UN court rejects Balkans genocide claim

by admin on April 29th, 2019

filed under 苏州半永久

The UN’s highest court has rejected rival claims of genocide by former foes Croatia and Serbia in landmark rulings over the bloody Balkans wars of the 1990s.


International Court of Justice chief judge Peter Tomka dismissed Zagreb’s claim that Serb forces committed genocide during Croatia’s war of independence.

He made a similar ruling in a counter-claim by Belgrade over a Croatian counter-offensive that forced 200,000 Serbs to flee after the last major battle of the 1991-1995 war.

The case had been described by Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic as perhaps one of the “most important events” determining his country’s relations with Croatia.

Zagreb dragged Belgrade before the ICJ in 1999 on genocide charges linked to the war in Croatia during the bloody break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

Serbia was accused of ethnic cleansing as a “form of genocide” in the town of Vukovar and other areas, leading to large numbers of Croats being displaced, killed or tortured and their property destroyed.

About 20,000 people died in the conflict, one of several bloody wars that shook the Balkans in the 1990s.

Vukovar was captured after a three-month-long attack by the Yugoslav army and Serb rebels.

After its fall, about 22,000 non-Serbs were expelled, and about 350 people from the Vukovar region are still reported missing.

Zagreb had wanted the ICJ judges to order Belgrade to pay compensation.

Belgrade responded with a counter-suit in 2010, saying about 200,000 ethnic Serbs were forced to flee when Croatia launched a military operation to retake its territory in 1995.

Following Zagreb’s counter-offensive, called Operation Storm, the proportion of ethnic Serbs in Croatia shrank from 12 per cent to four per cent.

Belgrade was outraged in 2012 when Operation Storm’s Croatian military commander, Ante Gotovina, was acquitted on appeal before the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

“The irony is that Croatia … which with its forceful separatism, triggered an avalanche of the horrid civil war in the former Yugoslavia, is accusing someone else of genocide,” Serbia said in a statement as the case was being heard last year.

The decisions in the current case, which was heard in March last year, were reached by a 17-judge bench.

Both Belgrade and Zagreb had said ahead of the verdict that they would accept the ruling.

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