News / Europe

Hague Tribunal Convicts Two Former Croatian Generals

A man reacts as he watches a live broadcast of the verdict from the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague in Zagreb, Croatia, April 15, 2011
A man reacts as he watches a live broadcast of the verdict from the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague in Zagreb, Croatia, April 15, 2011

Two Croatian military leaders have been convicted at The Hague of atrocities against Serbs during a 1995 campaign of ethnic cleansing. Many Croats denounced the verdict.

Judges at the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia sentenced Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac who were found guilty of crimes including murder, persecution and plunder.

Presiding Judge Alphons Orie read out Gotovina’s sentence.

"For having committed these crimes, the chamber sentences you, Mr. Gotovina, to a single sentence of 24 years of imprisonment," said Judge Orie.

Markac was given 18 years and a third defendant, Ivan Cermak, was found not guilty.

The rulings came after a three year trial investigating Operation Storm, a Croatian offensive carried out in 1995 to reclaim the republic of Krajina from Serb control.

The defendants were accused of having failed to prevent their forces from killing hundreds of people and forcing thousands from their home. All three men said they were innocent.

Greg Kehoe, defense lawyer for Gotovina, said the story isn’t over.

"The Gotovina defense put forth a very strong defense that general Gotovina acted in accordance with military law and military tactics and we will take that and we will examine this judgment and we will appeal, we will be successful," said Kehoe. "This decision runs directly counter to the facts presented in the courtroom and the law of this court."

Cries of anger were reportedly heard from the public gallery when the sentence was announced.

Many Croats consider Gotovina and Markac national heroes. Vesna Bojicic-Dzelilovic is a Croatia-expert at the London School of Economics. She explains how many in Croatia view the war.

"For local public it was a just war, it was a homeland war, it was a defense war and Gotovina is perceived as a local hero," said Bojicic-Dzelilovic.

Croatia agreed to cooperate with the UN trial in order to move forward with plans to join the European Union.

But Bojicic-Dzelilovic says Croatian officials thought there was not sufficient evidence to convict the defendants. The heavy sentences, she says, puts Croatian politicians in a tough position.

What’s more, the judges ruled that Croatia’s political leadership, including the late president, were also guilty by association.  

Bojicic-Dzelilovic says that judgment is critical.

"What is the most sensitive aspect of the verdict is this joint criminal enterprise point, implying that it was not just Gotovina himself, but what happened during the Operation Storm happened in collusion and in a way in collaboration with the highest ranks of Croatia's political and military leadership," she said.

Croatia’s prime minister said Friday the government would take all possible legal steps to annul those findings on appeal.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid