Hague appeal court clears jailed Croatian officers

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Hague appeal court clears jailed Croatian officers

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It was just a taste of what life could now be like for two Croatian generals freed on appeal after being jailed for war crimes.

Celebrations began early and continued for hours as thousands turned out in Zagreb’s main square to see Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac.

The pair were convicted last year by the Hague tribunal, accused of orchestrating a campaign of murder and plunder to drive some 200,000 Serbs from a rebel enclave of Croatia during the country’s war in the mid 90s.

With Gotovina widely regarded as a national hero, one supporter praised the court’s decision saying she was glad God showed mercy on them.

But a ex-prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has questioned the verdict. Carla del Ponte said she does not know of any additional evidence that has been presented since their conviction, so the outcome she says is unexplainable.

The successful appeal marks the biggest reversal for the court in its near two decade history.
But the outcome is also likely to further strain ties between Serbia and Croatia which have soured since nationalists rose to power in Belgrade this year.