Acquittal of Croatian generals brings into question ICTY's impartiality
MOSCOW, November 19 - RAPSI. Moscow questions the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia's (ICTY) acquittal of Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, reads the comment published by the Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Department on Saturday.
"The ruling handed down brings into question the ICTY's supposed impartiality. Unfortunately, we have to conclude that the tribunal failed to be a truly impartial body of international justice with an equal attitude to all parties in the Yugoslavian conflict," the Foreign Ministry's comment reads.
The fact that two of the five ICTY judges refused to uphold the ruling served as a further reason to doubt the judgment.
"Russia firmly reasserts its opinion that the ICTY must wind up its duties within the period established by the UN Security Council's resolution of 1966," the comment reads.
The ICTY sentenced Gotovina and Markac to 24 and 18 years in prison, respectively, on April 15, 2011 for crimes committed during Operation Storm in 1995. The tribunal also acquitted Ivan Cermak, a defendant in the case. The defense appealed the verdict and on Friday the ICTY appeals chamber overturned Gotovina and Markacs convictions.
The large-scale military operation ended the conflict in Croatia. It began on August 4, 1995, and ended with the defeat of the Republic of the Serbian Krajina, a self-proclaimed Serbian entity that existed in Croatia in 1991-1995. According to Serbian experts, over 2,000 Serbs - half of whom were civilians - died or went missing in the operation. Over 250,000 became refugees.
The armed conflict began after Croatia declared independence on June 25, 1991. During the conflict, local forces fought the Yugoslav People's Army and Serbian factions supported by the Belgrade authorities. The war saw ethnic cleansing on both sides and claimed the lives of over 20,000 of Croatia's 4.7 million population. The country's territorial integrity was only restored in 1998.