A Serbian government official has confirmed the arrest of Goran Hadzic, the last remaining fugitive sought by the UN war crimes court.
Serbian authorities arrested the former leader of Croatia's rebel Serbs, during the country's bloody ethnic war, capturing the last remaining fugitive sought by the UN war crimes court.
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The official says formal confirmation will come from President Boris Tadic and that details of the arrest will come after a Tadic press conference later Wednesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Officials at the UN tribunal in The Hague, to where Hadzic would be extradited, said they could not yet confirm or deny his arrest.
Hadzic has been on the run for eight years, managing to evade justice despite international pressure for his arrest.
He is wanted for atrocities stemming from the 1991-1995 war in Croatia, when he fought against Croatia's independence from the former Yugoslavia.
Three war criminals: L- Karadzic, Mladic, Hadzic (Photo: AP)
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. Serbia - led at the time by nationalist president Slobodan Milosevic - was widely viewed as the main culprit for the wars in the Balkans.
Hunting him down
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.
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.
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