Serbia Files ICJ Lawsuit Accusing Croatia of Genocide

World | January 5, 2010, Tuesday // 16:03|  views

Serbia has filed a lawsuit alleging genocide by Croatia in the Balkan War of 1991 - 1995. Photo by BGNES

Serbia has filed a lawsuit alleging genocide by Croatia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

The Serbian government had decided on this action on December 31, after consultations between president Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic. The suit was filed on Monday, according to news agency reports.

The lawsuit was sent to the Hague as a countersuit to one already filed against Serbia in 1999 by neighboring Croatia, relating to alleged violation of the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide during the armed conflicts on Croatian territory from 1991 to 1995.

Despite several requests by Serbia, Croatia has refused to withdraw its ICJ allegations. In 2008, the ICJ granted Croatia the right to sue Serbia by deciding the court had the authority to rule in the case.

Long-standing disagreements over what happened during the war have renewed tensions between the two countries as stability of the Balkans is an international concern, and as the neighbors have sought to improve ties since the Balkan war ended and both began the road to EU membership.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said on Monday that his country had done all it could to avoid filing suit, but that Croatia had continued to refuse to withdraw its own.

'"We had no choice," he stated. "We are aware that we are now entering a new phase in relations with Croatia, but we still want to cooperate with that country in the process of European integration, just as we want peace and stability in the western Balkans."

Serbia has said it would seek to prove that Croatia committed genocide when it expelled its Serb population in a 1995 offensive. In turn, Croatia maintains it will prove that Serbia, led at the time by the late Slobodan Milosevic, was guilty of atrocities against Croatia.

The war erupted in 1991 when Croatia's Serbs, backed by Serbia, rebelled against Croatia's decision to split from Yugoslavia. Serbs took control of one-third of Croatia, declaring a mini-state that Croatia later recaptured in 1995.

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Tags: Serbia, Croatia, genocide, lawsuit, ICJ, Hague, Balkan War, Boris Tadic, Vuk Jeremic, Mirko Cvetkovic


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