Croatia–Serbia genocide case

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Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia)
Seal of the International Court of Justice.png
The Peace Palace in The Hague, the seat of the ICJ.
Court International Court of Justice
Citation(s) Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia)

The Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia)[1] was heard before the International Court of Justice.

The Republic of Croatia filed the suit against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 2 July 1999, citing Article IX of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[2] The application was filed for Croatia by American lawyer David Rivkin.[3] With the transformation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia into Serbia and Montenegro and the dissolution of that country in 2006, Serbia is considered its legal successor.

The Republic of Serbia counterfiled a suit charging the Republic of Croatia with genocide, on 4 January 2010.[4] The application covers missing people, killed people, refugees, expelled people and all military actions and concentration camps with historical account of World War II persecution of Serbs committed by the Independent State of Croatia, puppet state of Nazi Germany, and Ustaše during World War II.[5]

Both applications had a financial aspect, seeking compensation of damages. Opening arguments began on Monday, 3 March 2014 and lasted until 1 April 2014.[6][7] On 3 February 2015, the International Court of Justice ruled that neither Serbia nor Croatia proved sufficient evidence that either side committed genocide, thereby dismissing both cases.[8]

Facts[edit]

Croatia waited until the conclusion of the Bosnian Genocide Case before it proceeded with its own case. Sakib Softić, who worked on the Bosnian case, stated that Croatia was in a much better position than his country was in its own court suit.[9]

Preliminary objections[edit]

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia returned its preliminary objections on 1 September 2002.[10] On 18 November 2008, the court decided on preliminary objections to the case filed by Serbia. The court ruled against Serbia's three objections to the case, while finding that one of these objections was not purely preliminary. Finally, the court decided that it had jurisdiction over the case.[2] Croatia was represented at the proceedings by its justice minister, Ivan Šimonović.[11] The decision made headlines in Croatia and Serbia, especially as it fell on the anniversary of the fall of Vukovar in 1991 to Serb forces.[12]

Serbian officials sought for Croatia to withdraw from the lawsuit on multiple occasions.[13][14] Then President of Serbia Boris Tadić said that "Serbia considered in previous years, and still believes, that it is always better for all conflicts from wars during the 1990s to be solved in extra-judicial processes, through peaceful means, however, for such an approach of Serbia, partners on the other side are needed" and the Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić said that "I think it would be better for Croatia for it to never come to this process. Our main goal and wish is not to sue each other, but to cooperate on the road towards EU integration, to build good neighborly relations, to solve problems which we have inherited."[15][16] In November 2013 Serbia's Prime Minister Ivica Dačić reiterated a wish for mutual withdrawal of lawsuits between the two countries.[17]

Serbia v. Croatia[edit]

Following the court ruling that it had the jurisdiction in Croatia's case, Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremić announced a plan to file a counter-suit against Croatia.[18] The application was submitted on 4 January 2010. The document included information on crimes committed against Serbs in Gospić, Sisak, Pakrac, Karlovac, Osijek, Paulin Dvor and during the operations Operation Flash, Operation Storm and Operation Medak Pocket. The lawsuit also covered all those victims murdered after the war as they tried to return to the homes which they had left as refugees. The lawsuit against Croatia contained a historical account, with a focus on World War II persecution of Serbs.[4]

A public opinion poll in Serbia by Blic found that 69.7% of people supported the counter-suit, while 9.1% opposed it.[19] The lawsuit has been opposed by the minor opposition Liberal Democratic Party whose leader said that "Serbia needs a smart foreign policy, which will not respond with a mistake to a mistake that was made in the last century by Croatia".[20][21]

President Tomislav Nikolić of Serbia called for a mutual withdrawal of the genocide suits in January 2014.[22]

Relation to ICTY[edit]

In the final verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the case of Prosecutor v. Gotovina et al. was an acquittal, some German media have speculated that this opens a possibility for Serbia to pay large reparations to Croatia.[23] However, Serbian media pointed out that several main suspsects involved in the war such as Momčilo Perišić, Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović have been acquitted by the ICTY, leading to speculation on pending likely the closure of Serbia's potential criminal responsibility.[clarification needed][24]

Timeline[edit]

Date Event
2 July 1999 Croatia files against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
1 March 2001 Croatia submits a memorial to the ICJ, ahead of the March 14 deadline to do so.
1 September 2002 The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia submits a counter-memorial to the ICJ, ahead of the September 16 deadline to do so.
4 February 2003 The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is reconstituted as Serbia and Montenegro.
25 April 2003 Croatia submits its written statement, ahead of the 29 April deadline.
5 June 2006 Serbia and Montenegro separate into individual countries with Serbia succeeding the state in all legal capacity.
26 February 2007 A judgment is delivered in the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro).
26–30 May 2008 Public hearings on the preliminary objections in the case.
18 November 2008 The court rules that it has jurisdiction over the case.
4 January 2010 Serbia files a counter-memorial against Croatia.
20 December 2010 Croatia's submits its reply to the Serbian counter-memorial on the day of the deadline.
4 November 2011 Serbia submits its rejoinder on the day of the deadline.
30 August 2012 Deadline for Croatia to submit its additional reply to the Serbian counter-memorial.
3 March 2014 Start of the hearing of the case.
3 February 2015 Croatia v. Serbia ruling delivered - both cases dismissed.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Contentious Cases - International Court of Justice". Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Preliminary Objections
  3. ^ Application Instituting Proceedings
  4. ^ a b Serbia files genocide lawsuit against Croatia Archived June 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ No court trial would be better for Zagreb Archived December 22, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., english.blic.rs; accessed 28 April 2015.
  6. ^ ICJ: Public hearings from Monday 3 March to Tuesday 1 April 2014
  7. ^ "At ICJ, Croatia accuses Serbia of genocide". Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  8. ^ U.N. court: Serbs' actions in Croatia not considered genocide, bbc.co.uk; accessed 28 April 2015.
  9. ^ Softić prijatno iznenađen odlukom suda, Dnevni Avaz, dnevniavaz.ba; accessed 28 April 2015.
  10. ^ Preliminary Objections of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
  11. ^ Šimonović: Odluka Međunarodnog suda pravde veliki je uspjeh Hrvatske, vecernji.hr; accessed 28 April 2015.
  12. ^ Srbiji sude za genocid
  13. ^ "Serbia favors withdrawal of genocide lawsuits - - on B92.net". Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  14. ^ Official: Serbia will not drop Croatian genocide lawsuit unilaterally, upi.com; accessed 28 April 2015.
  15. ^ Jeremić: Serbia doesn’t want to go to court, b92.net; accessed 28 April 2015.
  16. ^ Kontratužba protiv Hrvatske, rts.rs; accessed 28 April 2015.(Serbian)
  17. ^ PM favors withdrawal of genocide lawsuits, b92.net; accessed 28 April 2015.
  18. ^ Jeremić: Tužba zbog "Oluje", b92.net; accessed 28 April 2015.
  19. ^ Stanje nacije
  20. ^ Čedo Jovanović: Protutužbom Srbija nastavlja s pogrešnom politikom, vecernji.hr; accessed 28 April 2015. (Croatian)
  21. ^ Srbija podnela tužbu protiv Hrvatske, mondo.rs; accessed 28 April 2015.
  22. ^ "Unconditional withdrawal of genocide lawsuits", b92.net; accessed 28 April 2015.
  23. ^ Brey, Thomas (16 November 2012). "Ein Freispruch mit Folgen". Salzburger Nachrichten (in German). Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  24. ^ Presuda štiti Srbiju od tužbi za genocid, blic.rs; accessed 28 April 2015.