News 26 Nov 12

Belgrade Protest Over Croatian Generals Acquittal

Under the auspices of the government, a protest march was held in Belgrade on Sunday against the acquittal of two Croatian generals by the Hague Tribunal.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade
Photo by Beta

The protesters submitted a petition demanding a special parliamentary session to discuss the acquittal of the Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac.

On November 16, the Hague Tribunal, ICTY, quashed the 2011 first-instance verdict that jailed Gotovina and Markac, for 24 and 18 years, respectively, for crimes against Serb civilians committed during the Croatian military operation "Oluja" ["Storm"] in the summer of 1995.

The protest on Sunday was led by the top government officials, including the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Serbian parliament, and a number of ministers.

Speaking in front of Belgrade’s Cathedral Church where memorial service was held, the Serbian PM, Ivica Dacic, said that the ICTY acquittal is “a slap in the face” to Serbia and it represents the ICTY’s “suicide in the eyes of Serbs.”

“With this verdict the reconciliation process has been seriously endangered, given that the basis for reconciliation is that everybody faces war crimes, “Dacic said.

He added that despite the fact that the ICTY acquitted the men responsible for “the biggest war crime after the Second World War”, Serbia would continue to cooperate with the Tribunal.

The leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch Irinej, accused the Hague Tribunal of "covering up crimes against Serbs."

"We ask the unfair judges: who is guilty?" the patriarch said during the memorial service.

Thousands of people walked from Belgrade’s Cathedral Church to the parliament, where they handed over the petition.

People were carrying banners reading “We ask justice for all the victims” and “The Hague Tribunal -Legalisation of the ethnic cleansing against Serbs”.

Also on Sunday, the Serbian war crimes prosecution said it had officially asked the ICTY to hand over all the evidence collected during the trial of the two Croatian generals.

 

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