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Former Croat generals to face Hague war crimes trial in May

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST news archive] announced Wednesday that three former Croatian generals will begin their war crimes trial at The Hague in May. Ante Gotovina [BBC profile], Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac have all pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to crimes against humanity and war crimes [indictment, PDF] in connection with the killing of Croatian Serb civilians during the Balkan wars in the 1990s, including failing to prevent the murder of 150 people in Krajina during the 1995 Operation Storm offensive [Wikipedia backgrounder] which forced some 90,000 other Serbs from their homes. In September, the government of Croatia asked the ICTY for friend-of-the-court status [JURIST report] to refute the indictments' "unacceptable allegations" about the military's activities in Operation Storm.

Gotovina's defense lawyer Gregory Kehoe had said he would not be prepared for trial until at least September, but ICTY judge Bakone Moloto disregarded Kehoe's objections, citing an obligation to bring a "fair and expeditious" trial. Opening statements are scheduled to begin on May 7, and prosecutors expect the trial to last up to a year. AP has more.

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