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Accused generals plead not guilty at Croatia war crimes trial

[JURIST] Two generals pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that include torturing prisoners of war and destruction of their property during the Croatian War of Independence [Wikipedia backgrounder]. Mirko Norac and Rahim Ademi [case information, PDF; trial documents] had originally been brought before the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website], however their case was transferred [order text; JURIST report] to the court system of Croatia [JURIST news archive] in 2005, where observers hope it will serve as a successful test case for the Croatian judiciary. Reforms in the judicial system would help the country meet its goal of joining the European Union around the year 2010. This is the first case to be transferred from the UN tribunal to Croatian authorities.

Norac pleaded not guilty at the ICTY [JURIST report] after voluntarily surrendering to the tribunal following his indictment [JURIST report] in 2004. The indictments against him and Ademi were consolidated [indictment text] in 2004. Norac was viewed as a hero in Croatia for his role in the country's war to break away from Yugoslavia, but is currently serving a 12-year sentence over the 1991 deaths of 50 Serbian civilians. Reuters has more.

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