Hadzic declines to plead at first UN war crimes tribunal appearance

Hadzic declines to plead at first UN war crimes tribunal appearance

Former Croatian Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic declined to plead Monday when he made his initial appearance before the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague on war crimes charges , reported dpa.

Hadzic, 52, made use of his right to delay a plea by 30 days as allowed by the statutes of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavi (ICTY).

In the courtroom, he appeared polite, calm and at ease. A half-smile appeared on his face on several occasions as Judge O-Gon Kwon led him through the formalities and acquainted him with procedures.

Arrested last week in Serbia after seven years on the run and transferred to The Hague on Friday, Hadzic was the final suspect the ICTY sought from Serbia.

As one of the leaders of the Serb insurgency that erupted in Croatia after it declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Hadzic has been accused of crimes against humanity and violations of the customs and practices of war.

He was allegedly a part of a joint criminal enterprise that orchestrated a campaign of terror aimed at expelling and driving non-Serbs out of the areas controlled by Serbs in Croatia.

Hadzic is accused of extermination and murder; imprisonment, torture, inhumane acts and cruel treatment; deportation and forcible transfer; and wanton destruction and plunder of private and public property.

Among the crimes he is accused of are the October 1991 execution of 264 Croatian prisoners in Vukovar, a town in eastern Croatia thoroughly destroyed in a two-month siege early in the war.

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