[JURIST] The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia [official website] approved a restitution law that provides for compensation or the return of property confiscated by communist authorities following World War II. The bill, passed by an overwhelming majority [AP report], is part of a larger property rights reform package that is key to Serbia’s bid to join the European Union (EU) [official website], which is up for review next month. The law invites property owners or their heirs to register by 2014 in order to claim confiscated property or receive compensation which will be funded by a 15-year bond [Bloomberg report] not to exceed two billion euros. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) [official website], which approved the maximum bond amount, is expected to announce a one billion “precautionary” loan program with Serbia to avoid economic instability.
As part of its bid to join the EU, the Serbian government has increased efforts to combat organized crime and corruption as well as handing over alleged perpetrators of war crimes to the tribunal in The Hague. In July, Serbian authorities arrested [JURIST report] Goran Hadzic [ICTY backgrounder], the last fugitive of the original 161 sought for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website]. Serbian President Boris Tadic announced the arrest [B92 report], stating that Serbia has fulfilled its obligations to The Hague and was not harboring Hadzic at any time. The Special Court in Belgrade deemed Hadzic fit for extradition [B92 report] immediately after the arrest. In May, the Serbia War Crimes Court Tuesday rejected an appeal [JURIST report] by alleged war criminal Ratko Mladic [ICTY backgrounder; JURIST news archive] of the decision that he is medically fit for extradition shortly after his arrest [JURIST reports] earlier that month.