Croatian generals convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity
People watch former Gen. Ante Gotovina's verdict on live TV Friday in the central square of Zagreb, Croatia.
April 15th, 2011
10:07 AM ET

Croatian generals convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity

The International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia announced Friday that it had convicted two Croatian generals of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ante Gotovina, who commanded Croatia's Split military district during the mid-1990s war that led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

Mladen Markac, who headed the Interior Ministry's Special Police, received an 18-year prison term.

A third general, Ivan Cermak, was acquitted of all charges and ordered released as soon as possible.

Gotovina and Markac participated in an ethnic cleansing operation in Croatia's Krajina region between July and September 1995, the court found. Under the leadership of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, the generals and others attempted to clear the Krajina of ethnic Serbs and repopulate it with Croats, the court said.

Tudjman, who died in 1999, never was officially charged with any crime.

The trial in The Hague, Netherlands, started in March 2008 and involved 145 witnesses and 4,819 evidence exhibits, the court said.

The verdict was greeted by boos and hisses from crowds gathered in the central square of Croatia's capital, Zagreb, the BBC reported. The generals are regarded by some as national heroes.

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Croatia • Human rights • Justice • Military • Netherlands
soundoff (486 Responses)
  1. Croat

    This is a disgrace! A very dangerous precedent which the world hasn't seen yet! Has anyone ever convicted american generals who fought in Vietnam??? This is like saying that our entire country was build on a war crime...

    April 15, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      What I find upsetting is that back on Feb.13,1991 two American pilots flew over Baghdad and dropped a huge bomb on the Amriya air raid shelter,blew it up,killing more than 414 civilians therein. Yet today,no one has ever been held accountable for this atrocity and that's quite repulsive to say the least!!!

      April 15, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      @serb "so you think your country now is clear from everything??? HAHAHA I WISH Karadzic and the rest GO REST IN LIFE IN PRISON! Serbs committed worse and humanity in the war! Croats defended there country not like Serbs wanted to make "GREATER SERBIA!"

      April 15, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Very well put,Daniel. I well remember the man who lost his entire family in that horrific raid and how he wailed over it the next day. That I will never forget. I wonder how one of these self-righteous Americans would feel if the same thing happened to theirs!!!

      April 15, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      You Croats exterminated almost all the Serbs from Croatia and repopulated the region with Croats. You just continued the ETHNIC CLEANSING job you started in Jasenovac in 1941 with the organized help of Alojzije Stepinac network of catholic priests, which was blessed by the pope who made him a Saint!!! But, this time, in 1991, you've got help from the US military in addition to the traditional help from Germany in finishing the ETHNIC CLEANSING of Serbs from Croatia, bringing the percentage of the Serbs living in Croatia from solid double digits, to low single digits. Good job. Shame on you.

      April 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tonka

      I cannot believe this! You people make me sick. Where do you live? I live in Croatia! My father had to carry me, while trying to escape his former best friend from high school, who was carrying s shotgun and shooting at us! THEY (the Serbs) were killing innocent civilians. THEY were raping innocent teenage girls! We didn't have any weapons to defend ourselves. Operation Storm got our country back. Do not comment if you weren't there. You have no idea what they did. When Croats came back, they saw what the Serbians did. And of course they got revenge. That was unacceptable, true. But you can't blame the general for what later civilians did. That's just my opinion.
      I'm very sorry if you, Americans, think what happened was unfair.

      April 15, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miro Croat

      Poor Serbs that Croatian Army lead by Gotovina were bombing my home town Zadar for 4 years. I don't know what some of you are talking about when you say ethic cleansing. Of course they had to run away, they were guilty of war crimes and they were afraid of retaliation in the same way a criminal runs when he sees police.

      If you don't know the facts, then please STOP pretending you know everything just because you have a Serbian friend who is telling you lies his country told him.
      Yes, war crimes were committed, and they should be persecuted, but they should catch the indivituals who did them not the generals who saved us from Serbian knife.

      Google up VUKOVAR and ŠKABRNJA, check out what Serbs did to Croatian people and then ask yourself two questions: who went to Haag for that and how many years did they get and is that really comparable to 33 civilians killed in Oluja?

      April 15, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • @Tonka

      Croatia was an ally to Nazi Germany, because Croat nation had the same ideology as Nazis. Croatia has biggest number of white supremist in Europe today, they openly display love towards Nazi party, symbols, songs, ideology...While Serbs fought on our side in WW2, and in WW1. Bloody right time to convict all those Croat Nazis.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Right. Bringing the percentage of the Serbs living in Croatia from solid double digits, to low single digits is called ethnic cleansing, or in other words: genocide. Extermination of almost all the Serbs from Croatia and repopulating the region with Croats is just continued ethnic cleansing job you started in Jasenovac in 1941 with the organized help of Aloysius Stepinac. But, this time, in 1991, you've got help from the ?? military in addition to the traditional help from Germany in finishing the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs from Croatia. Shame on you.

      April 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • AchilesIJS

      Yes, it is like saying that your entire country was built on a crime – because it was, and until you take collective responsibility, the shadow of these atrocities will hang heavily over Croatia. I am not a Serb or a Croat, but your country has to take responsibility for its part in the events during the breakup of former Yugoslavia. When the Hague was convicting Serb generals, you praised the Chamber's impartiality. Now, you question it and brand it a disgrace. Seriously? It is clear from all the evidence submitted that there was indeed a criminal enterprise at work in Croatia. The sad part is that these two war criminals will actually be released after their sentences are up. The Court should not have been that generous. Also, don't try to compare this to Vietnam. The situation is entirely different and drawing parallels is a logical fallacy.

      April 15, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      To Croat: That's exactly the point. Croatia WAS built on a war crime and that's not a secret. The first Croatia, the Nazi one (from 1941-1945) had blessing from Hitler and this is the most blood-thirsty country ever, that managed to slaughter every living Jew and 70% of Serbs who lived in it: for a total of approximately one million people in only four years.

      People responsible for that were never prosecuted. Strangely enough, instead of condemning those atrocities the second Croatia's officials (who were involved in the creation of the first one) pronounced the April 10 (the day Hitler granted "independence" to Croatia, thus granting Croats right to start their genocide against Jews) a national holiday!

      Let's not forget that this modern Croatia repeated similar genocide on Aug. 5, 1995 this time against the Serbs, when they deported over half a million Serbs in a matter of days. And of course, the Government condoned this act by again, making this darkest day – a holiday.

      To compare Mr. Gotovina with American Generals who fought in Vietnam is pure ignorance and I won't comment on that. However, what I can tell you my friend is that Croats need to understand that they're not above the law and that justice will always prevail as there is no excuse for the crime no matter what the motives are. To build a country by means of torture, genocide and deportation of your fellow innocent neighbors is something that everyone should condemn and you should be the first one to do so.

      April 15, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • jose

      face it. croatia has been built based on war crimes. and dont compare what happended in vukovar with krajna. Im not defending serbs for what they did in vukovar, but you are blaming the whole serbian population there, The krajna serbs dis nothing in vukovar and you know very well. they were living in their houses and villages for centuries. and you perfom an etnic cleansing plan to expell off of them. its a clear war crime, and its clear that croatia as a whole is guilty, this 2 generals are the scapegoat for what happened there. they should have convicted Croatia as a nation built on a war crimes comitted against 250000 civilians. there were not jna army whatsoever in krajna in 1995.

      April 16, 2011 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
    • rdger

      My boyfriend thinks the same with me. He is 12 years older than me, lol. We met online at A'geM'ing'le. com The premiere online community for older women seek younger men or older men seek younger women to meet and share your interests. Ever feel that you would best enjoy someone who is not in your age group? Leave behind the other general dating sites out there and try us.

      April 16, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • michaelfury

      When will the ICC get around to this man?

      April 16, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ivan

    They are innocent not guilty the serbs were the side that planned and implemented a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and a dream of Greater serbia. The media and europe is trying to equate the blame among all parties. This is disappointing they should all be innocent.

    April 15, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Story said, that took Croats only 7 days to take over the entire teritorry that Serbs held for 4 years.....Hmm. 7 days? I have military experience and if you ask me, you can't take over teritorry the half size of your Country in 7 days, unless you are to sistematicly wipe everyone in front of you. In Blitzkrieg ther's no survivors....just ask Hitler..or Gotovina.

      April 15, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      @jake. understand history and facts! HINT* they came in our territory and Croats shouldn't then defend themselves? I believe people here are all washed up with SERBIAN PROPAGANDA!

      April 15, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Brain32

      Yeah it's a disgrace the trial is a disgrace for the international law.
      ICTY proved that it is a political court, not a court of justice.
      If West think's of us like this I think it's time we look for friends somewhere else...goodbye and good riddance.

      April 15, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ladymoria

    our generals are heroes because Croatians were victims in that war. Serbians attacked us because they wanted to create Great Serbia and now they say that we were criminals. just look at city Vukovar and what serbian army did to that city. it is so unbeliavable that the people who defended their country are now labeled as criminals. this will not stop here....

    April 15, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Svasta

      The same stupid story. You are defending yourself by killing and drivens old people, women and childs. More than 200.000. Poor you

      April 15, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Sveti Sava

      As of today, your generals are officially – before the Court, God and the civilized humankind – the convicted war criminals and mass-murderers. The sooner you accept the truth, the better for you, for Croatia, for Croatian people and for everyone in the region.

      Rejoice the TRUTH. Nothing else shall set you free.

      April 15, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • ladymoria

      hahahahaha sveti sava, even if your nickname was luis miguel i would now you were srbin and you wanna now how?
      you lost the war you started with such a powerful army and you lost from such a small country as Croatia and now you wanna tell the world that we were the agressors. ahahaha a sad sava da mi malo našim hrvatskim jezikom pričamo, stvarno ste smiješni, ni jedan rat u svojoj povijesti koji ste započeli niste osvojili i iz toga sva vaša jal i zavist proizlazi. a i ti i ja znamo ko je započeja rat, na čijem teritoriju se rat odvija i ko je krenija sa etničkim čišćenjem. imate sve dokaze i opet po svom tučete.... a to je bit će zato što ste uvik po tuđem tukli i svaki put izgubili..... hahaha vi srbi ste stvarno čudan narod.... mora da je tako jer su vam svima turci pradidovi....

      April 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • American

      Judge Orie was a defense lawyer to Serbian War Criminal Dusko Tadic.

      Judge Orie is the one who came down on General Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac. This is a conflict of interest. So as ppl say this is a conviction under god and law, it is an act of politics and biases.

      Thank you for your post.

      April 17, 2011 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. Sanja

    They are our heroes who defended our country and gave us freedom. Ante Ante svi smo za te svi smo za te i uvjek cemo biti...

    April 15, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. rebecca

    American living in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Croatia has been wrongly accused and let it be known that this is a disgrace. General Ante is being used as a sacrificial lamb. Croatia was one of the first countries to abolish slavery . . . acts against humanity?, I think not!!! Why are there no mention of all the children, mothers and fathers that were killed throughout serbia's rampage of ethnic cleansing. This is not okay.

    April 15, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Jelena, UK

      Dear Rebecca,
      maybe you should read a little and educate yourself a bit, before commenting on the things you so clearly have no knowledge of? Croatia didn't exist as a country (well, in the last thousand years or so) untill after the WW1 (when it became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes – courtesy of Serbia), so I would really like to know how could they have abolished slavery in any way – let alone how could they have been 'first' at it?

      April 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tuzna

      @Jelena: you need to read up on your history, because it is incorrect.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      Rebecca, because you're obviously clueless, I'll just tell you one thing:

      Germans have good memory, but Jews remember even more..

      This is a great day for both World Justice and World Peace!

      April 15, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • American


      Krajina and Operation Storm had nothing to do with Jewish people. If you are Jewish, you should read the facts of the Croatian War for Independence. Serbians were aggressors to the Croatian people.

      My mother as a child remembers Serbians coming to her home, beating up my grandmother looking for the only livestock they had (which my family had to hid in the woods so they wouldnt suffer from starvation). If you know what it feels like to be oppressed, have everything taken away from you than I sympathize with you. After operation storm there were atrocities committed by the oppressed Croatian civilians seeking revenge. This was an unfair action taken on Serbians who would have liked to live in peace with Croatians side by side.

      There is more to this story than the numbers of 200,000 refugees. The whole country of Croatia was a refugee camp. Please watch this video to see what was done on Croatian soil by Serbian aggressors:

      If after this video you still think Croatians were wrong for feeling opressed and angry at the serbians for

      Thank you for your post.

      April 17, 2011 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. like

    As much as you wanted to vindicate your general it's just shows that both sides are guilty of same crimes

    April 15, 2011 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • rebecca

      you weren't there, so make sure you study up and learn some facts before you "like" something!

      April 15, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sanja

    "Gotovina and Markac participated in an ethnic cleansing operation in Croatia's Krajina region between July and September 1995, the court found" IT WASN'T ETHNIC CLEANSINING

    April 15, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Goran

      How you call it Sanja,when somebody take 250 000 people from their homes and tell them you must go and never come back,those people live in that part of Yugoslavia for generations.Than Ante said it now be Croatia and there must live only Croats.

      April 15, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Ivan


      The difference between serbs and Croats is this: we evacuated people from krajina, the serbs wouldve killed everyone like in Vukovar, Srebrenica

      April 16, 2011 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
    • One amongst many

      I would liken this string of comments to bullying in a playground. Credibility is weak when you present yourself as that annoying little brat that continuously taunts and knocks down other children. Then there are the victims that cry 'this is unfair!' Who told you that life is fair? We all fight for what we deem as important in our lives. So if you find yourself being bullied, suck it up! And to all of those bullies out there, don't be surprised when your victim strikes back.

      Then there are some who erroneously believe that with his/her pseudo-intellect, he/she can characterize humanity by generalizing a national character, a history, a culture, and so on. We all must share the same air. Again, proof that life is not fair, but that doesn't mean I'll stop standing up for my beliefs. Libertas.

      April 16, 2011 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
    • P!nK

      Hej...necu glumit nikakvog engleza jer ja to nisam..zivim u HRVATSKOJ i poosim se time..! Ovo sto se desava nije normalnoo... Hrvatska ima vise od 4.5 milijuna stanovnika... A sad zamislite te ljude,branitelje, po trgovima kako placuu i mole se za pravdu... Koja nikad nece biti pravedna..24 godine je usitinu previse,jer ON TO NIJE ZASLUZIO. Hrvatska nije napala Srbiju vec Srbija NAS! A u ovom ratu mi smo is Bog pomoci i da ce istina dodi na svoje. SRAMOTA Haaga je sto nisu uzeli ni jedan obranin dokaz u obzir usitinu SRAMOTA¨! CIJELA HRVATSKA BRANI ANTU NE SAMO ONI ODVJETNICII...CIJELAA HRVATSKA JER JE ANTE BRANIO NAS! <3

      April 16, 2011 at 3:10 am | Report abuse |
    • jose

      off course it was etnic cleansing, a clear one, open passages and roads for them to leave, broadcasting free passages to tell them, either you go or you will be killed. They (the serbs) were there for centuries. at least the survivals of your slaugter 60 years ago (about one million carried out by croats). there were not an invasion of crajna, its a big lie built by croats, they were in their houses . you spelt 250000 people from their houses just to be a 100 % land free of serbs and pure croats, that´s in a plain english.. etnic cleansing regarless you like it or not

      April 16, 2011 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Domoljub 24

      Nasi generali su razlog zasto smo svi mi Hrvati danas ovdje, a nasa vlast ih pusta da trunuu Haagu... Ajmo svi na prosvjede, ovo je neprihvatljivo!!!
      A sto se tice etnickog ciscenja, jedina stvar za koju ja zalim je da nisu pobili sve Srbe. Jer se te gamadi jedino mozes rijesiti deratizacijom.

      April 16, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Jelena, UK

      I would like to translate the post above – for all those who don't understand Croatian language. Gives a frighteningly clear picture of the person who wrote it – and all the other Croatian 'patriots' and supporters of convicted criminals...

      "Domoljub 24"
      "Our generals are reason for all of us being here today, while our government lets them rot in Haag...Let us all go to demonstrations, this is unacceptable!!!
      As for the ethnic cleansing, the only regret I have is – why haven't they killed all Serbs. Those are vermin you can only get rid of by deratisation.

      April 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Netherland

    Croatian war president is also guilty by the Court. Justice is done, now Croatia should be banned from EU joining, united state crimes against humanity are enough reason for me ...

    April 15, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Marko

      Get your facts straight. This conviction is like someone convicted Jews because of the holocaust.
      All I can see is that someone in the UK and Netherlands has a huge problem with Croatia being an independent country.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ponosan Hrvat


      April 16, 2011 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
    • markishere

      Go back to smoking pot, dummy

      May 19, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Netherland

    Serbian generals are liberated by the was, thats showing how huge was Croatian agression against Serbian nation.... News are saying that Croatia will be guilty for genocide by International Crime tribunal

    April 15, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • ladymoria

      oh my netherland, stop using that legalized marijuana, it obviously messed up your mind.... or maybe you are srbin?

      April 15, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ivan

    Fair verdict and a chance for the region to move away from its past. According to the tribunal chamber there was a joint criminal enterprise and abuse of political power in order to ethnically cleans the Croatian territory of Serbs. I find this well grounded considering that 250.000 Serbs were made refugees during that action. Since I followed the trial closely I can say that there were clear evidences presented that this was planed and executed by two convicted generals late president Tudjman and other people.
    The action of "liberation" or if we want to be more accurate stopping the armed rebellion on Croatian territory (since Serbian dominated Yugoslav peoples army (JNA) withdraw from Croatia in 1992 after the Krajina was proclaimed to be UN protected zone so effectively there was only local population in rebellion there) would be perfectly legitimate. However problem is that the hidden aim of this action was to expel civilians and perform ethnic re-engineering of the territory. On the other hand I don't understand nationalism of Croatian commentators here, since this trial was not about Croatia as a country but about persons mentioned in the verdict. Another word of caution there can not be ethical equivalence when it comes to crime. Whatever Serbian forces did, and I am pretty sure they did some terrible things there, this can't be used as an excuse for crimes against civilians.

    April 15, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • ladymoria

      the only thing that i am going to say to you is that veselin šljivančanin (type his name in google and you'll now what kind of monster i'm talking about) got 5 yrs for crimes he did in Ovčara-prison camp, also known as Vukovar massacre, where 264 croatian civilians were massacred and our general Gotovina got 24 yrs in a military action where only 1, i will repeat ONE civilian was killed.... just type in google Vukovar and Skabrnja....

      April 15, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SerbianBoy

    Thank you America,for the all LOVE you have gaved us !! <3 <3

    April 15, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Domoljub 24

      Uhm... We bombed you and helped Croatia dude,get your history straight :S

      April 16, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • American

      America was on the Croatia's side.

      Thank you for your post.

      April 17, 2011 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. Daniel

    Why is it that not one American,Englishman,Frenchman nor any Russian has ever been brought to justice in the these so-called international war crimes tribunes? It proves that the adage that it's a big man's world is quite true!!! How revolting!

    April 15, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Cesar

      Good posting,Daniel. Like you,I find this disparity quite disgusting, especially after what happened in Iraq in 1991 during the first Golf War like you mentioned above. That incident needs to be looked into but won't!!!

      April 15, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  13. Cesar

    Bring out the Croatia munchies and beer. Time to celebrate; Justice has been done. Two down, others to follow.

    April 15, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jazz is a loser

    2 down two to go. Opps.... more to come. Hey guys Jazzzzzzzzz is a loser pass it on. HAHAHAHA

    April 15, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. Joe

    one day judgment will come for Serbs also! so don't celebrate thinking you all are clean!

    April 15, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
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