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. Goran

    There is a god,lord the Serbs thanks you for understandeng sufering of us in Croatia for last 60 years,it all begain in Jasenovac where Croats kill 1 000 000 Serbs,Jews and other non Croat nations.

    April 15, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • life

      but this proceeding wasn't bout WWII! Does Gotovina have to pay because of Pavelic? It's like some false-charged German is sentenced because of Hitler's crimes. Damn!

      April 15, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veli Joze

      Croatians killed 1 million Serbs in WW 2? In 1900, Serbia had a population of 2.5 million in 1900. Croatia that same year had 2.4 million people in 1900. In 2009 Serbia had 7.4 million while Croatia had 4.4 million. Take a look through Wikipedia. Germany refused for almost 2 decades to pay war reparations because the Yugoslav central government had wanted to extract maximum benefit.

      Knin in the last census before WW 2 had 43 % of the population that was Croatian. In 1991 there was only 5%. Who was killing who? It was the Serbs who held 70% of the key military positions after WW 2 and almost 100% between the first and second world wars.

      Whether we are talking about the Serbian dictatorship between WW1 and WW2 or the communist years in which tens of thousands of Croatians *disappeared* the goal on the Serbian side was always the same: Greater Serbia.

      April 16, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
    • American

      Goran, did you misplace your decimals?

      April 17, 2011 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mario Jelinić

    We hope that USA will help us to defend against Serbian political supporters from some influential countries in EU. Croatian people were attacked by Serbian army and we were defending our country and people! The same as USA will do if someone attack them! We were victims, not criminals... We are very small country and we can't fight alone against this unacceptable injustice! Help us in the name of justice!!! We need you!!!

    April 15, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Kloothommel

      Croatia was worse during than Germany in WW2, those bills still need to be settled, Croatia stil is an very fascist country.

      April 15, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Kiki

    I'm tired of the Serbs on here acting like they're the suffering victims. Hello? Anyone in their right mind and knowledge of history will be able to discern fact from fiction. You, Serbs, should be ashamed of yourself! You have dreamt of a Greater Serbia for countless years. So, in order to fulfill this dream, you get your army and paramilitary to occupy parts of Croatia and Bosnia by ethically cleansing its citizens (remember Srebrenica?), razing entire cities to the ground (remember Vukovar?), destroying historical monuments (remember Dubrovnik?), bulldozing churches (remember Aljmas?) and mosques (remember Sarajevo?). You have your citizens move into the parts of the country you cleansed. You issue your own currency in the occupation. Less than 4 years later, the Croatian army, under the support of the US military, overtakes your paramilitary forces in an effort to liberate SOVEREIGN Croatian land. Military casualties are on both sides, but your Serb brethren have already fled across the Bosnian border. Not a hair on their heads was missing! Now, many years later, certain factions are equating the aggressor (Serbs) with the victim (Croats). What was Croatia supposed to do? Roll over and let you ethnically cleanse every last one of them and occupy the entire country? Would the US just sit back and let another country occupy its territory like that? I don't think so. You are guilty of aggression. Croatia is guilty of defending itself. Serbs, be careful how much you gloat at this Hague attrocity for your time will come again (remember when NATO fighterjets bombed you??). God sees everything and, in the end, that's all that matters.

    April 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoJo


      April 15, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • life

      well said. congrats!

      April 15, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • oli

      True,God sees everything!But there must be justice for all victims,not just Croats.As long as we dont learn to respect each other there will always be people like Tudjman,Milosevich who will use that to achieve their political goals,no matter what!And we,ordinary people,will pay the highest price!Let us hope that this was the last time!

      April 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • PetarBre

      Hello Kiki,
      Get your facts straight. Serbs were majority on the territory they occupied, so ethnical cleansed them and not the other way around. Also, if "Not a hair on their heads was missing!", who killed then all those elderly people during operation storm?
      Cmon, let me hear your theory?
      If you Croats had courage to bring those killers to justice (and I am sure you know who they are) then this trial would not have happened at all.

      April 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veli Joze

      RE: PetarBre

      Serbs were majority in the lands they occupied? Really? So you are saying that the ethnic makeup of those areas was unchanged in '92 compared to '91? Are you saying that non-Serbs weren't forced to flee? There are less than half the number of Croatians left in Vojvodina today compared to '91. Why?

      I remember when Vukovar fell on November 18th, 1991. CNN had a video from the town were Serbian chetnik solders were heard singing how they were going to massacre Croatians. Chetniks were allied with the Mussolini's Fascists and Hitler's Nazis in WW 2. Easy enough to do a google search on Djurisic, Prince Pavle and Hitler and see what you get.

      April 16, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
    • nikola

      Second World War? jasenovac? Serbs also were agresors? 700.000 peoples. You hate Serbs more you like Croatia. Tragic!

      April 16, 2011 at 4:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. tihana234

    CROATIA IS VICTIM !!!! just look this pictures only in ONE town so ou can imagine how is in the others. look what they done to us, they destroyed us. but ante didn't give up. HE DEFENDED HIS HOMELAND so tell me is this crime, Serbian people start first. They had to somehow defend. they couldn't only stand and watch them how they destroy thery country. PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO 6:46 in this field serbian solders drove croatian civilians and torture them, beat them, made the massacre on them and then dug holes and throw their bodys in this holes. this is so sad, i am just sayin REMEBER VUKOVAR 1991-1995 🙁

    April 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • history

      Are you looking for photos? Here they are:

      look all of them and then convince us that you changed and you behaved better in this war when you committed crimes in the WWII that even German solders found horrifying and it was just for fun! Killing Serbs was always just fun for you. You even designed a knife called SRBOSJEK=Serb-cutter ( The rumour is that the knife got improved in this last war!!!!!

      Learn your history!

      April 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Per Astra Ad Aspera

      If Croatia was the "victim", then I guess your good friends Adolph and Benito were "victims", too.

      April 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tihana234

    oh end just one thing this video, in this video you can see Ovčaru, this is the next mass grave after world war II in Europe soo... please just take 5 minutes and read this and watch pictures.

    April 15, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Miro

    Croatia was only defending herself from the aggressors Serbia who relentlessly attacked Croatia killing and destroying before ethnically cleansing large areas of Croatia from Croatians. The whole world just stood there looking the other way, virtually allowing the Serbs to do what they please while leaving the poor Croatians to fend for themselves. Now the Croatians astonishingly get treated the same as those barbaric Serb war criminals for defending their homeland?? War is wrong and I understand that 2 wrongs don’t make a right. Europe would not have been liberated from the Germans on this notion, as doing 2 wrongs was the only way to free themselves from German aggression. The Croatians had no choice either as the world wasn’t going to step in and help and the Croatians had no peaceful solution with the Serbs, as Serbia wasn’t going to settle on nothing less than a Greater Serbia with occupied Croatian land. Shame to Hague, EU and Serbia.

    April 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kiki

      Well said!

      April 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • rebecca

      Miro, you hit the nail on the coffin!

      April 15, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      @Miro: I understand that you're obviously brain-washed by your county's media. What you're saying makes no sense. If bad boys Serbs really went armed against innocent non-armed Croats to take their country away from them(?!), how the hell Croats managed to deport entire Serbian population (some say over half a million) from that Yugoslav province back in '95? There must be few billion of Croats if they managed to ethnically cleanse half a million armed and blood-thirsty Serbs:)

      I must admit that your posts are very entertaining and I can't wait to read the next one. Cheers!

      April 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Milan

      Stop with that crap, Serbia was never in war with Croatia. Serbs in Croatia were in war with Croatia. And I'm one of that 250 000 Serbs who were expelled and my house was burned. Not to mention 22000 houses that Croatian army burned and more than 2000 Serbian civilans killed.

      April 15, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Martin

    This verdict shows that ICTY is not a neutral court. The fact is that Croatia was invaded and great part of the territory was under occupation.
    The territory was retaken with military action and like in every action there were some casualties. But the result was the end of the war and reintegration of the occupied territory.

    I mean, try coming to any airport in the U.S. armed with guns and declare autonomy. You'll be shot down by SWAT in no time. Would that be a joined criminal undertake by police and US government?

    Maybe the example is stupid and irrelevant, but the point is that defenders are charged here and the attackers are excused.
    Not fair imho.

    April 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. niko

    Croats –

    Croats celebrate national holiday in August – events when Croat army and police forcefully made 200.000+ Serb CIVILIANS who lived for decades in Croatia take refuge...and bombed them along their way into Serbia.???!!!
    Croatian general was now convicted for that crime against humanity – yet the Croats cry in their capital square??? They did not cry for 200.000+ civilians that were their neighbors.

    Croats have very vast Nazi history going back to their units from WWII called Ustase,and the influence of that history is very present even today and was especially present in 1990's.

    April 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • American

      A country has a right to celebrate Freedom and Independence.

      Croatia asked for freedom, Croatia did not ask for war.

      Thank you for your post.

      April 17, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • American

      "bombed them along their way into Serbia" If orders were given from Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac were to bomb and kill Serbians, wouldnt you think the casualties would be more than 35+?

      Also, if Serbians were escaping to Serbia.... where were the Croatian Vukovar civilians escaping to?

      Before you judge Croatians for their fight for Independence, please realize if it weren't for Serbian aggressors in cities such as Vukovar, Croatians and Serbians may have lived together peacefully.

      April 17, 2011 at 4:09 am | Report abuse |
  9. canadian

    Croatia's Generals are all heroes !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Croatia won a war for Independence in the 1990s and nothing can ever take that away !!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      well, apparently not all of Croatia's Generals are heroes. Some of them were blood-thirsty beasts and criminals who committed terrible war crimes. At least an impartial and international tribunal thinks so based on the evidence that was gathered over the past 20 years:)

      April 16, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. life

    Oh, come on! It's not fair,and it has no sense! UN and especially USA CONTROLLED action Storm. And now, Gotovina is convicted because of that same action. There are so much evidences that they are not guilty, that Serbs (JNA) tried to make Great Serbia...Haven't you ever heard for Srebrenica, Vukovar? History is history, you can't change it!
    And considering that "ETHNIC CLEANSINING" theory. Maybe some serbian families were killed by some mistake, but there was no intention of killing innocent people (serbs or croats) in action Storm. But, there were ARMED serbian families and they were killing innocent croats and croatian soldiers. During the war, you could have been shoot IN THE CENTRE OF ZAGREB(not mentioning other parts of country) by some serbs who had been living in Zagreb at that time. And if you deport them or kill them in self defence-it's ETHNIC CLEANSINING???
    I'm so disappointed.

    April 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoJo

      "Jos Hrvatska ni propala dok mi zivimo
      ona nam je zivot dala, mi ju volimo
      Hura, nek se ori
      za svoj rod se Hrvat bori
      hura, sad se cuje
      Hrvatskom odjekuje"

      April 15, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Milan

      I was 6 when war happened and my family didn't have weapons, so don't try to lie when it's obvious that crimes did happen. Just google Serbs in Croatia and you will see 1991. more than 500 000 Serbs living and 2001 more than 200 000 living in Croatia. I think you can calculate. Not to mention Jasenovac (world war 2) where more than 700 000 Serbs, Jews and Roma people were killed.

      April 15, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      You should be disappointed in criminals, not US. Although we supported your independence, you were never given our consent to kill, murder and deport the entire Serbian minority in your country.

      April 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • American

      Justin.... may I call you Serbian Justin?

      Thanks. You quote "murder and deport the entire Serbian minority in your country." Croatians were actually the minority being oppressed by the Serbian aggressors on their own soil.

      If atrocities had not been made against the Croatian civilians by the"Greater Serbian" aggressors than Serbs and Croats could have lived side by side in peace. The fact that the area was occupied by the aggressors and no Croatian was allowed to live there, what would you have suggested should have been done?

      General Ante Gotovina and Malden Markac did not order for civilian murders. The fact that 35+ civilians were killed during a war out of 200,000 individuals the percentage works out to .00175% proves that an army did not conduct this. It was Croatian civilians seeking revenge for atrocities committed by the Serbian aggressors who bombed every major city, including Vukovar.

      April 17, 2011 at 4:19 am | Report abuse |
  11. life

    And yeah, can anyone tell me where Ratko Mladic is?
    Oh, well Serbia and UK are friends so he/they don't have to be sentenced.

    April 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. hGd

    Gott strafe England !!!

    April 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tihana234

    @NIKO. this is fake picture. i'm sorry about that people but Serbia started first. and somenthing else you said 200 000 people. look at thiS The Croatian War of Independence was fought from 1991 to 1995 between forces loyal to the government of Croatia—which had declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFR Yugoslavia)—and the Serb-controlled Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and local Serb forces, with the JNA ending its combat operations in Croatia by 1992. –>

    April 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. darko

    The Court did the great job. Ante Gotovina led the ethnic cleansing in Croatia, and nobody in the right mind can say anything different. Just look at demographic map of Croatia before and after the war. It's that simple... During the WW II fascist leader in Croatia had a plan to murder one third of all Serbs, one third should be convert in catholicism, and last third to be forced out of Croatia. He must be very proud today in hell. His plan came through, he is hero in croatia as his fascistic army too. Cardinal Stepinac was well known as priest who had collection of golden teeth from Jewish victims in Croatia, and today he is saint over there.....It's shame that people forgot all that

    April 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ivana

      And what did the Serbs do in Vukovar, Srebrenica, Aljmaš???? tell me that? and who was held accountable for that?????

      April 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yic

      Hey and what about your beloved Republic of Serbian Krajina? Ethnic composition at the start of war on its territory war 50/50. In 1994 88% were Serbs. Speaking of ethnic cleansing... lol.

      April 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. San

    24 years of is too little for him, he should have gotten more! hahah you guys are so funny: Croatia was only defending themselves?! do you really belive that? your politicians wanted a Croatia without Serbs and your tv station HRT is full of propaganda. You are trying so hard to create an image about the Serbs that only they are the agressors ad that the Croatians were the poor and innocent 'good' people.. that's why all of your people are crying now because of the propaganda shown almost everyday on your tv station HRT, they can't or don't want to believe that Gotovina was involved in war crimes, but you know it damn good. finnaly justice has been done! why is he sentenced to 24years? BECAUSE THEY HAVE PROOF THAT HE KILLED CIVILIANS

    April 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kiki

      I pity the Serbian mentality that thinks everyone is equally to blame plays an equal part in that war. Fact remains: not one Croatian citizen crossed the border into Serbia and fired a bullet!!! Yet, thousands of Serbs crossed Croatian borders not only to wage war, but to occupy and ethnically cleanse parts of the country. Once you cross a sovereign border, you are considered an 'invader', and as such, the invaded country has every right to expell you back to where you came from. If people side with the invader, then they are traitors to the country. Serbs that decided to leave during Operation Storm were too ashamed of their actions during the cleansing and occupation to stay in Croatia. And I would be lying if I said I wanted them to stay. Just look at some of the movies made about the war and see for yourself what the world thinks about who the true dirty and disgusting perpetrator is... Here's a few for your weekend viewing pleasure: The Hunting Party, Harrison's Flowers, Welcome to Sarajevo, Behind Enemy Lines.

      And to anyone else reading this... Know how to tell the difference between a Serbian and Croatian village in the formerly occupied parts of Croatia? The Croatian houses that made it through the war have new roofs, new facades, new everything....Why? Because they were completley destroyed during the Serbian occupation.

      April 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ivan

      if Gotovina gets 24 years, then Ratko Mladic bettter get a death sentence

      April 15, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ponosan Hrvat

      show me the 'proof'

      April 16, 2011 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
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