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Serbia asks UN tribunal to hand over evidence against freed Croatian generals

The Serbian Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor [official website] sent a letter [press release, PDF] to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Monday requesting materials and evidence from the case files of two Croatian generals, whose convictions were overturned [JURIST report] by the ICTY last week. The 3-2 decision to overturn the convictions has sparked outrage [AP report] in Serbia where many view the tribunal as biased since Serbs comprise the majority of those convicted under the tribunal. While Serbia seeks the case file materials in order to consider bringing charges against the generals in Serbia, a retrial in Serbia or The Hague is unlikely absent compelling new evidence.

The two generals, Ante Gotovina [BBC backgrounder] and Mladen Markac [Trial Watch backgrounder], were initially found guilty [JURIST report] of crimes against humanity and war crimes for involvement in Operation Storm [BBC backgrounder] during the Croatian war for independence. However, the five-judge appeals chamber ordered the immediate release [ICTY press release] of the two generals after finding that the trial judge committed numerous errors and that the prosecutors failed to prove the existence of a criminal conspiracy. Croatia has welcomed the decision as validation of their claim that they were the victims in the Balkan wars and Gotovina and Markac are considered heroes in Croatia. However, the decision has jeopardized the dialogue between Croatian President Ivo Josipovic and Serbian nationalist President Tomislav Nikolic [official websites] as the two sides seek to reconcile.

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