ICJ "likely to throw out both genocide lawsuits"

BELGRADE -- A Serbian international law professor says the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will likely dismiss Croatia's genocide lawsuit and Serbia's counter-suit.

The ICJ (FoNet, file)
The ICJ (FoNet, file)

According to Tibor Varadi, a settlement would be in the best interest of both countries.

Varadi told Tanjug on Thursday that as far as the conflicts in the territory of Croatia went - "where there were undoubtedly serious offenses and offenders on both sides," no one had been convicted, or even accused of genocide.

"That's why I still think it's likely that the ICJ will reject both lawsuits, while an oral hearing would continue to cause passions to flare. My opinion is unchanged - a settlement would be in the best interest of the two countries, but whether it will happen is really hard to say," Varadi told the news agency.

Also on Thursday, Croatian President Ivo Josipović said that the lawsuits would be "unnecessary, if the two sides agreed on the contentious issues."

The appeal judgment for Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač, Varadi stressed, created a situation of "a lot of heated passions in both countries", and added that was "certainly not the atmosphere in which it is easy to go for an agreement." According to him, such opportunities did exist in previous years, "and ti's a shame that they were missed."

Asked whether the acquittal of Gotovina and Markač weakened Serbia's position and helped that of Croatia, and whether it could influence the decisions of theh ICJ, Varadi said that "it may be an argument more for Croatia, and one less for Serbia,", but that the ICJ only had jurisdiction for genocide, which had not been proven anywhere in the conflicts in Croatia.

According to him, there was a dramatic difference between the first instance guilty verdicts for the two former Croatian officials, and the appeal judgment of the same court, which, "although the ICJ so far gave it (Hague Tribunal) a high degree of confidence", now "does not inspire confidence".

"There are dramatic differences between the first and second instance decision on Gotovina, which is really unusual, however, the first instance judgment also did not convict Gotovina for genocide. Both decisions were lower than that of the bar that has been raised very high, and at the same time, there is no Serb convicted or even accused of genocide," said Varadi, who therefore believes that the court will rejected both lawsuits.