Goran Hadzic denies that the goal of the Serb National Council and the government of the Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia was to separate Serbs from Croats and to transfer the population in order to achieve ethnic homogeneity on both sides of the demarcation line

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

On the third day of Goran Hadzics cross-examination the prosecution highlighted the fact that the former prime minister of the Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia was a founding member of the Serb National Council (SNV). The prosecution alleges that the body promoted its goal of establishing a separation line between Croats and Serbs. The SNV aim was to help transfer the population in order to achieve ethnic homogeneity on both sides of the separation line.

To corroborate the allegation, prosecutor Douglas Stringer showed a document drafted in February 1991. In the document Ilija Petrovic, SNV spokesman, discusses the ways in which the century-long conflict between the Croat and Serb peoples could be resolved. Petrovic's suggestion was to define contentious and non-contentiousterritories. According to him, the territories Croatia controlled in the Middle Ages would belong to Croatia. This was the area where Serbs have never set their foot. The Serb territories were to encompass the regions long inhabited by the Serb folk’ – Krajina, Lika, Banija and Kordun. Baranja and Srem were contentious territories. Hadzic told the prosecutor he had never heard this ramblingand idle talk. Adding that the issue of contentious and non-contentious territories was never on the SNV agenda, Hadzic explained that the body was established to advocate Serb interests.

The prosecutor noted that at the beginning the Serb National Council had broad powers, performing government tasks until the executive and legislative bodies could be established. As Hadzic explained, at the time when the Serb National Council was created he couldnt imagine that there would be war. He accepted the post of the Councils president and later the duty of the prime minister of the Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia when he saw that there was no one in Croatia to advocate the Serb interests.

Invoking the Declaration of Sovereignty and Autonomy of the Serb people in Croatia, the prosecutor finally concluded that the Councils goal was to re-establish the demographic composition of the area that was to be part of the SNV territoryto restore the situation 'as it was before the World War II, before the genocide against Serbs and the arrival of Croats from other parts of the country. That was impossible, Hadzic said, adding, I actually don't know what the the goal of the Declaration was. At the time he was busy working on the Vance plan, Hadzic explained.

The prosecutor put it to Hadzic that he and his fellow party member Boro Savic were arrested at Plitvice on 31 March 1991 because Hadzic was the head of the Serb National Council, a body Croatia did not recognize. The fact that Milan Martic and the Krajina police captured the Plitvice National Park and declared it part of the Serb Autonomous Region of Krajina two days before the arrest might have played a part, the prosecutor noted. Hadzic said he had been 'unaware' of those developments because he had been at an SDS meeting in Obrovac on 30 March 1991. Hadzic allowed the possibility that he might have heardabout it but he wasnt interestedbecause it didnt have anything to do with the Serb Autonomous Region of Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem.

Quoting a text from the Montenegro newspaper Pobjeda of 20 September 1991, the prosecutor noted that Hadzic was given a mandate to form the new government in June 1991. In the text Hadzics information minister Ilija Petrovic recalled a proposal by the SNV to establish the controversial Western border if need be by transferring the Serb and Croatian population. Hadzic argued that Petrovic was merely expressing his opinion, not the government views. Also, Hadzic stressed that he was not the ministersguardian hovering above them and keeping count of what they were saying.

Goran Hadzic will continue his evidence tomorrow.