In the cross-examination of Goran Hadzic, the prosecutor put it to him that his government implemented a policy designed to achieve a Serb majority in Eastern Slavonia: non-Serbs were made to leave the area and Serbs from Western Slavonia came in to replace them. Hadzic argues that the JNA was the sole culprit for the expulsions

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

After a four-week break Goran Hadzic continued his marathon evidence in his own defense. The former prime minister of the Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia and president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina was cross-examined by prosecutor Douglas Stringer today. Stringer has about three court days to complete Hadzic’s cross-examination.

The cross-examination today focused for the most part on the expulsion of non-Serbs from Eastern Slavonia in late 1991 and early 1992 and the settling of Serbs who had come in from Western Slavonia. As alleged in the indictment, Hadzic was responsible for the deportation or forcible transfer of tens of thousands of Croats and other non-Serbs from Eastern Slavonia.

The prosecutor put it to Hadzic that the decree on temporary protection of abandoned property adopted in October 1991 regulated the issue of abandoned houses that belonged to the expelled non-Serbs. Hadzic claimed that both Serbs and Croats left their homes and ‘sought to flee from the fighting’. Hadzic also argued that had never received any reports about ‘anyone being expelled’; he was only told that Croats had left together with the Croatian Army. The prosecutor then noted that the same decree called for the settling of Serbs from Western Slavonia in the abandoned Croatian houses. This played right into the hands of the local authorities because before the war, Serbs were not in the majority in any of the municipalities under Hadzic’s control. Hadzic claimed that it ‘is not true’, noting that the only purpose of the decree was to ‘protect abandoned property from looting’.

According to a document issued by the former JNA’s 1st Military District, the Commission for the Immigration and Temporary Accommodation was actively involved in providing accommodation for Serbs who had been ‘arriving in a disorganized manner’ in the Vukovar area. The commission was established in December 1991 by Hadzic’s government. According to Hadzic, the government ‘tried’ to take part in the task that the JNA had already completed. The document stated that the government’s goal was to change the demographic structure ‘at any price, even by pushing people under the projectiles in combat zones’. In the face of this evidence, Hadzic said it was the JNA’s conclusion, and it that the JNA had in fact cleansed the area of Croats.

Hadzic claimed that Eastern Slavonia was under military administration and that the government did not deal with the issue of Croats moving out and Serbs settling in their place, and was roundly criticized by the JNA because of that. According to the prosecutor, this claim is contradicted by a document from March 1992 which states that the government ‘continued evacuating the non-Serb population’ in order to make ‘Serbs a demographic majority’ in Eastern Slavonia.

Hadzic replied that it had all happened in the area of responsibility of the JNA. He laughed as he said that ‘no one in the government could order the JNA to do anything’. The person who wrote that ‘lied through their teeth’, said Hadzic. ‘Some individuals, fools, and impostors’ may have been responsible for the expulsions but it couldn’t have been implemented without the JNA’s permission, as the JNA had everything under its control. ‘A bicycle couldn’t move in the area without the JNA’s knowledge, let alone a bus’, Hadzic concluded. Goran Hadzic continues his evidence tomorrow.