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Serbian officials condemn the acquittal of two Croatian generals, accusing the Hague Tribunal of undermining its own credibility.
Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said the acquittal “confirms the claims of those who say that the Hague Tribunal is not a court and its only purpose is to meet a preset political agenda”.
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic also criticized the decision. “If there were reasons to believe those who said that the Hague Tribunal was not biased, and something more than a court for Serbia and the Serbian people, the latest decision to acquit war criminals refutes that,” said Nikolic.
Serbia's Chief Prosecutor for War Crimes, Vladimir Vukcevic, condemned the ICTY verdict that found two Croatian Generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, not guilty of war crimes against Serbs in Croatia in 1995.
“This was one of the most notorious war crimes committed during the conflicts in former Yugoslavia, where thousands of people were killed and expelled, and so far no one was held responsible, ” Vukcevic said.
He questioned how a final verdict could be so different from the first-instance verdict. That found the two generals guilty of the persecution, murder, deportation and other crimes against Serbs during the 1995 Croatian Army Operation, "Oluja" ["Storm"]. It jailed Gotovina and Markac for 24 and 18 years respectively.
Serbia Downgrades Its Cooperation with Hague Tribunal
In protest against the ICTY verdict on Croatian generals, Serbia has decided to downgrade its cooperation with the ICTY to only technical level.
“This will affect relationship among states in the region and for sure it will not bring reconciliation,” Ljajic said, adding that his country will not provide documents requested by the ICTY
The Serbian government also cancelled its participation at the ICTY outreach conference that was scheduled for November 22.
The ICTY soon after announced that the conference has been postponed.
Rasim Ljajic, Chief of the National Council for Cooperation with the ICTY, said that following this verdict the ICTY had lost its credibility.
“This is an example of selective justice, which is worse than injustice,” Ljajic said.
“This decision will for sure affect already the poor perception that Serbian citizens have towards the ICTY,” he added.
The ruling Serbian Progressive Party said it was very disappointed with the verdict.
"The decision showed that the Hague Tribunal, after all, more often makes political rather than legal decisions. We are disappointed by the international institutions’ attitude towards the Serbian people, ignoring the facts and disrespecting the victims of 'Storm', the greatest crime committed in modern Europe since World War Two," the statement by the Progressives said.
Natasa Kandic, from the Humanitarian Law Centre, said the verdict did not bring justice to the victims of Operation Storm, adding that now it will be harder to prosecute those responsible for war crimes before the Croatian courts.
President of Republika Srpska, predominantly Serb entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, see the ICTY verdict to acquit generals as a shameful and unbelievable.
“This is a humiliating decision for all the victims, for all Serbs and after this we cannot be trustworthy to the Hague Tribunal,” said Dodik to the agency Anadolia.