Serbia arrests last war crimes fugitive Goran Hadzic

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“This is a further important step for Serbia in realizing its European perspective and equally crucial for international justice,” said a joint statement by EU president Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barrios and foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

A tribunal statement said Hadzic will be transferred to The Hague as soon as judicial procedures are completed in Serbia. That normally takes several days.

He will then be brought before a judge to hear a reading of the 14 charges against him. He may enter a plea or delay for a month.

Tribunal president O-Gon Kwon said the arrest was a milestone in the history of the court, which has indicted 161 leaders from the former Yugoslavia since it was created in 1993 at the height of the fighting.

The tribunal has been under U.N. pressure to wind up its cases and close its doors.

Serbian security police found out that Hadzic was meeting a money courier and arrested him Wednesday morning outside the village of Krusedol, Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic told reports.

Until this week, Tadic said, Serbian officials did not know where Goran Hadzic was, despite suspicions that he had been sheltered by former allies.

In the past, Hadzic had narrowly escaped arrest, apparently due to tips from within the Serbian security authorities. Serbia’s post-war authorities have for years faced accusations that they are not doing enough to hunt down the war crimes suspects.

Serbia, widely viewed as the main culprit for the wars in the Balkans, has been working to reintegrate into the international community following years of sanctions and pariah status in the 1990s.

Milosevic was extradited to the Hague tribunal in 2001 and died there in 2006, while on trial for genocide.

Along with Mladic, Serbia has also arrested war crimes fugitives Radovan Karadzic. Both are currently facing war crimes charges in the Hague.

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Dusan Stojanovic and Slobodan Lekic contributed.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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