Author Topic: Croatia and Serbia Cleared of Genocide by Hague Court  (Read 2019 times)

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Offline mayya

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Croatia and Serbia Cleared of Genocide by Hague Court
« on: February 04, 2015, 11:25:41 AM »
Croatia and Serbia Cleared of Genocide by Hague Court


Croatia and Serbia Absolved of Genocide

The president of the International Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that Serbia and Croatia did not commit genocide against each other during the breakup of Yugoslavia.

 Video by Reuters on Publish DateFebruary 3, 2015. Photo by Robin Van Lonkhuijsen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.


PARIS — The highest court of the United Nations ruled on Tuesday that neither Croatia nor Serbia committed genocide against each other’s peoples when they waged war during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

The two separate rulings were the result of civil lawsuits that both countries had filed at the court, the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Each claimed the other had violated the Genocide Convention. Croatia, moreover, demanded extensive reparations for war damages.
Peter Tomka, the presiding judge from Slovakia who read out the verdicts, spoke of the killings of civilians and the widespread destruction committed by the forces from both sides. But he said the large-scale operations to displace people in the two countries did not meet the criteria for genocide.

“Genocide requires the intent to destroy a group,” he said, “not to inflict damage on it or to remove the population.”

The rulings did not come as a surprise, and even during the drawn-out proceedings, lawyers from the opposing teams said privately they had little expectation of winning.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, a specially created tribunal that has spent almost two decades trying criminal cases related to the violence of the 1990s, has not convicted anyone for genocide in Serbia or Croatia, only in Bosnia.

The findings by the International Court of Justice a civil court that settles disputes between nations and deals largely with treaty violations, leaned heavily on the special tribunal's findings.
Officials from both countries who attended the solemn session in the crowded great hall of the Peace Palace in The Hague put on a good face after the almost two-hour reading, which was broadcast on the United Nations website.

Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic of Croatia told reporters that she hoped the ruling would help close “this chapter of history and to move on to a better and safer period for people in this part of Europe.”

Justice Minister Nikola Selakovic of Serbia told reporters that “I’m convinced we will start a new page for a future that is much brighter and better.”

Serbia has long been trying to work on an out-of-court settlement rather than continue the costly legal proceedings. Some political leaders in Croatia have said privately they agreed, but they could not be seen dropping the genocide case for fear of ridicule as weaklings and traitors by the opposition.

The unusual case – only once has a nation sued another for genocide, when Bosnia sued Serbia – dates to 1999, when Croatia filed its case against Serbia.

Croatia contended genocide was committed in Vukovar and other towns in the Krajina region, starting in 1991 when Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia but Serbian separatists occupied almost one-third of Croatia. More than 12,000 Croatian civilians were killed during shelling campaigns, thousands were incarcerated in camps and up to 100,000 people fled their homes, the suit said.
Serbia filed a countersuit in 2010 when Croatia would not withdraw its case in The Hague. Serbia said more than 200,000 ethnic Serbs had been forced to flee their homes and ancestral lands when Croatia launched a military campaign in 1995 to retake its territory.

Both governments had said they would accept the verdict, although in both countries resentments still run deep.

A version of this article appears in print on February 4, 2015, on page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: The Hague: Court Rules Out Genocide in War Between Croatia and Serbia. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe