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UN Hague Tribunal Frees Croatian Generals

UN War Crimes Tribunal Acquits Croatian Generalsi
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November 16, 2012
Appeals judges at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague have acquitted two Croatian generals convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity and ordered their immediate release. Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac had been sentenced to 24 and 18 years, respectively, in 2011 for their roles in a 1995 military offensive to drive Serb rebels out of Krajina, a Croatian region bordering Bosnia. (Reuters)

WATCH: UN War Crimes Tribunal Acquits Croatian Generals

By RFE/RL
The most senior Croatian military officers convicted of war crimes have been freed after the UN court in The Hague acquitted them on appeal.

Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac had been sentenced to 24 and 18 years, respectively, in 2011 for their roles in a 1995 military offensive to drive Serbian rebels out of Krajina, a Croatian region bordering Bosnia-Herzegovina.

A Croatian government plane carrying the two men arrived hours later in Zagreb, where they were welcomed by Croatia's prime minister and other officials.

Gotovina told a cheering crown in the city's main square that "We have won, the war is over and let's turn to the future."

Judge Theodor Meron read out the decision at a hearing of the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.

Portraits of Ante Gotovina (foreground) and Mladen Markac are seen as people celebrate the court decision in Zagreb.Portraits of Ante Gotovina (foreground) and Mladen Markac are seen as people celebrate the court decision in Zagreb.
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Portraits of Ante Gotovina (foreground) and Mladen Markac are seen as people celebrate the court decision in Zagreb.
Portraits of Ante Gotovina (foreground) and Mladen Markac are seen as people celebrate the court decision in Zagreb.
Some 200,000 ethnic Serbs were driven from Krajina and at least 150 were killed in an offensive known as Operation Storm.

UN judges in 2011 had ruled both men, who helped plan and run Operation Storm, were part of a criminal conspiracy led by the late Croatian President Franjo Tudjman to expel Serbs. But appeals judges said no such conspiracy existed.

Gotovina, who led the Croatian forces, and Markac, who was in charge of the special police troops, are considered heroes in their home country.

Cheering Crowds

Thousands of people in Croatia's capital had cheered the ruling as they watched the court proceedings live on television.

People in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, cheer seconds after the UN war crimes court announced the acquittal of former Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac.People in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, cheer seconds after the UN war crimes court announced the acquittal of former Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac.
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People in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, cheer seconds after the UN war crimes court announced the acquittal of former Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac.
People in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, cheer seconds after the UN war crimes court announced the acquittal of former Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac.
Croatian Defense Minister Ante Kotromanovic said it had finally been proven that Croatia carried out the 1995 operation "honorably," but Serb President Tomislav Nikolic said the acquittal "will open old wounds."

But Serbian officials reacted angrily to the ruling.

President Tomislav Nikolic was quoted as saying the acquittal was a "political decision" that "will open old wounds." Deputy Prime Minister Rasim Ljajic said the UN court has lost "all credibility" by acquitting the two generals.

"The government expressed its bitterness over the ruling," Ljajic said. "Instead of bringing justice to victims and their families, the decision adds salt to injury. This is a slap in the face for the international justice and for the process of reconciliation." 

The two had been indicted in the early 2000s by The Hague court. Markac surrendered voluntarily in 2004, while Gotovina, who had been on the run for four years, was arrested in the Canary Islands in 2005.

His arrest came as the European Union made it clear that Croatia's chances of joining the bloc depended on finding war criminals and bringing them to justice. Croatia is now set to join the 27-member bloc in July 2013.

Peter Stano, a spokesman for EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele, acknowledged the court's decision and urged Croatia to continue on the path of reconciliation.

"We sympathize with all the victims of the war and with their families," Stano said. "And we understand that it will take time until all the wounds from this war are healed. What we need to reiterate, as well, is that we trust that Croatia will continue to look to the future in the spirit of tolerance and reconciliation, which brought this country where its stands today -- that is, on the threshold of European Union membership."

WATCH: Crowds celebrate the news in Zagreb
Croats Jubilant After UN Court Acquits Generals i
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November 16, 2012
Shouts of jubilation broke out on Zagreb's main square on November 16 as a UN appeals court overturned the convictions of two Croatian generals convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity and ordered their immediate release. (Reuters video)

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and the BBC
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by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
November 16, 2012 14:24
These judges, finally lost their conscience.It's disgusting decision a shame the whole decadent Europe.....justify two murderers, who killed innocent serbian women and children...no words.
I especially liked:
"UN judges in 2011 had ruled both men, who helped plan and run Operation Storm, were part of a criminal conspiracy led by the late Croatian President Franjo Tudjman to expel Serbs.
BUT APPEALS JUDGES SAID NO SUCH CONSPIRASY
EXISTED.."
They seem to have had in mind that there are no written orders to kill Serbs...
The bandits said, "We are not guilty"and this is the proof that the bandits are not guilty-)))))
On the other hand it is clear that if the generals were Serbs, they would get a life sentence.
Court fully turned into an anti-Serbian buffoonery..
We support the Serbian brothers who oppose the hypocrisy and arrogance of an aging Europe...
In Response

by: luckeyone1 from: london
November 17, 2012 00:26
Did venting helped ? Serb started war.You reap what you sow.
In Response

by: BorisLav from: Serbia
November 17, 2012 13:24
"The Croats are the bravest people in the world, not because they are not afraid of anything, but because they are not ashamed of nothing" - Jovan Ducic

"In light of the above, I fundamentally dissent from the entire Appeal Judgement, which contradicts any sense of justice." - Judge Fausto Pocar

"For the reasons set out below, I respectfully but strongly disagree with almost all of the conclusions reached by the Majority in this Appeal Judgement. Furthermore, I wish to register my disagreement with the approach taken by the Majority throughout the Appeal Judgement, and to
distance myself from that approach." - Judge Carmel Agius
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 17, 2012 10:46
I mean, Vakhtang, after this "tribunal" set free the Albanian kidney-trafficking mafia boss Haradinaj a couple of years ago - and this guy is known for his crimes ever since the days when he was trafficking who knows what in Switzerland in the 1980s - what did you expect they would do to Gotovina?
I think this decision is only LOGICAL and what it does is once again demonstrating that NATO - now that it's living through the last stage of its existence - is nothing other but the extended arm of the US govt and is used to cover up the US-armed and -supported criminals, such as Haradinaj and Gotovina.
And the latter, Vakhtang, once again underlines the importance of the work that Putin in doing is Syria these days: What the Beavuses want is to turn Syria into another Yugoslavia in which they would install all sorts of Haradinajs and Gotovinas as "prime-ministers" and "national heros". And what Putin is doing is helping the people of Syria to successfully prevent that from happening.
In Response

by: RiseM from: USA
November 17, 2012 17:43
"justify two murders" kill INNOCENT serbian women and children" are you kidding me? you should try educating youself first before posting b.s. and look up "operation storm. It took place in Bosnia working with Bosnians to defend whats theirs that was taken over by SERBS. Get you facts straight dude. And while your at it read about Srebranica massacre and numerous of other ppl that "innocent" serbs killed.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 18, 2012 09:25
To RiseM: "Dude", it looks like YOU ARE the one who needs to "educate yourself" and "get you facts straight": The Operation Oluja or Storm did NOT take place in Bosnia: it took place in the (back then) majority Serbian populated region of CROATIA called Srpska Krajina. This operation resulted into what is known in the lntl Law as ETHNIC CLEANSING: several hundreds of thousands of (primarily rural) ethnic Serbs have been CLEANSED by the Croatian Army from the places where they have been living FOR CENTURIES.
So, if you would like participants of this forum to reduce the amont of b.s. posted (which is not a bad idea), you, primitive Beavus from Detroit or some other bankrupt US cloaca, should start by cutting the amout of the b.s. that you yourself produce.
In Response

by: RiseM from: USA
November 18, 2012 14:56
There is no part of Croatia that is predominantly serb. Knin and everything around that town belonged to Croats. And just cause i said Bosnia instead doesnt mean that i dont have my facts staight. There is such a thing as Herzegovina, what the hell would you call that? Now if youre talking about a "self proclaimed" Serb part, then ok yes, serbs came in and said "oh hey, yes this is now serbian" When it comes to WAR, theres not much one can do except fight or die, and what Croats did was fight. Which is what any normal people would do during a WAR to defend THEIR country and THEIR people. I understand if you wouldn't do the same thing! Its all good. Also, I am not a dude, and not an American. Thanks for listening :)

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
November 16, 2012 15:09
Aah,whoever heard of a catholic,zionist or a russian communist ever indicted??? No,sir they are all innocent as Mad elaine All bright,Hillarious Hillary and her arab springers and all their Corporate puppeteers.Long Live Shamerican style justice!!!

by: Neda von Radoic from: USA
November 16, 2012 15:17
It's about time Haag realized that Mr. Gotovina and other Croatian generals defended Croatia and did not initiate any aggression against Serbs, but only defended their turf. Serbs attacked Slovenia, Croatia and B & H with intention to occupy and own these territories. Peoples of these countries had no choice but to defend themselves. War is ugly and brings the worst in people. When somebody attacks your territory you defend it with all you have. Croatians love their country. So did general Gotovina. He defended his country because he loved it and loves it just like the rest of us.
Croatian army and Mr. Tudjman successfully freed Croatia from Serbian army. All Croatians helped, including 2 million of us that live in the US.
A lesson to learn: Attacking somebody elses' territory will not bring success. Love of the country will bring the best in their citizens and they will put the most, 100% effort to free it.
Nationalizm is important, love of the country is important.
That love freed Croatia.
Thank you Ante Gotovina (and many other Croatian solders) for your sacrifice and love of your country. I am so glad you, Mr. Gotovina, is free.
In Response

by: www.operationnemes.com from: Srpska Krajina
November 17, 2012 06:40

"1995 military offensive to drive Serbian rebels out of Krajina, a Croatian region bordering Bosnia-Herzegovina."

Can you tell us exactly how Serbian lands became yours? Was it through centuries of genocide culminating with Nazi Ustashi campaign of "kill 1/3 of Serbs, Convert 1/3 of them to Catholicism, and Expel the remaining 1/3"?

So the "200,000 ethnic Serbs were driven from Krajina" were all "Serbian rebels" including women, children and elderly?

And Germans didn't participate in this by arming Croatian Neo-Nazi regime with the weapons they got from the former German Democratic Republic? And who trained "the special police troops"?

Out of the "2 million" of you who live in the US, how many are descendants of Croatian Nazi who lied on their paperwork to get to the US after WWII?
In Response

by: Steve from: Nz
November 17, 2012 11:59
Neda,this is your homework dictated to you by somebody.If you want to have clear picture of this world , for you and your children,search Google,find informations,compare and make your own decision.This is the only way for you to live in real world with real justice.
In Response

by: Newbie from: canada
November 17, 2012 07:11
it is easy for you to say that, you weren't an 8 year old child trying to run for his life while the army attacked. You guys ware safe on north american soil. In any war that happens there is no right person all who take up arms and try to kill another human being should be punished. As well get your facts state Slovenia separated peacefully.
In Response

by: nugget
November 24, 2012 13:26
Get your facts straight. Slovenia had a 10 day war. It did not separate peacefully, then they just decided to focus on Croatia and Croatia became a buffer zone. What you Serbs fail to realise that not a single croat and bosnian fought a war on serbian soil. You attacked other countries and killed innocent people for being non Serb claiming land as "Serbian land". You can thank father Turkey who you hate so much for your spreading in Croatia and Bosnia.
In Response

by: RiseM from: USA
November 18, 2012 17:57
YES!!! :)

by: Mike
November 16, 2012 16:10
Disgusting. Its clearer than ever now that the tribunal is biased. Their German friends must have had a hand in this as usual. Of course a country that is guilty of war crimes shouldn't have been allowed to enter the EU that easily. So what do you do next, erase the war crimes and pretend that notihing happened.
In Response

by: R.E.M. from: Germany
November 16, 2012 23:15
German influence on the UN tribunal is very small. The US and the British are more likely to control that court. It seems that there were different interests between them. Usually the british support Serbia when ever it is possible. This time it was different.
In Response

by: Marko from: Canada
November 17, 2012 00:32
Everyone against this decision is just a butthurt serb or a russian "brother", did serbs not expect to die when they tried to take Croatia. Please stop embarrassing yourselves Gotovina is innocent, and serbs are 99.9% the aggressors so all of your stupid excuses and arguements are invalid.
In Response

by: BorisLav from: Serbia
November 17, 2012 13:28
Here's who helps the Croats
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_clergy_involvement_with_the_Usta%C5%A1e

by: Michael Kovac from: Vancouver
November 16, 2012 22:14
On behalf of the United Croats of Canada, King Tomislav Branch - We congratulate Generals Gotovina and Markac, their legal teams, and all Croatians on this win! Ziveli Hrvati!
In Response

by: peter from: ottawa
November 18, 2012 22:00
united croats of canada is an Ustashi front full of fake Xians and nationalist mongrels

by: Ana
November 16, 2012 22:49
I was 11 years old when i had to leave my home with my family and over 200 000 of my Serbian people. This ruling pours salt to a bleeding wound that will never heal. I am ashamed to live in a world where ethnic cleansing is forgotten and no one held responsible. I cry for my people.
In Response

by: zvonimir from: Croatia
November 22, 2012 13:59
I was 15y old when my family were hiding in Vukovar while serbs were destroying my hometown.. My mother was injured but we couldn't go to the hospital because serbs also destoryed hospital. You were lucky, you have time to prepare an leave.. my familiy didn't.. my father fought in Operation Storm, together with one British soldier who saw your crimes on TV and decided to help us to reclaim land. First blood spilled in that war was croatian blood, and whole world know who spilled it.. Keep crying, but for crimes of your people ..

by: Michael from: Berlin
November 17, 2012 00:00
So it's a selective justice after all? It seems that Serbs are the ones who always suffer the greater injustice from their EU neighbours.
"Free untill proven to be a Serb": Hague saying....
Shame on you and your fake justice EU&Hague!!!

by: Mark from: Sydney
November 17, 2012 01:12
How interesting all this people that don't agree with desision never rise they voice when Serbs was attacking and destroying Croatia... talking about taking side... its pointless even traying to tell you the FACTS..but if you still that stupid and naive go and see VUKOVAR and have look some video and picture what happend in VUKOVAR 1 of many places that SERBS had blood on they hands. I guess most of you guys wouldn't know what I am talking about !
In Response

by: Alex from: Copenhagen
November 17, 2012 11:01
Justice is undone. Those generals have ordered killing and deportation, which was unseen since ww2. Vukovar was a crime, but here 220.000 civilians were deported and 552 women killed, 14 children and 1300 men, disgusting from american and turkish judges!!!!

by: peter from: Milton, Canada
November 17, 2012 04:21
Croatia did what no other country did. They carried out genocide and ethnic cleansing with the help of Europe and US. No surprise nobody is going to pay for it. Percentage of Serbs in Croatia was around 33% in 1931. This was greatly reduced to by genocide carried out in WW2 with official policy: "A third must become Catholic, a third must leave the country, and a third must die!” (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_persecution_of_Serbs) and further reduced with a help of Western Europe and US in period from 1991 to nowadays to 4%. These are facts no shameful court can deny this.
In Response

by: Bob from: Toronto
November 19, 2012 22:53
peter peter pumpkin eater...as the fairy tale goes. you write lots of fantasy too...learn about facts...not fiction.

by: Mark from: Australia
November 17, 2012 08:54
This article is lacking focus on legal issues and too much coverage of comments from politicians not versed in international law (with the exception of the Croatia president). Trial judge made significant errors and the case against the generals did not meet the evidentiary or legal burden of the charge. The Croatian generals were also denied natural justice (procedural fairness) when the trial judge introduced a 200 m rule not adduced from evidence. Washington Post had better coverage of the legal issues: http://m.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/croatian-generals-convictions-overturned/2012/11/16/171edade-3011-11e2-ac4a-33b8b41fb531_story.html
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