Search  
   
Good Morning America World News Tonight 20/20 Primetime Nightline WNN This Week
March 24, 2003
 
HOMEPAGE
NEWS SUMMARY
US
INTERNATIONAL
MONEYScope
WEATHER
LOCAL NEWS
ENTERTAINMENT
ESPN SPORTS
SCI / TECH
POLITICS
HEALTH
TRAVEL
FEATURED SERVICES
RELATIONSHIPS
SHOPPING
DOWNLOADS
WIRELESS
INTERACT
VIDEO & AUDIO
BOARDS
CHAT
NEWS ALERTS
CONTACT ABC
Great Skiing and Riding! (Ad Served by Mediaplex)
Ex-Croatian Gen. Convicted of War Crimes
Ex-Croatian Army General, Two Aides Convicted of War Crimes Over Slayings of Serb Civilians

The Associated Press


Print This Page
Email This Page
See Most Sent
Pockets of Resistance Line Baghdad Route
U.S. Firepower in the Persian Gulf
Have Questions About The War? E-Mail Us
ZAGREB, Croatia March 24

A former Croatian army general was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison Monday for masterminding the slayings of dozens of Serb civilians early in Croatia's 1991 war for independence.

Maj. Gen. Mirko Norac, 35, is the most senior Croatian army officer convicted for war crimes in a Croatian court.

The trial, which lasted nearly two years, was one of just a few domestic proceedings to prosecute Croat wartime atrocities. It tested the Croatian judiciary's capability and willingness to handle such a sensitive national issue.

The ruling immediately triggered protests from war veterans, who gathered in front of the district court in Rijeka in northwestern Croatia to insist that Norac and other Croat fighters were national heroes, not criminals.

Norac's subordinate, Tihomir Oreskovic, received a 15-year prison term Monday. Although Norac was the local commander at the time in the central city of Gospic, where the killings occurred, most witnesses claimed Oreskovic held de facto command of the area.

An ex-soldier, Stjepan Granic, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the same case, and another, Ivica Rozic, was acquitted of charges.

The maximum penalty was 20 years in prison.

The slaughter at Gospic is one of the dark episodes of Croatia's side of the war.

Norac and Oreskovic were accused of commanding the killings in the city 90 miles southwest of Zagreb in October 1991. At least 50 people, mainly Serb civilians, were dragged from homes, shelters and workplaces and executed in fields outside the city, Monday's ruling said.

The trial has forced Croats most of whom still insist that only Serbs committed war crimes to confront the atrocities of their compatriots.

The war erupted when country's Serbs, backed by the Yugoslav army, took up arms in mid-1991 to oppose the country's independence from Yugoslavia. Thousands of Croats were killed and expelled as rebels seized a third of the country. The war ended four years later when Zagreb recaptured those areas.

The defendants insisted they played no role in the killings and claimed they were merely defending Gospic from Serb assaults.

Croatia's pro-Western government, which took power three years ago, has cooperated with the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, in its investigations of Croat wartime atrocities.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
Sponsored by Royal Caribbean (Ad Served by DoubleClick)
  RELATED STORIES
International Index
More Raw News
 
 INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES
12 U.S. Soldiers Believed Captured
Liberated Iraqis Doubt U.S. Goals
France Working on Saddam Exile Deal?
Could Saddam's Elite Troops Be Defecting?
First Iraq Airstrike Facts

 


Copyright 2003 ABCNEWS Internet Ventures.
Click here for:  HELP   ADVERTISER INFO   CONTACT ABC   TOOLS   PR   TERMS OF USE   PRIVACY POLICY

Family of sites:      ABC.com        ABC Family        ESPN.com        Disney.com        FamilyFun.com        GO Mail        Movies.com