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Two Accused Generals Trial Moved To Croatia

UN Tribunal Judges Weigh Transferring Trial Of Two Accused Generals To Croatia

The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today asked three judges to decide whether the trial of two Croatian generals over their role in a 1993 military operation against a Serbian enclave should be transferred to a court in Croatia in the interests of efficiency.

Judge Theodor Meron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), ordered the establishment of a trial chamber following a request for a transfer - the first of its kind - from prosecutors.

Judges Alfons Orie of the Netherlands, O-Gon Kwon of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Kevin Parker of Australia will now hear submissions about whether the trials of Rahim Ademi and Mirko Norac should be heard by the County Court of Zagreb instead.

Mr. Ademi and Mr. Norac face one charge of crimes against humanity (persecutions) and four charges of war crimes (two counts of murder, and separate counts of plunder of property, and wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages).

But the ICTY's rules allow for trials to be transferred, if approved by a panel of judges, to a country either where the alleged crime was committed, the accused was arrested, or there is jurisdiction and a willingness to accept the case.

As part of its strategy to complete all of its work by 2010, ICTY officials are examining whether the trials of some indicted individuals can be transferred effectively to the local courts of relevant States.

If the three judges approve this transfer, Mr. Ademi and Mr. Norac will be handed over to Croatian authorities and prosecutors will provide all the necessary materials to their counterparts.

Mr. Ademi, 50, and Mr. Norac, 36, served as generals in the Croatian army after the country became independent in 1990 and worked as commanders during a military operation in the Medak Pocket area in September 1993.

Medak Pocket - a small, rural area with about 400 Serb civilian residents - was situated in what was known as a "pink zone," an area adjacent to a UN Protected Area in Croatia during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Croatian forces attacked Medak Pocket on 9 September, shelling towns and buildings and killing at least 29 Serbs and wounding many others. The majority of the area's farm buildings were destroyed and the personal belongings of residents were stolen or damaged beyond repair.

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