Serbia set to sue Croatia for war crimes

November 20, 2008, Thursday/ 18:30:00/ AP
Serbia will respond to Croatia's genocide suit at the World Court by suing its former foe for war crimes, the foreign minister said. Vuk Jeremic told state television late on Tuesday that Serbia will sue Croatia over a 1995 offensive that sent tens of thousands of Serbs fleeing the country.The Netherlands-based International Court of Justice on Tuesday granted Croatia the right to sue Serbia, deciding it has the authority to rule in the case. Croatia argues that Serb attacks during the 1991-95 war of independence, which left thousands of people dead and displaced, were a form of genocide. The dispute has brought relations between the two former Yugoslav republics to their lowest point since the wars of the 1990s. Serbia-Croatia ties are crucial for the stability of the Balkans, which is still healing from the bloodletting. The conflict erupted when Croatia declared independence from the former Yugoslavia triggering a rebellion by minority Serbs who -- backed by Serbia -- formed their own mini-state. About 10,000 people are believed to have been killed in the Croatian war. The conflict ended after Zagreb retook the Serb-held territories in 1995. Zagreb wants the World Court to order Belgrade to pay compensation for the war. Croatia also asked the court to order Serbia to help trace people missing from the war and return cultural items plundered during the fighting.

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