News 14 Dec 12

EU Urges Croatia to Prosecute War Crimes

The Croatian local courts need to prosecute those responsible for war crimes that took place in Croatia, EU official says.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

According to the Head of EU Delegation to Serbia, Vincent Degert, local courts in Croatia need to prosecute those responsible for war crimes committed during the Croatian military operation Storm in 1995.

"It is very clear to us [the European Union] that war crimes took place in Croatia and it is also clear that something has to be done about that and this now needs to be done by the Croatian courts,“ Deget said speaking at a round table about reconciliation, held in Belgrade on Thursday.

"Despite the fact that we are not happy with some verdicts, we can not give up on international law...It is important especially for the victims to give our support both to the international and domestic courts,“ he added.

His counterpart from the Embassy of Switzerland, Jean-Daniel Ruch,said that the Hague Tribunal's aim was not to bring about the reconciliation, but to help it.

“There are no exact data, but it is estimated that around 100,000 people were killed during the war and there is also a number of people who were inhumanely treated and simply the justice before courts could not be reached for all," Ambassador Ruch said.

He stressed that the countries of the region need to urgently resolve the fate of missing persons.

Zoran Pajic, a professor of international law,  said that for the victims the most important aspect of the justice is reached before the courts.

 “Victims need facts so that they can stop searching for the truth and living in the past and turn to the future,” Pajic said.

In November, the Hague Tribunal acquitted two Croatian Generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, accused for war crimes committed during Operation Storm.

Following the acquittal, both Croatia's President and Prime Minister have emphasised since Gotovina and Markac were acquitted that Croatia still has an obligation to prosecute all war crimes.

Croatia has prosecuted 27 war crimes perpetrated during and after Operation Storm in 1995, but none has yet ended in a verdict.

The Croatian judiciary has so far filed 6,390 criminal charges for various kinds of criminal offences perpetrated during and after Operation Storm, including killings, burning of property and robbery.

The Croatian military operation Storm was launched in 1995 in order to recover territory seized by Serbian rebel forces at the start of the war in Croatia, resulting in over 200,000 Serbs fled Croatia immediately after operation.

 

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