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Croatia accuses Serbia of genocide before international court

Croatia said Monday at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] that acts of violence committed by Serbia in the 1990s constituted genocide [application, PDF] under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide [text]. The Convention was breached, Croatia argues [AP report], when forces from the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia tried to drive Croats out of parts of the country after Zagreb's 1991 declaration of independence. Serbs occupied the city of Vukovar [BBC report] during a 1991-95 war that left the city devastated, and several hundred Vukovar citizens were murdered by the Yugoslav army and Serb maramilitaries in 1991. Croatia would also like the court to order Serbia to pay compensation. In response to the charges, Serbian representative Sasa Obradovic called the crimes that were committed in the 1990s "horrific," but said that they did not constitute genocide. Serbia has filed a counter claim over the 1995 expulsion of 230,000 Serbs from Croatia.

Investigations of war crimes related to the Bosnian-Serbian conflict are still ongoing and suspects are still being arrested and prosecuted. In January the appeals chamber for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] upheld [JURIST report] the criminal convictions of four Serbian senior officials stemming from the Bosnian Civil War [JURIST news archive]. Last September the ICTY allowed Momcilo Krajisnik [JURIST news archive], the former speaker for the Bosnian Serb parliament, to return to Bosnia after being released from prison [JURIST report]. In August Danish judge Frederik Harhoff was removed [JURIST report] from the ICTY over claims of bias in a letter he wrote criticizing the court. The ICTY was created [text, PDF] in 1993 by UN Resolution 827 to adjudicate the alleged war crimes perpetrated in the region of the former Yugoslavia since 1991. The ICTY's term of prosecution has been extended until December 2014. Since its inception, the ICTY has convicted numerous war criminals for atrocities committed in the widespread violence of the Balkan region. The tribunal has been working through an immense caseload for the past 20 years and has recently delegated much of the war crime adjudication to the courts of individual Balkan nations.

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