Croatia - unpopular judgement

27 April 2011 by David Jan Godfroid

It’s not that the Croats didn’t expect the ICTY to convict Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac. They knew very well that operation Storm in 1995 was a violent military operation, in which Serbian civilians weren’t spared. Justly so, according to most of them, because a couple of years earlier the Serbs had expelled most Croats from the Krajina region.

So, many Croatians silently reckoned on some kind of conviction.

And still there was an outburst of anger in cities, towns and villages in Croatia after judge Alphons Orie finished reading the verdict. Twenty four years in prison for Gotovina, a former French Legionnaire, eighteen years for Markac.

The outrage was not so much caused by the conviction itself. It found its roots in what the generals were sentenced for: participation in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at the ethnic cleansing of Serbs in Croatia. 

For many Croatians, the court’s decision placed their war heroes in the same category as the ultimate enemy, men like Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

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