Croatia Vs Serbia ICJ Genocide Trial Begins

Genocide in Croatia Photo: Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

Genocide in Croatia
Photo: Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

Finally – it begins! One of the most important international court cases addressing the 1990’s war of aggression against Croatia will today 3rd March 2014 begin with hearing of evidence at the trial in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague. The trial is said to end on 1st April 2014 and there is a total ban on publishing any details from the hearing until the trial ends, which include specific evidence and testimonies.

Croatia had filed a suit in 1999 against the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (the remnants of former communist Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, which disintegrated into two separate independent states in 2006/ into Serbia and Montenegro ) for genocide at the highest UN court – the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.  As Serbia and Montenegro went their separate ways in 2006, Croatia’s lawsuit at the ICJ stayed as against Serbia, and not Montenegro. In 2010 Serbia filed a counterclaim against Croatia.

Croatia aims to prove that units commanded by Serbia committed genocide in the war between 1991 and 1995.
Croatian Application to the court states, among other matters: “The Genocide Convention prohibits the destruction, in whole or in part, of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, including the elimination or displacement of members of that group from a particular territory. Between 1991 and 1995, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ( read Serbia) repeatedly violated the Genocide Convention. By directly controlling the activity of its armed forces, intelligence agents, and various paramilitary detachments, on the territory of the Republic of Croatia, in the Knin region’, eastern and western Slavonia, and Dalmatia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (read Serbia) is liable for the “ethnic cleansing” of Croatian citizens from these areas – a form of genocide which resulted in large numbers of Croatian citizens being displaced, killed, tortured, or illegally detained, as well as extensive property destruction – and is required to provide reparation for the resulting damages. In addition, by directing, encouraging, and urging Croatian citizens of Serb ethnicity in the Knin region to evacuate the area in 1995, as the Republic of Croatia reasserted its legitimate governmental authority (and in the face of clear reassurance emanating from the highest level of the Croatian Government, including the President of the Republic of Croatia, Dr. Franjo Tudjman, that the local Serbs had nothing to fear and should stay), the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (read Serbia) engaged in conduct amounting to a second round of “ethnic cleansing”, in violation of the Genocide Convention…

In July 1991, there were already 30,000 registered displaced persons in Croatia. The long list of displaced persons started with the persecution of the Croats from Lika in the spring of 1991, and intensified in the summer with the persecution of the Croats from the territory of Banovina, Kordun, eastern Slavonia, western Slavonia, west Syrmium, Baranja, Dalmatian hinterland, Drnis, and Knin. The peak of the refugee crisis occurred in November 1991, when 600,000 displaced persons were registered in Croatia, including 15,000 survivors of a massacre in Vukovar. The atrocities inflicted by the Serbs on Vukovar’s people were brutal, and the resulting humanitarian crisis among displaced persons was unprecedented. In fact, the city of Vukovar, including countless historic buildings, and cultural and sacral artefacts, was completely destroyed
by the so-called JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army).

By 1999, in the period of time following 1995, Croatia has discovered and registered at least 120 mass graves, mostly in the eastern Slavonia, Banovina, Dalmatia, and Knin regions. To date, the exhumation process has registered 2,989 bodies in both mass and individual graves. For example, in Ovchara,
near Vukovar, a mass grave was discovered, from which some 200 bodies were exhumed. These were the bodies of wounded persons and patients who had been taken from the Vukovar hospital. At the mass grave at the New Grave yard of Vukovar, 938 bodies were found, and in Bakin, 56 bodies, mostly of elderly victims, were discovered in a mass grave. In Skabrnja, near Zadar, another mass grave was recently discovered to contain 27 bodies. Also, in Vila Gavrilovik, near Petrinja, a mass grave was found that contained 17 bodies…

As a result of the aggression waged by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (read Serbia), its agents, officials, and surrogates, Croatia and its citizens suffered the following damages :
In Croatia, there were 20,000 dead and 55,000 wounded, with over 3,000 people still unaccounted for.
Out of the total number of victims, 303 children died, 35 children were taken prisoner and disappeared, and 1,276 children were wounded.1,700 people were killed in Vukovar alone (1,100 of them were civilians), more than 4,000 people were wounded, between 3,000 and 5,000 taken prisoner, and 1,000 people are still unaccounted for.

In 1992, the humanitarian crisis in Croatia was at its peak, with approximately 800,000 displaced persons and refugees, which constituted more than 15 per cent of the total population of Croatia. Several thousand Croat civilians were taken prisoner and forcibly transferred to Serbia and other areas of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Of the 7,000 people later released, 60 per cent had spent time in prisons or detention facilities in Serbia.

According to estimates by the National Commission for the Registration and Assessment of War Damages, 590 towns and villages suffered damage, 35 were razed to the ground, with another 34 suffering significant damage. 1,821 cultural monuments were destroyed or damaged, including about 651 in the area of Dubrovnik-Neretva County and about 356 in the area of Osijek-Baranja County.

Three national parks, five natural parks, 19 special reservations, 10 parks, and 19 park cultural monuments were damaged. 323 historical sites and settlements were destroyed or damaged. 171,000 housing units (constituting approximately 10 per cent of the housing capacity of Croatia) were destroyed, often by arson.
Approximately 450 Croatian Catholic churches were destroyed or severely damaged, with lesser damage to over 250 others. In addition, approximately 151 rectories, 31 monasteries, and 57 cemeteries were destroyed or severely damaged. 210 libraries were destroyed or damaged (from school libraries to such famous libraries as those in Dubrovnik).

22 journalists were killed, many of whom were trying to reveal the truth about the aggression against Croatia.

Estimates indicate that upwards of 3 million various explosive devices were planted within Croatia, mostly anti-personnel and anti-tank devices. These mines are, for the most part, uncharted, and block about 300,000 hectares of arable land. About 25 per cent of Croatia’s total economic capacity, including such large facilities as the Adriatic Pipeline, was damaged or destroyed during 199 1 – 1992. Approximately 10 per cent of Croatia’s tourist facilities were damaged or destroyed by the FRY-backed forces and agents…

In this genocide ICJ case Croatia wants to be clearly identified as the victim of the war and that would surely stop the equating of the victim and aggressor that had been a prolific and evilly twisted political push, clearly originating from Serbia and its supporters.
The suit calls on Serbia to have all Serbian war criminals put on trial, all cultural assets seized during the war to be given back to Croatia, and calls for the payment of reparations to Croatia. Additionally, Croatia wants an explanation of what happened to the more than 1,400 Croatians who have been missing since the war.

The genocide counterclaim against Croatia, Serbia filed in 2010, will see claims of Serbs killed during that war in Croatia, it’s 2010 claim that 200,000 Serbs were expelled from Croatia in 1995 after the Croatian military Operation Storm, which liberated Croatian sovereign territory from Serb occupation, is surely not to hold any water at the ICJ given that the ICTY had in November 2012 in its acquittal of Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac found that there had been no forced deportations of Serbs from Croatia.

Serbia, however, seems to introduce into this case WWII killings of Serbs in Croatia!

Well, well, well! If such is permitted then I do hope that Croatia will have the opportunity to insert another claim to its Application – that of murdered Croats under the tyranny and dictatorship of the Serb-led Kingdom of Yugoslavia prior to WWII!

Lately, there has been much thrashing about in the media by legal professionals that neither Croatia nor Serbia have a chance of winning this case. Most refer to the case when in 2007 ICJ judges acquitted Serbia (in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina Vs Serbia) of direct responsibility for the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, finding it guilty only of failing to prevent and punish the perpetrators of this crime. However, in the same breath, ICJ ruled that genocide took place in mid-1995 at Srebrenica when almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb troops after they overran a UN-protected enclave.
These legal professionals who thrash about saying that the case of genocide at the ICJ has no prospects are fools for rushing out so, to my view. From many articles I have read in the past couple of weeks none of these legal professionals have mentioned that Bosnia’s lawyers were unable to access transcripts from meetings of Serbia’s Supreme Defence Council, SDC, which they believed were crucial to proving the case.
Although minutes from these meetings are widely believed to contain vital information about Belgrade’s involvement in the wars in Bosnia and Croatia, their most relevant parts had been granted confidential status by the judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY and it would be a miserable day for justice if these documents do not appear as evidence in 2014 at ICJ!

So far there have at the ICTY been both charges and convictions of Croatian Serb Krajina individuals for crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing …, e.g. Milan Babic, Milan Martic, Mile Mrksic, Veselin Sljivancanin, Pavle Strugar and cases still on ICTY Trial: Goran Hadzic and Vojislav Seselj. Links to Serbia, Yugoslav People’s Army and Serbia’s government including president Slobodan Milosevic have been established. This, I believe is most significant for Croatia’s claim against Serbia, let alone the mountains of evidence that’s surely to land in the ICJ courtroom during the coming month – aspects of genocide are many and the totality of the various horrors that included mass killings surely equate to genocide in moral and legal sense.

Zvonimir SeparovicThe 1999 lawsuit of Croatia against Serbia for genocide was a major contribution to seeking justice for the victims of Serb aggression under the then minister of justice dr Zvonimir Separovic, a legal scholar and politician. His dedication to justice for victims of war and other mass crimes is a permanent co-traveler in his life – he is a pioneer of victimology and today, despite his advanced age, still heads with great vigour and determination the Croatian Victimology Society, whose goals include justice for victims of communist crimes.

I join the multitudes of Croats and victims of war crimes in wishing the Croatian legal team in the ICJ the victory Croatia truly deserves. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Comments

  1. This is big news!

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  2. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist.

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  3. Wilkinson says:

    “We will show you that the crimes that took place in the campaign against Croats amount to genocide,” Croatia’s agent to the court, Vesna Crnic-Grotic, told the judges.

    Serbian representative Sasa Obradovic acknowledged that “horrific crimes were committed in Croatia,” but told reporters that they do not constitute genocide.

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2014/mar/03/at-icj-croatia-accuses-serbia-of-genocide/

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  4. Miso Sorbel says:

    The Court will find that terrible atrocities were committed in Croatia and that in itself is absolute validation of Croatia’s need to defend itself and lives! I pray that the Judges will find that these do constitute genocide, because that is what occurred.

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  5. Robert Bert says:

    In Belgrade, Serbia’s Prime Minister Ivica Dacic expressed hope that the case would ease past tensions, but also warned it could revive nationalist sentiments. Well, stuff you Dacic – better work at getting the people who committed crimes and getting Serbia’s political stance to start expressing some remorse. One cannot threat with nationalist sentiments and unrest if commission of widespread genocidal crimes is confirmed.

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  6. Spectator says:

    LET US PRAY!

    Rosaries are displayed at the Ovcara mass grave site near Vukovar, Croatia. Ovcara is the biggest mass grave in Croatia where hundreds of Croatians were killed after Serb forces captured the town of Vukovar on November 18, 1991 during the 1991-1995 Serbo – Croatian war. The hearings in the Croatia-Serbia genocide trials before the International Court of Justice in The Hague are scheduled to start on March 3, in which the court will examine Croatia’s accusation that Serbia committed genocide in the Croatian 1991-95 independence war. Croatia’s lawsuit against Serbia, filed in 1999, seeks reparations from Serbia on the grounds that the Belgrade authorities were liable for ethnic cleansing committed against Croatian citizens during Croatia’s four-year independence war against rebel Serb minority backed by Belgrade that claimed some 20,000 lives. Reuters/Antonio Bronic

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  7. brankec says:

    Although it’s very reassuring to see Luka Misetic sitting as part of the team, it’s equally troubling to see him in the back row, and Orsat Miljenic sitting front and center. I just don’t know if I can trust ANY member of the kukuriku coalition to have any, let alone the main say in how the team should proceed. There is nothing that can convince me that they are not capable of sabotaging, however discreetly, elements of the trial. For instance, one of the very first exhibits in the trial this morning, the video clip of the fly-over showing post-attack Vukovar seemed much too short, it did not show anywhere near the extent of total damage, and it was played at what seemed to be 2x speed.

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    • Such thoughts about the make-up of the legal team have preoccupied my mind too, Brankec, and also the fact that Mirjan Damaska, like Luka Misetic, are not up there at the front of the legal team. It’s certainly odd that HRT TV news have on Sunday made a point of naming these two gentlemen as members of the legal team as though attempting to instill trust from the public. History has taught us to be vigilant and careful, which has many a time proven justified but I do trust that this time sense of duty towards the victims of the brutal attacks against Croats will prevail in all and that adequate evidence will be presented and argued in court.

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    • Brankec I agree…this yugo loving, communist Government is the wrong group of people to be leading this lawsuit. Their wanting to drop the lawsuit is evidence enough of their treachery and anti Croatian bias. Have a read of this article – see below – if the Government couldn’t drop the lawsuit, I fear they will sabotage it: http://www.dnevno.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/116475-nova-borba-za-oluju-miljenic-namjerno-odredio-strucnjake-da-izgubimo-proces-u-haagu.html

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  8. Ina if the serbs want to bring up ww2, which most likely will happen, we need to tell the truth of what happened to us in the war that the Serbs started the massacres, with the killings in Bjelovar after the day after the state had been declared independent in1941, the killings in Tinj were my entire grandfather’s village was wiped out by their Serbian neighbors with the help of the Chetniks, and other things such as the Draza Mihajlovic order to make sure that Yugoslavia would be ethnically pure Serbian. I hope the court opens their eyes and sees what type of people are the Serbians particularly when it comes to matters here in court, nothing but cheats and backstabbers to anyone who isn’t for them.

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    • Yes Jure, if it’s brought up by Serbian side in court Croatian team will have the right of reply and I do trust all is prepared. We wait and see.

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    • I don’t trust the current Cro government to bring up this counter defense to WW2 arguments in any significant way because it goes against their communist / partizan ideology that allowed them to rule Croatia and Yugo for over 50 years…it would completely discredit the foundation of Partizan Communist Yugo and Croatia. These snakes are alive and well in Cro!

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      • therealamericro says:

        I don’t trust it either as this goverment and Seselj are 100 percent agreed on revisionism regarding WWII.

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  9. therealamericro says:
    • Yes, therealamericro, it’s almost like the trolls are saying “give up this futile exercise – it was not genocide” – looking at concept of genocide through a very narrow window, that politically favours the Serbs…but it’s not a futile exercise as the whole truth and its legal and truth in general must be shown. Facts, let’s trust, will win the day here

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      • therealamericro says:

        Ina I agree but it seems pretty evident to me that Josipovic deliberately wrote a bad case and the last-minute changes (and the fact that L. Misetic is not running the entire case) means that this government was paid by certain powers who may themselves have to deal with uncomfortable truths for their open and tacit support for Milosevic’s / Serbia’s genocidal aggression, to fail.

        Maybe the team will be able to push through. The counter-suit is a comic charade, and, in addition to the illogical logic train (Croatia under Tudman was NDH – despite Tudman being a Partisan and despite no reference to NDH in the constitution nor any similarities in economic or political model or policies), the crux of their “countersuit” is that “250,000 Serbs” were “ethnically cleansed” when the ICTY ruled between 170,000 and 180,000 Serbs were not ethnically cleansed.

        I hope they have the 7 August video of Strbac w/english subtitles that good ole Slovenac posted on Youtube, just to drive this point home.

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      • My sentiments aligned with yours, therealamericro

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  10. ZvonimirŠeparović says:

    Draga Ina, hvala Ti od sveg srca što si ovako lipo napisala o mojoj ulozi u podnošenju Hrvatske tužbe protiv Srbije za genocid

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    • Translation of comment by Zvonimir Separovic: Dear Ina, thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing in such a nice way about my role in the Croatian application against Serbia for genocide.
      REPLY: It’s an honour Zvonimir Separovic. If it wasn’t for your astute care for the victim that Croatia was in that war much of its terrible history would have been swept under the carpet of Greater Serbian political network.

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  11. Right now I can only hope and pray this case will finally bring truth to light and hold Serbia responsible for its and genocidal Greater Serbia policy. If Serbs refuse to acknowledge the truth of the Greater Serbia policy, they should be forced to be accountable by law. I wouldn’t be surprised if legal sabotage was attempted by bringing up WWII (sadly, not out of respect and justice for victims, but for political mud-slinging), but we’ve been through legal sabotage before and we must fight through all attempts now and in the future. It is just so sad that victims need court cases for the world to realise we had every right of defense. It seems Europe will never really learn from its past.

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  12. Very concerned about the lawsuit and this current government – more evidence of sabotage alerts by dr Zvonimir Separovic. I apologize for the negative attitude, but trust in this government is non existent. They are snakes who know how to slowly kill it’s victim…
    http://www.dnevno.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/116554-ako-tuzba-ne-uspije-bit-ce-krivi-politicki-smradovi-koji-su-izdali-ovu-zemlju-hrvatska-je-zrtva-a-nobilo-pljuje-po-ovoj-zemlji-u-kojoj-zaraduje-kruh.html

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    • Fears and frets of possible sabotage are felt far and wide, Sunman – we have learned to be cautious and left with much yet to do for true justice to conquer.

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  13. therealamericro says:

    From the media reports I have not seen a mention of the Rampart (RAM) Plan of the JNA.

    This is a high level document authored by the creme de la creme of the genocidal Serbianized JNA in late summer and early fall of 1991, and it outlined the targeting of civilians to “demoralize the enemy.” http://www.scribd.com/doc/89460553/Rape-Warfare-the-Hidden-Genocide-in-Bosnia-Herzegovina-and-Croatia

    I hope Mr. Misetic makes sure it gets brought up.

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    • Perhaps it will get there, therealamerico? But if not rape crimes are sure to get in as part of genocidal pattern

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      • therealamericro says:

        My money is on Mr. Misetic who I am pretty sure reads this blog.

        Rape as warfare was a pre-planned, overseen and uninvestigated and unpunished (by JNA and its proxies) genocidal war crime.

        The systematic rape of women in Vukovar is evidence of this.

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      • Too right all fronts, therealamericro. Am watching live ICJ streaming as I write this…am so pleased to hear talking of and evidence of various aspects that make up genocide…

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    • therealamericro thanks for the link to the book. If we use social media we can help ensure the message gets out to not only the general public but to specific persons. Send Misetic and others on the legal team a tweet or a facebook message (most have facebook or twitter accounts) about the RAM plan and other pieces of evidence or issues; write letters/emails to the Cro government (I sent one to Pusic and copied the HDZ party and Ruza Tomasic). These letters/email become part of public record and in a small way demonstrates the power of the people. Silence only helps the aggressor.

      Like

  14. Buna ziua !
    Pentru domnia voastra, un buchet de trandafiri

    si urarea de a avea parte de o PRIMAVARA minunata ! 🙂
    Cu stima si respect,
    Aliosa.

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  15. So sad, I hope justice is served.

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  16. Prayers for truth and justice !

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  17. I pray for justice for all. Did you pick up your award? Hugs, Barbara

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    • Thank you Barbara, yes I noted the award and I will upload to the site very soon – had “lack of time” issues as most people. I am so very honoured for your considerations. We all pray now, so needed

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  18. Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
    Court trial concerning 1990’s war

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  19. Hi Ina…PM Milanovic is in OZ this week…but I heard there were no protests to greet him on arrival. Was really looking forward to the PM hearing it from Aussie Croats, especially after Pusic called them extremists. I am confident that our patriotic Croatian brothers and sisters will greet the PM appropriately to let him know that his leadership is inappropriate.

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  20. Deleted as biased and malicious attack against WWII Croatia and offensive

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  21. Wow! It’s interesting to see what’s going on in an alternate reality!

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