News 17 Jan 13

Serbia Asks Hague to Re-Examine Gotovina Acquittal

Belgrade says the Hague Tribunal will examine whether it can re-open the case against two Croatian generals acquitted of war crimes.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

Serbia’s justice minister Nikola Selakovic said during a visit to The Hague on Thursday that Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, has told him that there was a possibility that the case could be re-opened.

“During the meeting with Brammertz, we received assurances that the ICTY prosecution will try according to their judiciary to try to make condition for the process to be revised,” Selakovic said.

Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac were acquitted in November of war crimes committed during the Croatian military operation codenamed ‘Oluja’ [‘Storm’] in 1995, overturning a previous guilty verdict from the ICTY.

The verdict sparked anger in Serbia, but in Croatia the wartime generals were welcomed home as heroes after being freed.

Selakovic was the first Serbian justice minister to visit the ICTY and used the occasion to accuse the court of being biased.

He told the Tribunal’s president, Theordor Meron, that “all Serbian victims were left without justice, because no one has been convicted before the ICTY for the war crimes committed against them”.

“No one has been held responsible for the 1,700 killed during Operation Storm and for more than 200,000 people who fled from Krajina [in Croatia] to Serbia and [Bosnian Serb entity] Republika Srpska,” Selakovic also told journalists after the meetings.

He added that Belgrade will refile its request to the ICTY for Serbia's Hague convicts to serve their prison sentences in their own country’s jails.

According to ICTY rules, those convicted cannot serve sentences in the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

On Friday, Selakovic is to visit some of the ICTY’s war crimes detainees including the former leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic and their wartime commander, Ratko Mladic.

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