Today, after seven years on the run, President Boris Tadic of Serbia announced that the last major Serbian war criminal was arrested. The fugitive, Goran Hadzic, a former rebel leader who was indicted on June 4, 2004 for 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the ethnic cleansing that he helped orchestrate in Croatia in the early 1990's, was arrested earlier today north of Belgrade, near his family home in the Fruska Gora mountain. Hadzic is one of many responsible for the 1991 Vukovar massacre, also known as the "Vukovar hospital massacre" where close to three hundred men were murdered by members of the Serb militia, and some 20,000 non-Serbs were deported from their homes. It is believed that the Serbian security forces tipped Hadzic off right before his indictment and he has been on the run ever since.
Today, BAACBH remembers all of the victims of the Vukovar massacre as well as all victims of genocide; and let us not forget that justice is the only path towards a democratic and prosperous Southeast Europe. While we welcome the arrest of Goran Hadzic we do not believe that this closes the chapter on the atrocities that occurred in the 1990's. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), U.S. Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman stated that "Serbia's cooperation, while improving, remained problematic over the years, but when I visited Belgrade earlier this month I felt the country was genuinely trying to remove the last vestiges of the extreme nationalist sentiment that has dominated the country's politics for far too long. Serbia's reluctance to change course certainly held their nation back from where it should be regarding European integration, but the arrest of Hadzic confirms a solid commitment to change. I encourage Serbian officials to continue to do the right thing for their country and its neighbors." With that said, it is important to note while Serbia has fulfilled its international obligation by capturing Hadzic, it must now open a new chapter and focus on the truth and reconciliation process within the region in order for sustainable peace and prosperity to occur.