Languages
Page last updated at 22:31 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Serbia 'genocide' case to proceed

Croatian soldiers defend Vukovar in 1991
Croatian sources say that 20,000 Croatians died in the conflict

Croatia's allegations against Serbia of genocide during the early 1990s will be heard at the International Court of Justice, the court has decided.

Judges at the UN's highest court in The Hague voted by 10 to seven that it had the jurisdiction to hear the case.

Croatian sources say that 20,000 Croatians died in the conflict, while hundreds of thousands of Serbs living there were displaced.

This will be only the second genocide case to come before the court.

The first was also brought against Serbia - by Bosnia. Serbia was cleared in that case.

A date for hearing Croatia's complaint has yet to be set.

'First round'

Serbia had argued that the court had no jurisdiction to hear Croatia's case.

It said the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was not party to the UN's genocide convention nor even a member of the UN when the complaint was filed.

Most of the alleged crimes were committed before the current republic was formed, it also argued.

However, ICJ judge Rosalyn Higgins said the 17-strong panel had dismissed Serbia's challenge to the court's competence.

Croatian Justice Minister Ivan Simonovic described the ruling as "a great legal success", but stressed that it was "just the first round".

His country's legal action was intended not "to live in the past but to build healthy foundations for the sustainable future of the region", he said.

Serbian Justice Minister Snezana Malovic, meanwhile, said her country was "still considering all options including out of court settlement and filing a counter suit".

"However, we hope that the court's final decision will be in Serbia's favour," she added.

Croatia first filed the complaint in 1999, accusing Serbia of "a form of genocide which resulted in large numbers of Croatian citizens being displaced, killed, tortured, or illegally detained as well as extensive property destruction".

It referred to crimes committed "in the Knin region, and in eastern and western Slavonia and Dalmatia".

In February 2007, the ICJ cleared Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide during the Bosnian war.

However, it said Serbia had broken international law by failing to stop the killings.

Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Court clears Serbia of genocide
26 Feb 07 |  Europe
World court marks 60th birthday
12 Apr 06 |  Europe

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific