Goran Hadzic is trying to play down the significance of his contacts with Radovan Stojicic Badza and Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan. Badza, former commander of the Territorial Defense of the Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia, and Arkan, leader of the Tiger’s unit, are listed in the indictment as participants in the joint criminal enterprise Hadzic has been charged with

Goran Hadzic testify in his own defenceGoran Hadzic testify in his own defence

As he continued the testimony in his own defense Goran Hadzic, former prime minister of the Serb Autonomous Region Eastern Slavonia, tried to play down the importance of his contacts with Radovan Stojicic Badza and Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan. The prosecution listed Badza and Arkan among the participants of the same joint criminal enterprise Hadzic is charged with. The goal of the enterprise headed by Slobodan Milosevic was to achieve a forcible and permanent elimination of non-Serbs from one third of the Croatian territory, as alleged in the indictment.

As Hadzic said, he first met Badza in a make-shift government office in the Dalj library in early August 1991. Badza entered the office wearing a dark uniform and a Heckler pistol with a silencer. Badza told Hadzic he was a high-ranking Serbian MUP officer and informed him that he would be ‘taking over the Territorial Defense’ of the Serb Autonomous Region of Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem. Badza was accompanied by Arkan who was supposed to take ‘command over the special units’, Hadzic said. In the days that followed, Hadzic received ‘indirect’ orders from Badza about what the government of the Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia should or should not do.

As Hadzic noted, he knew little about Arkan. All he knew was that he was the leader of the Red Star football fans and that he had been arrested in Croatia. They met only when Arkan ‘wanted and initiated it’ meetings. The Tigers’ leader kept an eye on Hadzic. It was Arkan who suggested to Hadzic that he was ‘not safe’, that ‘Croats will pay someone to kill [Hadzic], and that they will send in a terrorist group’. Arkan’s proposal was for him to set up the security for Hadzic. After he heard that the Serb Volunteer Guard leader had beaten a JNA lieutenant colonel in an incident, Hadzic was wary of Arkan. As he explained, Arkan ‘held everything under control’. ‘If I had agreed to get his security, I would have disappeared, I wouldn’t have been able to say anything, I would have depended on him and that is something I didn’t want to accept’, Hadzic clarified. In Hadzic’s opinion, Arkan wanted to force his security on him to be able to control him. There were rumors that Hadzic ‘favored Croatia, and was in favor of negotiations’. There were even allegations that Hadzic had been ‘drugged’ in order to ‘spill the beans’ while he was detained following his arrest on Plitvice on 31 March 1991.

Hadzic denied the allegations of General Zivota Panic, who commanded the 1st Military District of the former JNA, that Arkan’s men provided security to Hadzic. In an interview in October 1994 Panic claimed that there was an order to pull out Arkan and other paramilitary units from Eastern Slavonia, but Hadzic kept them there as his security detail. In Hadzic’s words, Arkan was ‘part of the same organism as the JNA’ and there ‘was no difference at all’ between them. He got the impression that Arkan was ‘part of the system’, Hadzic noted. However, Hadzic didn’t know ‘who was superior to whom’ in the field. Also, Hadzic denied that his government funded the center of the Territorial Defense in Erdut or Arkan’s unit. According to Hadzic, Arkan was financially independent.

Goran Hadzic will continue his evidence tomorrow.