Goran Hadzic, Croatian-Serb war crimes defendant, dies at 57

Goran Hadzic pictured in 1993 Image copyright AP
Image caption Hadzic, pictured here in 1993, led Serb separatists during the war with Croatia

The former Croatian-Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic has died at the age of 57.

He had been on trial on war crimes charges at an international tribunal but was provisionally released last year after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Hadzic led Serb separatist forces in the 1991-1995 war in Croatia, and was charged with the murder of non-Serbs.

He had pleaded not guilty and died at a hospital in Novi Sad in northern Serbia.

"After a severe illness Goran Hadzic died today," the regional hospital of Vojvodina said, according to Serbia's state-run Tanjug news agency.

In 2011 Hadzic became the last remaining wartime fugitive to be captured for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia after almost seven years on the run.

He was a central figure in the self-proclaimed Serb republic of Krajina in 1992-1993, leading the campaign to block Croatia's independence from Yugoslavia.

Serbs controlled nearly a third of Croatia at the height of the war.

The former wartime leader faced 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including persecution, extermination, and torture.

He was held responsible for the massacre of almost 300 men in Vukovar in 1991 by Croatian Serb troops and for the deportation of 20,000 people from the town after it was captured.

The Hague-based tribunal had ordered an indefinite halt to his trial in April given his medical condition.

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