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Goran Hadzic pictured in 1993. Dragan Filipovic/AP/Press Association Images

Serbia captures last war crimes suspect Goran Hadzic

Hadzic has been on the run for eight years and is sought for atrocities stemming from the Balkan’s War in the 90s.

AUTHORITIES IN SERBIA have arrested Goran Hadzic, the last remaining fugitive sought by the UN war crimes court, according to Serbian TV station B92.

Hadzic, the leader of Croatia’s rebel Serbs during the country’s 1991-1995 war, has been on the run for eight years. He is wanted for atrocities stemming from the war, when he fought against Croatia’s independence from the former Yugoslavia.

Authorities would not confirm the report, but President Boris Tadic’s office called a news conference for later Wednesday morning.

His arrest, less than two months after the capture of General Ratko Mladic, would remove a major obstacle for Belgrade’s efforts to reintegrate into the international community following years of international sanctions and pariah status in the 1990s, when Serbia — led at the time by nationalist president Slobodan Milosevic — was widely viewed as the main culprit for the wars in the Balkans.

Hadzic was indicted in 2004 with war crimes and crimes against humanity, including “persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, extermination, murder, torture, deportation and forcible transfer” as well as “wanton destruction … or devastation.”

The indictment alleges that Hadzic committed the crimes with an aim to drive the Croats and other non-Serbs from the territories controlled by his self-styled authorities.

Hadzic has managed to evade justice for years, despite international pressure for his arrest. He narrowly escaped arrest in northern Serbia, apparently thanks to a tip from within the Serbian security authorities.

The country’s post-war authorities have for years faced accusations that they are not doing enough to hunt down the war crimes suspects. The issue had also blocked Serbia’s bid at EU membership. The country now hopes to become a candidate for entry later this year.

More than 10,000 people died in the Croatian war which ended when Zagreb retook the territories held by the Serbs in 1995.

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

- AP