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ICTY finds Croatia military leaders guilty of war crimes

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Friday found former Croatian Colonel General Ante Gotovina [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] guilty [judgment summary, PDF; materials] of several counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes for his involvement in the 1995 Operation Storm [BBC backgrounder]. Gotovina, along with former military leaders Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac, had been on trial since 2008 [JURIST report]. The men were charged as participants in "a joint criminal enterprise" aimed at the permanent removal of 200,000 Serbs from the Krajina region of Croatia. Gotovina was found guilty of eight counts including murder, plunder, persecution and deportation and sentenced to 24 years in prison. Markac was found guilty of the same offenses and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Cermak was acquitted on all counts. The judgment brought about mixed reactions. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] applauded the judgment [statement] as "the first step to truth and justice for many victims of crimes committed during 'Operation Storm.'" Croatian authorities denounced the judgment [Telegraph report] and stated that they would "do everything in [their] power to change it."

The ICTY continues to hear cases regarding former military leaders in the region and accusations of war crimes committed during the 1990s. Proceedings against former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [case materials; JURIST news archive] resumed this week [Guardian report] after multiple suspensions [JURIST reports]. Karadzic faces 11 war crimes charges, including counts of genocide and murder, for alleged crimes he committed during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Last month, UN prosecutors demanded that ex-Yugoslav army chief Momcilo Perisic [ICTY profile, PDF; JURIST news archive] receive a life sentence [JURIST report] for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Bosnian Muslims in the early 1990s. Perisic's trial began in October 2008 [JURIST report], and closing arguments concluded at the end of March.

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