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Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Friday, 30 May 2008 12:52 UK

Croatia jails war crimes general

Gen Mirko Norac in court in June 2007
Gen Mirko Norac allowed the torture of prisoners of war

A Croatian court has convicted a former general, Mirko Norac, of war crimes against Serbs.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison for failing to stop his soldiers killing and torturing Serbs in 1993.

A second general on trial, Rahim Ademi, was acquitted of the same charges. They were the highest-ranking officers to be tried in Croatia for such crimes.

The case was forwarded from The Hague and was seen as a test of Croatia's approach to wartime atrocities.

The charges referred to the massacre of Serb civilians in 1993 in the "Medak pocket" in southern Croatia.

Croatian forces briefly recaptured the village from the self-declared Serb Krajina republic that at one time took up nearly 30% of Croatian territory.

The charge sheet included the killing of 28 civilians and five prisoners.

Some of the victims were tortured before they were killed.

The operation ended in a clash between Croatian forces and UN peacekeepers.

EU readiness

Gen Norac is already serving a 12-year sentence for war crimes committed in the Gospic area in 1991.

The ethnic-Albanian Gen Ademi had surrendered voluntarily to the tribunal in 2001 and was at liberty while awaiting trial.

Correspondents said the trial was seen as a test of Croatia's readiness to join the European Union.

The UN war crimes tribunal's decision to transfer the case to Zagreb was in recognition of the progress Croatia had earlier made in dealing with war crimes investigations, the BBC's Balkans analyst Gabriel Partos said.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Croatia
14 Mar 08 |  Country profiles
Croat suspect denies war crimes
12 Dec 05 |  Europe
Evicted Serbs remember Storm
05 Aug 05 |  Europe
Profile: General Ademi
27 Jul 01 |  Europe

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