Saturday, 29 September 2007

Croatia Shocked by Hague Verdict on Vukovar

Croatia Shocked by Hague Verdict on Vukovar

28 09 2007 Zagreb

Croatia has reacted angrily to what it regards as the leniency of the Hague war crimes Tribunal's verdict in the case of three former Yugoslav army officers tried for the mass killing of Croats in Vukovar in 1991.

Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said Zagreb would send a protest to the UN Security Council which established the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, in the 1990s."I want to state that this is a defeat for the Hague Tribunal", Sanader said after the verdicts were delivered Thursday. "I do not even want to comment these verdicts, because they are shameful".

The ICTY's judges acquitted one of the accused, Miroslav Radic, passed a five-year sentence on Veselin Sljivancanin for torture and a 20-year sentence on Mile Mrksic for murder and torture. The accused had been on trial for involvement in the torture and killing of 264 Croat prisoners of war and civilians who had been taken from Vukovar's hospital to a nearby farm at Ovcara after the town was captured by Serb forces in November 1991.

Croatian President Stipe Mesic said the verdicts were unacceptable not only because of their leniency but also because of the judges' inadequate explanations that accompanied them."

These sentences are very disappointing, especially for the familiesof victims", said Vesna Terselic of the Croatian organization, DOCUMENTA, Center for Dealing with Past."

I cannot erase from my memory television pictures showing Sljivancanin in front of the buses which transported prisoners and civilians to the location where they were tortured and later slaughtered. I expect the prosecution will appeal against the verdict", Terselic told Balkan Insight.

Vukovar inhabitants gathered late into the night on Thursday at the Ovcara memorial to light candles in memory of the victims and express their anger at the ICTY's verdict.

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