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UN's highest court absolves Croatia, Serbia of genocide

Tuesday, February 03, 2015 - 01:35

The United Nation's top court rules neither Croatia nor Serbia had committed genocide against each other's populations during the violent breakup of Yugoslavia. Rough Cut (No reporter narration)

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ROUGH CUT (No reporter narration) The United Nations' highest court on Tuesday (February 3) ruled that neither Croatia nor Serbia committed genocide against each other's populations during the Balkan wars that followed the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Peter Tomka, president of the International Court of Justice, said many crimes had been committed by both countries' forces during the conflict, but that the intent to commit genocide -- by "destroying a population in whole or in part" -- had not been proven against either country. "In view of the fact that dolus specialis [special intent] has not been established by Croatia, its claims of conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and attempt to commit genocide also necessarily fail. Accordingly, Croatia's claim must be dismissed in its entirety," Tomka said of Serbia's campaign to destroy towns and expel civilians in Slavonia and Dalmatia. Rejecting Serbia's counterclaim, he said Croatia had not committed genocide when it sought to drive ethnic Serb rebels from the province of Krajina, and put hundreds of thousands of civilians to flight. "The court concludes from the foregoing, that the existence of dolus specialis has not been established. Accordingly the court finds that it has not been proved that genocide was committed during and after the operation 'Storm' against the Serb population of Croatia," Tomka told the court. Although disappointed, the court had rejected the claim of genocide, both sides said they were satisfied the court had recognised the atrocities committed during the war. "Of course I am not satisfied with the court's decision to reject our claim, but within this there are so many elements that confirm that crimes that were committed on Croatian territory were committed by JNA, by Serbian forces, but they were all directed and organised by Serbia itself and by their leadership at the time, and it was established. It was done in order to create greater Serbia, in order to in a way clean, ethnically clean, these areas and this is something that for us is important, because we know that it has happened and now it was affirmed by this court," said Croatian Minister of Justice Orsat Miljenic. Serbian Minister of Justice Nikola Selakovic said the fact the court had rejected Croatia's claim of genocide meant Serbia had won the case. "We can conclude that, deciding about their claim - we won, because there hasn't been a genocide made by Serbia or Federal Republic of Yugoslavia against Croatia and its citizens. Of course, they decide the same according to our counter claim," Selakovic said. The cases were part of the long legal fall-out from the break-up of Yugoslavia into seven states in wars that lasted for much of the 1990s and left more than 130,000 dead in Europe's worst conflagration since World War II. Croatia, which joined the European Union in 2013, filed its case against Belgrade in 1999 and Serbia - a candidate for EU membership - its counter-case against Zagreb only in 2010. The panel of judges rejected Croatia's claim by fifteen votes to two. Serbia's counterclaim was rejected unanimously, implying that even Serbia's delegated judge had ruled against. The U.N. tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which also sits in The Hague, has long since ruled that genocide was committed in Bosnia, where more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when the U.N. 'safe haven' of Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces in 1995. In an earlier ruling from 2007 in a case brought by Bosnia, the ICJ found that Serbia was not responsible for genocide, but that it had breached the genocide convention by failing to prevent the massacre in Srebrenica.

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UN's highest court absolves Croatia, Serbia of genocide

Tuesday, February 03, 2015 - 01:35