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War crimes trial of former top Croatian generals begins at UN tribunal

11 March 2008 – The trial of three former senior Croatian generals accused of murdering, persecuting and displacing ethnic Serbs during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s got under way at a United Nations war crimes tribunal today.

Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac have pleaded not guilty before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity related to 'Operation Storm,' a 1995 military offensive in the Krajina region of Croatia.

Prosecutors accuse the three men of being key members of a joint criminal enterprise – along with four other men, including the former president of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, who have since died – to forcibly and permanently remove ethnic Serbs from the Krajina region.

The indictment states that the men, or the forces under their command, murdered at least 37 Serbs, persecuted many others and plundered their property, and failed to prevent the crimes or take action against subordinates.

The joint trial, being held in The Hague in the Netherlands, is expected to take more than a year.

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