Croatian Hero Ante Gotovina Sentenced to 24 Years in Prison for War Crimes during the Yugoslavian Wars
Thousands of Croatian war veterans and regular people protested on Saturday the sentence of the International Court for Former Yugoslavia against the Croatian war hero Gen. Ante Gotovina, who was found guilty of war crimes and is to spend 24 years in prison.
The Court reached the verdict on Friday, convicting Gotovina for failing to avoid the atrocities commited by his troops during “Operation Storm,” an operation executed in 1995 with the intention of throwing the Serbs out of Croatian territory.
The battle was decisive for the faith of the entire war, which had been going on for years and which meant the breakaway of Croatia from the Serb-led Yugoslavian Federation.
By this conviction, along with the one of Mladen Markac, Croatia receives a severe self-image blow, provided that it has been playing the role of a victim in the conflict.
The protestors on Saturday gathered in Zagreb’s main square, saying that the conviction was motivated by political concerns.
Ante Gotovina fought for the distruction of the self-proclaimed Krajina Serb Republic, and was accused that while doing so, 150 Serbs were killed and some 200,000 had to leave their homes.
He fought in the French Legion, where he won the reputation of a fearless soldier, and was convicted in the 1980s in France for robbery and extortion.
He returned home, enjoing the favor of nationalist president Franjo Tudjman, and became the leading military commander and hero of the Croatian during the war of independence.
In 2000, the then president of Croatia Stjepan Mesic ordered him into retirement. In 2001, he was indicted by the Tribunal in the Hague.11