By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has jailed two Croatian former generals for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Serbs during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
Ante Gotovina was sentenced to 24 years in prison, Mladan Markac was jailed for 18 years.
A third co-defendant, Ivan Cermak, was acquitted.
All three had been accused of murdering, deporting, and prosecuting Serbs during a military campaign at the end of the 1991-1995 war, which Croatia fought for independence from Yugoslavia and against rebel Serbs.
The 1995 “Operation Storm” killed more than 300 Serbs and drove 200,000 from Croatia’s Krajina region which had been controlled by rebel Serbs since 1991.
In reading Gotovina’s verdict at the court hearing in The Hague on April 15, Judge Alphons Orie said she considered the “gravity of the offences, particularly the large number of crimes in a wide geographical area, the vulnerability of the victims and the abuse of [the former general’s] position of authority” to have been “aggravating circumstances” in the case.
The prosecution said the generals had formed a “joint criminal enterprise” with Croatia’s then-president Franjo Tudjman aimed at driving Serbs permanently out of Krajina. Tudjman died in 1999.
All three generals had pleaded not guilty. They are considered to be heroes by many in Croatia.
Croatian war veterans have announced plans to stage a mass protest on Saturday in response to the verdicts.