Serbia in genocide denial - Croatia

2014-03-03 18:44
Croatian war veterans gather for a protest at Zagreb's main square. (AFP)

Croatian war veterans gather for a protest at Zagreb's main square. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The Hague - Croatia on Monday said Serbia was "in denial" over genocide allegedly committed in the early 1990s, at the start of a court case that threatens to further sour relations between the Balkan neighbours.

"Many political leaders in Serbia have maintained an attitude of denial" about the alleged genocide, Croatia's representative Vesna Crnic-Grotic told the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ).

"It is to our great regret that this [attitude] persists today," she told the UN's highest court, where the case finally opened on Monday.

"Time and again, new governments have come into power in Serbia who are unwilling to confront the truth about the events that began more than two decades ago," Crnic-Grotic told judges.

"Croatia's only resort to justice appears to be this court," she said.

Croatia in 1999 dragged Serbia to the ICJ on genocide charges relating to the 1991-95 war following the collapse of the former Yugoslavia.

Belgrade, disappointed by the disintegration of Yugoslavia at the time, went on the offensive to defend what it said was a threat to Serbian ethnicity.

Croatia accused Serbia of "ethnic cleansing" which it said was "a form of genocide which resulted in large numbers of Croatian citizens being displaced, killed, tortured or illegally detained, as well as extensive property destruction" in the resulting war.

Some 20 000 people died in the conflict, one of several to shake the Balkans in the 1990s.

Judges on Monday watched a video of the remains of the city of Vukovar after it fell to Serb-backed forces in November 1991, after a harrowing three-month siege during one of the war's darkest episodes.

Serbs dwindled

Zagreb now wants judges to order Belgrade to pay compensation for damage "to persons and properties as well as to the Croatian economy and environment... a sum to be determined by the court".

But Belgrade responded with a countersuit in 2010, saying some 200 000 ethnic Serbs were forced to flee in 1995 when Zagreb launched a military operation to retake its territory.

Following that counter-offensive, called Operation Storm, ethnic Serb numbers in the area dwindled from 12% to four percent.

Belgrade was also outraged in 2012 when Operation Storm's Croatian military commander, Ante Gotovina, was acquitted on appeal by the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

So far the ICJ, which rules in disputes between states, has recognised only one genocide case since opening its doors in 1946.

In 2007 it ruled that genocide took place in 1995, at Srebrenica in neighbouring Bosnia, when almost 8 000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb troops after they overran a UN-protected enclave.

Genocide is the most serious of international crimes but also one of the hardest to prove.

Both Zagreb and Belgrade said previously they would consider withdrawing their cases before the ICJ if certain conditions were met.

A recital

But politicians in both Balkan neighbours in recent weeks said it was too late for an agreement on a withdrawal.

Serbia's representative Sasha Obradovic on Monday dismissed Croatia's claim as nothing new.

"What we heard [today] is a recital of what we heard 10 years ago," he told journalists after the opening day's hearings.

"It's a little sad that we did not hear anything about the destiny of the Serbian people in... Croatia among whom there were also many victims," he said.

"Of course, horrific crimes were committed in Croatia and it should not be forgotten, but those crimes didn't fulfil the legal requirements of the crime of genocide," he said.

Serbia is to present its arguments on 10 March.

Read more on:    international court of justice  |  serbia  |  croatia

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Newlands - 07:33 AM
    Road name: M3 Northbound
    DELAYS between Constantia Main Road and Hospital Bend
  • Wednesday Paarden Eiland - 07:32 AM
    Road name: Marine Drive Inbound
    DELAYS between Broad Road and the N1 Highway Interchange
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9780

BlackBerry 6 Engage your world with BlackBerry 6 OS on the...

From R3049.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is always easier to look out and see what needs changing. Looking in is a lot harder... Today you may need to look at what...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.