Serbs Burn Croatia Flag to Protest Generals' Acquittal

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  • W460
  • W460

Several hundred Serbian nationalists Saturday burned Croatia's flag during a protest against a U.N. court acquitting two Croatian generals of war crimes against ethnic Serbs in the 1990s.

The protestors, who gathered in front of the presidency building in Belgrade for a rally called by the ultra-nationalist Serb Radical Party (SRS), urged the authorities to give up Serbia's bid to join the European Union and cease all cooperation with the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

At the end of the rally, which lasted less than an hour, a group of protestors burned a flag of neighboring Croatia.

Another rally drew about 100 sympathizers of another nationalist movement Dveri, in front of the EU delegation premises in the Serbian capital.

"Damned those who are still for the EU," read one the banners carried by the protestors.

A dramatic acquittal of former generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Friday provoked outrage in Serbia.

President Tomislav Nikolic slammed the ruling as "political" and "scandalous" while the government decided to reduce cooperation with the ICTY on a technical level.

Gotovina and Markac, considered heroes in Croatia, were last year jailed for 24 and 18 years respectively for the murder of ethnic Serbs during their country's 1991-1995 struggle for independence during the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Gotovina led a key military operation in which Zagreb regained a key territory in central Croatia held by Croatian Serb rebels. That action effectively ended the war.

According to the ICTY prosecution, 324 Serb civilians and soldiers were killed and some 90,000 Serbs displaced during the operation.

Gotovina and Markac were given a hero's welcome in Zagreb on Friday, where tens of thousands cheered them at the capital's main square.

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