taken from the Vukovar hospital. At the mass grave at the New Grave yard of Vukovar, 938 bodies were found, and in Bakin, 56 bodies, mostly of elderly victims, were discovered in a mass grave. In Skabrnja, near Zadar, another mass grave was recently discovered to contain 27 bodies. Also, in Vila Gavrilovik, near Petrinja, a mass grave was found that contained 17 bodies…

As a result of the aggression waged by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (read Serbia), its agents, officials, and surrogates, Croatia and its citizens suffered the following damages :
In Croatia, there were 20,000 dead and 55,000 wounded, with over 3,000 people still unaccounted for.
Out of the total number of victims, 303 children died, 35 children were taken prisoner and disappeared, and 1,276 children were wounded.1,700 people were killed in Vukovar alone (1,100 of them were civilians), more than 4,000 people were wounded, between 3,000 and 5,000 taken prisoner, and 1,000 people are still unaccounted for.

In 1992, the humanitarian crisis in Croatia was at its peak, with approximately 800,000 displaced persons and refugees, which constituted more than 15 per cent of the total population of Croatia. Several thousand Croat civilians were taken prisoner and forcibly transferred to Serbia and other areas of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Of the 7,000 people later released, 60 per cent had spent time in prisons or detention facilities in Serbia.

According to estimates by the National Commission for the Registration and Assessment of War Damages, 590 towns and villages suffered damage, 35 were razed to the ground, with another 34 suffering significant damage. 1,821 cultural monuments were destroyed or damaged, including about 651 in the area of Dubrovnik-Neretva County and about 356 in the area of Osijek-Baranja County.

Three national parks, five natural parks, 19 special reservations, 10 parks, and 19 park cultural monuments were damaged. 323 historical sites and settlements were destroyed or damaged. 171,000 housing units (constituting approximately 10 per cent of the housing capacity of Croatia) were destroyed, often by arson.
Approximately 450 Croatian Catholic churches were destroyed or severely damaged, with lesser damage to over 250 others. In addition, approximately 151 rectories, 31 monasteries, and 57 cemeteries were destroyed or severely damaged. 210 libraries were destroyed or damaged (from school libraries to such famous libraries as those in Dubrovnik).

22 journalists were killed, many of whom were trying to reveal the truth about the aggression against Croatia.

Estimates indicate that upwards of 3 million various explosive devices were planted within Croatia, mostly anti-personnel and anti-tank devices. These mines are, for the most part, uncharted, and block about 300,000 hectares of arable land. About 25 per cent of Croatia’s total economic capacity, including such large facilities as the Adriatic Pipeline, was damaged or destroyed during 199 1 – 1992. Approximately 10 per cent of Croatia’s tourist facilities were damaged or destroyed by the FRY-backed forces and agents…

In this genocide ICJ case Croatia wants to be clearly identified as the victim of the war and that would surely stop the equating of the victim and aggressor that had been a prolific and evilly twisted political push, clearly originating from Serbia and its supporters.
The suit calls on Serbia to have all Serbian war criminals put on trial, all cultural assets seized during the war to be given back to Croatia, and calls for the payment of reparations to Croatia. Additionally, Croatia wants an explanation of what happened to the more than 1,400 Croatians who have been missing since the war.

The genocide counterclaim against Croatia, Serbia filed in 2010, will see claims of Serbs killed during that war in Croatia, it’s 2010 claim that 200,000 Serbs were expelled from Croatia in 1995 after the Croatian military Operation Storm, which liberated Croatian sovereign territory from Serb occupation, is surely not to hold any water at the ICJ given that the ICTY had in November 2012 in its acquittal of Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac found that there had been no forced deportations of Serbs from Croatia.

Serbia, however, seems to introduce into this case WWII killings of Serbs in Croatia!

Well, well, well! If such is permitted then I do hope that Croatia will have the opportunity to insert another claim to its Application – that of murdered Croats under the tyranny and dictatorship of the Serb-led Kingdom of Yugoslavia prior to WWII!

Lately, there has been much thrashing about in the media by legal professionals that neither Croatia nor Serbia have a chance of winning this case. Most refer to the case when in 2007 ICJ judges acquitted Serbia (in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina Vs Serbia) of direct responsibility for the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, finding it guilty only of failing to prevent and punish the perpetrators of this crime. However, in the same breath, ICJ ruled that genocide took place in mid-1995 at Srebrenica when almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb troops after they overran a UN-protected enclave.
These legal professionals who thrash about saying that the case of genocide at the ICJ has no prospects are fools for rushing out so, to my view. From many articles I have read in the past couple of weeks none of these legal professionals have mentioned that Bosnia’s lawyers were unable to access transcripts from meetings of Serbia’s Supreme Defence Council, SDC, which they believed were crucial to proving the case.
Although minutes from these meetings are widely believed to contain vital information about Belgrade’s involvement in the wars in Bosnia and Croatia, their most relevant parts had been granted confidential status by the judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY and it would be a miserable day for justice if these documents do not appear as evidence in 2014 at ICJ!

So far there have at the ICTY been both charges and convictions of Croatian Serb Krajina individuals for crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing …, e.g. Milan Babic, Milan Martic, Mile Mrksic, Veselin Sljivancanin, Pavle Strugar and cases still on ICTY Trial: Goran Hadzic and Vojislav Seselj. Links to Serbia, Yugoslav People’s Army and Serbia’s government including president Slobodan Milosevic have been established. This, I believe is most significant for Croatia’s claim against Serbia, let alone the mountains of evidence that’s surely to land in the ICJ courtroom during the coming month – aspects of genocide are many and the totality of the various horrors that included mass killings surely equate to genocide in moral and legal sense.

Zvonimir SeparovicThe 1999 lawsuit of Croatia against Serbia for genocide was a major contribution to seeking justice for the victims of Serb aggression under the then minister of justice dr Zvonimir Separovic, a legal scholar and politician. His dedication to justice for victims of war and other mass crimes is a permanent co-traveler in his life – he is a pioneer of victimology and today, despite his advanced age, still heads with great vigour and determination the Croatian Victimology Society, whose goals include justice for victims of communist crimes.

I join the multitudes of Croats and victims of war crimes in wishing the Croatian legal team in the ICJ the victory Croatia truly deserves. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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