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. Zlatan Rezo

    For the first time in the history of world that somebody who was defending his country from enemies is played quilty, and without no evidences whatsoever.. Shame on you world and Haag court, where is the justice, what about Vukovar?? Did you forgot??
    What about my friends, cousin died defending his country, other cousin with PTSP, one with the bomb shelfs all over the body and lost hearing, are they all quilty for defending them self and families so the Serbs wouldn't kill them, is that makes them criminals too?? Where is that justice ??
    Why do you hate Croatia and Croatians??
    Wouldn't you do the same thing if somebody is attacking you and your country and your families??

    April 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Why don't you aks yourself: Where are those 600,00 Serbs, Jews, antifascist Crotas murdered by Usthasa in Jasenovac, the same Ustashas that walk free in Croatia today ? Why did cleansed 300,000 Serbs from Krajina and the world did not say a word keeping it covered? I bet in 1995 you were in love with Hague, I bet you loved international community at that time helping you cover your dirt...

      April 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • American

      Serbian Michael,

      Why does the number of "cleansed" serbians keep going up? Please your anger is not promoting peace between the Croatian and Serbian populations. Yes, maybe 35 innocent casualties occurred in Krajina, but this was not under the command of General Ante Gotovina or Mladen Markac. Wouldn't you think if such an order was handed out that there would be many more casualties?

      Atrocities committed by the Serbian aggressors during the Croatian War for Freedom and Independence created a anger and hatred from civilian Croatian to Serbians. If you were to watch you could see where this anger has stemmed from.

      If it weren't for attacks such as Vukovar on Croatian soil by Serbian aggressors, perhaps Croatians and Serbians could be living in peace together in Krajina. Serbians and Croatians were not always enemies.

      April 17, 2011 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
  2. Michael

    I wonder what would Croats say that no one in the world is surprised by the sentence, except Croats themselves ?

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

      Serbian Michael,

      Half the world does not know where Croatia is, it had been suppressed by the Serbian aggressors during the 90's. Because of the Croatian War for Independence the country was deemed as unsafe to travel to. There were bullet holes and bombed houses throughout the war stricken country.

      Only now when Croatia has recuperated from the war from the serbian aggressors do people know where it is on the map. They will not know the history of the country and its oppression. The only remnants of the war are the bullet holes that are still seem on the side of buildings, and the hatred that Serbians keep bringing up, and the pride that Croatians hold for a free and independent country.

      April 17, 2011 at 3:50 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jango

    American and other forces employ a lot of people in the military industry, a basic economic principle is producing for consumption. And these crimes and complaints from opposing sides and adjudication are only accompanying effect. The cause of any war in human history is a business (other than Trojan war). And also I would mention the forced globalization with all of that(as occurs in Lybia).

    April 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gigi

    Croatian generals were defending their country from Serbia which destroyed city Vukovar at the begining of war in 1991.

    images say everyhing.

    April 16, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      Yes. Croatian generals defended Croatia and Yugoslav generals defended Yugoslavia. I think you're going out of scope. The question is how they defended? All human beings should agree that there is no excuse whatsoever for destroying cities, murder, genocide and deportation. And this was unfortunately done in the recent history by both Croats and Serbs. Criminals ought to pay the price for their crimes and people should move forward.

      April 16, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • facts

      The crimes of the Croatian Army and paramilitary forces against ethnic Serbs!!

      April 17, 2011 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. serb

    Ok Pam, what exactly is that you want now? Do you want another war?

    April 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jango

    What happend to civilians in RSK? Were they killed by Martians?

    April 16, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. serb

    Sejete mrznju i svoju sopstvenu decu trujete mrznjom...sramota.

    April 16, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. serb

    April 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. King Tomislav


    April 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Krisi

    @Michael ...are you tring to compare what happened in Vukovar, Skabrinja, Sarajevo, Srebrenica to what happened in Krajina? War is horrible...just always remember who started the war. Who's tanks first went in Slovenia and then Croatia. Can you answer that? Serbs, thats case you dont want to say it yourself.

    April 16, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Enzo

    People let us, please, set our facts straight.
    1. The Croatia War was a war of defence against the Serbian agression.
    2. There are no inoccent from both sides.
    3. Both the Serb and Croatia army comitted things they sould be judged for.
    4. We must not forget all the villages and cities burned and bombed and people (civilian) killed by the Serbian army, but also we must not forget the Serbian people killed by the Croatian army.
    5. The War was a result of politcs. Not common people.

    Dont hate one another beacuse of it. Dont live your life in the past, in the War, bounded by it shackles.

    But "Oluja" ("Storm") was an action of defence. There was no, as judge A. Orie stated, joint criminal enterprise. Maybe it was Tuđman, but the free Croatian Republic was created on the backs of these people, our generals. I am sure that in the "Oluja" action there have been actions which are not to be praised for. But adressing the "Oluja" action as a criminal one is rewriting history and every serious person who knows his basic history facts about the Balkan region, will know to differ; will agree.

    These man are heroes, not criminals. And as my Serbian friends say; and I have some wonderfull Serbian friends, trust me; we know to differ, we know that the defence was necessary. There was no "Ethnical Cleansing", not as stated above, not as said by judge A. Orie, well not at least the one in which these men (didn't) took part.
    The main part of the prosecution, the crimes against the Serbian people in Krajina (krajiški Srbi), face it; it will not stand in the face of the second trial, for all of judge A. Ories sentences have been partialy of completely denouced IN ALL CASES OF THE ICTY.

    April 16, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Another pure Croatian BS facts, masking their own eyes from crimes they did as a nation with a bog help of Vatican, Germany and unfortunately my country too.

      April 16, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      Enzo, I enjoyed your post all the way to the conclusion that I find flawed. There was no ethnic cleansing? I remember watching on CNN a few dozen miles long convoy back in '95. This was a Serbian population from Croatia heading East. 2-300,000 people deported in matter of days, I think this is one of the biggest exodus I've seen in my life. I think the sentence is just. I just don't understand why honest Croats take personally that a Croatian criminals were convicted for their ill deeds.

      April 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • American


      " I think this is one of the biggest exodus I've seen in my life " Are you serious? Were you born yesterday. I would appreciate it if you had a better story to share than you "wow" on the fact that Serbian aggressors occupying Croatia during their War for Independence and Freedom were asked to move back to their homeland is shocking.

      This article is about Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac who are falsely accused for the murder of 35+ civilians during Operation Storm.Krajina would have never been if Serbian aggressors had not caused animosity between the two groups.

      If this video happened to your city, would oppressed Croatian civilians not want revenge? If the general's ordered for a genocide then wouldn't the casualties be higher? Croatian soil is not Croatian soil if it is forbidden to step foot on it. Croatians were not allowed to live in Krajina, their own country.

      April 17, 2011 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      (wannabe) American,

      You might live in US but your mentality is Croatian. Or should I say rural-Croatian. Very stubborn and illogical. Although there are some logic flaws in your way of reasoning ("Serbs occupied Croatia during their War for Independence" – how can Serbs "occupy" you if your country didn't existed at that point, unless they lived as your neighbors on that land for as long as you did, in which case we cannot talk about "occupation" but equally just struggle for their own independence?), let's not focus on that as this is not a subject of the article.

      Bottom line is:
      1) Gotovina and his gang committed terrible crimes against Serbs, Jews, Gypsies etc using the same MO as Pavelic's NDH during the ww2. Weather this was done in retaliation or they are simply insane people is irrelevant.

      2) Their guilt is proven in international Court of Law who gathered evidence for at least 6 years and brought sentence based on that evidence. So let's face it: those Croatian Generals ARE criminals. That doesn't mean that all Croats are criminals.

      3) Some of the Croatia's war criminals are still at large and there is no question in my mind that some of them are even in Government. They know that if Gotovina is sentenced they might be next. That's why they staged public support for Gotovina and try to brain-wash population by convincing Croats that this is a sentence against Croatia, not some criminals. So typical for primitive tyrants. Milosevic was also trying to convict Serbs that if HE gets convicted, this would be a sentence against Serbia.

      Food for thoughts:

      Imagine you're a teenager and the bank seized your money for no reason. You go to the Chief of Police and you ask him if you should go and demand your money from the bank. The Chief tells you sure, go for it. You get to the bank with shotguns and bombs. You kill 9 tellers and chase out 200 customers that happened to be there legally on their own business. Than you blast the vault, destroying the whole building and you get your money. You celebrate that day in the future as the day of your maturity, but one day officials bring a criminal conviction against you and sentence you to jail. Is this a just decision? Should your friends go on hunger strike for you because you acted in frustration and were seeking retaliation?

      Common my croatian-American friend, I doubt that you're that young that you can't tell right from wrong..

      April 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • American

      Serbian Justin,

      That last little piece to your post was well applauded. I'm glad to see how Serbians respond to Croatians, and Americans, only with aggression. This aggression has been seen throughout the history of your nation against other cultures and especially against Croatians. Your aggression was the reason why Vukovar, Dubrovnik, Zadar and other major cities were bombed and attempted for a "Greater Serbia". Why was Serbia bombing Dubrovnik and Vukovar and killing 8,000 Bosnians in Srebrenica (

      How can you challenge the fact that Serbians were not aggressors?

      It is because of Serbians like you, there will never be peace between the two groups. Your comments really do not bother me.


      April 18, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tom

    Base your opinions on fact not on your ignorance:

    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. In Croatia, the war is primarily referred to as the Homeland War (Domovinski rat) and also as the Greater-Serbian aggression

    Pam, don't let Michael's comments bother you. We know about Jasenovac. It was terrible. It was also 60 years ago.
    I think it may have been a little worse what Americans did to Hiroshima & Nagasaki. This topic is about Gotovina and the war of Croatia's independance in the 90's. He was one of the reasons, that the region of Krajina was liberated from Serbian occupation. That land is Croatian not Serbian. It's one thing to live there and another for intruders to come and claim it as there own. The man is a hero who is serving 24 years. May God help the world open their eyes. Look what happened to Mandela. It took almost 30 years for them to see what terrible things they have done.

    April 16, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Michael

    Trluy people, Croats are not ashamed of anything. They still praised Ustashas as heros, they still celebrate ethnic cleansing, and blame everything they did on others. Don't trust them a single word, they have no friends among Serbs, they got no respect in the whole world. I don't know, but I believe even Himler what would be ashamed what they did and what continue to do. End of story.

    April 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • ana

      your are a disturbing man or a women..... who obviously hates croatians and uses this blog to let your frustrations out, since you are not bringing any facts or other usefull info

      April 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • AR

      Michael I hope you whole family die !!!

      April 17, 2011 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tom

    There you go talking about events that took place 60 years ago (probably because you see you know nothing about Croatian politics and what the war really was). Why don't you stop writing lies. The only person that nobody believes is you and the garbage that is coming from your mouth.

    Those who really know the historical facts know what happened. The truth seems to bother you? Well, it does not bother me. I can say I am proud to be Croatian! This brave little country fought off all odds and held back Serbian aggression and their attempt to ETHNICALLY CLEANSE US. I find it bizarre you don't talk a lot of about this. You are too busy quoting things from 60 years ago.

    By the way, if ever you go in Serbia, wear a Croatian soccer jersey and then let me know how well you are treated 🙂

    April 16, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ana

    "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."

    – does this mean that US thinks that Croatia was the aggressor by using terms of ethnic cleasing- in the war? Today in the news from our journalist in Washington was said by US that this action was legitime .....

    April 16, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      absolutely not. The sentence just stated the facts: genocide against Serbian population in Croatia has been committed by some criminal elements. For Croatia's sake, you people have to recognize that, so it doesn't happen again. There is no excuse for murder and deportation based on ethnic origin. Why would you want to side up with criminals if you're not one of them? And why do you perceive the sentence as being against Croatian State? It was just a trial against some criminals, not the entire State or Croatian people in general.

      April 16, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ana

      Justin- then those wiriting of CNN are lies or did I misunderstood something? As I said before those words have a heavy load and will only outrage the ppl. gain there were crimes from our side and we know it, as in any war... i dont know how many times do we have to emphasise it. Crimes should be paied for.
      But HAAG condeemd the whole action as an aggression, which was not. That action liberated my home, so after 4 years i could finally go back home. See my point?

      April 17, 2011 at 4:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      Ana, you probably live in Croatia, and this is how Croatian Government want you to see things. I, however, live in America. Nobody tells me how to read the story.

      I truly don't see the reason for your frustration. If Gotovina was convicted as a criminal or someone who committed genocide, deportation or some other war crimes, where in hell did you get that Croatian state was mentioned or blamed for his actions? And what makes you put the equation between Gotovina and Croatian people or namely yourself?

      If, and only if, there is any reference or lesson for Croats to learn is that there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for the crime, regardless of the motive or who commits it..

      Croatia is a very young state and needs to move forward as a modern country where all human rights will be equally respected, where nobody will fear prosecution based on their race or ethnicity.

      My impression is that Gotovina's Croatia had an idea of being as ethnically pure as 3rd Reich. But that's simply impossible. Look around and try to notice diversity I'm talking about in England, France, Germany, Italy.. Those country for sure prospered by being diverse. All those East Indians in England feel welcomed, they were given the opportunity to make a living and in the 2nd generation they feel British.

      You need to embrace and accept back those Serbs that you deported 15 years ago, give them back their property and make sure they feel safe. You need to convince them with your grace, not threats, that they were wrong all those years for fearing to go back to their homeland. Only than you will prove to yourselves and the whole World that you're as democratic country as any other in Europe. Peace Ana, and don't get caught into the official propaganda!

      April 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • ana

      @Justin, I dont live in Croatia, so that defets your theory of brain washing. I left Croatia after the war. So i now facts pretty well, plus i came from mixed marriage
      you didnt understand me when i said there were crimes but no ethnical cleasing.
      As soon as someone mentions ethnical cleasing it means that land who did it was the aggressor, its very simple, you can try to debate it but we all know what it really means.
      Have i ever mentioned we never commited crimes in the war? NO
      What did i say? ITS NOT ETHNICAL CLEASING
      Should someone py for the crime BUT NOT ethnical cleasing? YES
      Serbs got their property back, at least most of them, got their pensions and money
      How do i know this weeeeeeeeel my serbian part of family got it! and our neighbours too
      Do you think i have more facts from that region than you?

      I asked and asked ppl here why the hell it is never mentioned and emphasised that croats were expelled by force from that area. Can you tell me why? Is that an ethnical wipe out?

      April 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
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