UN Court: Serbia and Croatia didn't commit genocide in 1990s

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UN Genocide Decision: Serbia and Croatia
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UN Court: Serbia and Croatia didn't commit genocide in 1990s
Presiding judge Peter Tomka, center, of Slovakia starts reading the World Court's decision in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 as the International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court, is ruling on whether Croatia and Serbia committed genocide during the wars sparked by the breakup off the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Croatia has accused Serbia of genocide early in the wars and Serbia in turn claims that Croat forces were responsible for genocide in a 1995 campaign to retake territory held by rebel Serbs. Other judges, from left, are; Ronny Abraham of France, Bernardo Sepulveda-Amor of Mexico, Tomka, Hisashi Owada of Japan and Kenneth Keith of New Zealand. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
The International Court of Justice in the Hague said Tuesday both Serbia and Croatia committed atrocities in the early 1990s, but not genocide.
Members of an organization called Jews Against Genocide and other New Yorkers march Tuesday July 11, 1995, to the home of United Nation's Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, protesting what they call a lack of action on the part of the U.N. regarding the arms embargo in Bosnia. The U.N. "safe haven" of Srebrenica, a Muslim enclave, fell to the Bosnian Serbs Tuesday. (AP Photo/Joe Tabacca)
This picture released by the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal was used as evidence presented by the prosecution on the first day of the trial of Bosnian Serb Gen. Radislav Krstic in The Hague March 13, 2000. Calling it a "triumph of evil," U.N. prosecutors showed footage of meadows filled with corpses and bones decaying in mass graves as the trial opened Monday of the highest-ranking Serb to go before a tribunal on genocide charges. Krstic is charged in Europe's bloodiest massacre since World War II: the July 1995 slaughter of at least 7,500 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, a U.N.-declared demilitarized zone. (AP Photo/HO)
April 1995 file photo of the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, right, and the Bosnian Serb army Commander Gen. Ratko Mladic during visite to Mt.Vlasic front line, some 90 kilometers(60 miles) northwest of Sarajevo. The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in Hague, indicted Thursday November 16,1995 the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic on crimes against humanity and genocide charges for the massacre of Muslims in the U.N safe area of Srebrenica last july.(AP PHOTO/SAVA RADOVANOVIC)
OSIJEK, CROATIA: Zeljko 'Arkan' Raznatovic (R), commander of the Serbian volunteery units, and his son MIhailo, check their weapons before heading for a patrol on the front line in the area aournd Osijek, in Serb-held eastern Slavonia, 11 June 1995. Serb warlord Zeljko Raznatovic, known as Arkan aims a submachine gun 17 June 1995 in Osijek, a Serb-held area of Slavonia, a region in eastern Croatia, during a training session of his paramilitary group. In 1990, Arkan set up the Serbian Volunteer Guard or Tigers, highly trained and well-equipped paramilitary group known as Arkan's Tigers to defend Serb interests in Croatia and Bosnia during the break-up of the Yugoslav federation. Arkan was gunned down in Belgrade in January 2000. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken in November 1991 in the Croatian town of Vukovar shows Yugoslav army captain Miroslav Radic (R) listening to a report of a Serbian paramilitary. Beta news agency reported 21 April 2003 that Radic, indicted by the UN tribunal for war crimes committed in 1991 in Vukovar has surrendered to authorities in Belgrade. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Presiding judge Peter Tomka of Slovakia, fourth from right, opens the World Court session in The Hague, Netherlands Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court, is ruling on whether Croatia and Serbia committed genocide during the wars sparked by the breakup off the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Croatia has accused Serbia of genocide early in the wars and Serbia in turn claims that Croat forces were responsible for genocide in a 1995 campaign to retake territory held by rebel Serbs. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A young boy wears a cartridge belt while playing with a used hand-held rocket launcher Monday, December 2, 1991 in downtown Vukovar, Yugoslavia. The Croation town fell recently to the Serb-dominated Yugoslavian Federal Army after three months of heavy fighting. (AP Photo/ Sjdjan Petrovic)
Serb militarymen run for cover during the Muslim attack on the Bosna Hotel on the outskirts of Sarajevo in Ilidza, Wednesday, April 22, 1992. The hotel is mainly occupied by journalists covering the civil war and European Community monitors. A planned visit to Sarajevo on Thursday by the EC's chief mediator for Yugoslavia, Lord Carrington, and other EC envoys was uncertain. (AP Photo/Martin Nangle)
Croatian National Guard soldiers keep watch over the Danube River in Erdut, Yugoslavia, which is the topographical border between Croatia and Voyvodina near Osijek, seen July 26, 1991. Croatian forces battled federal troops in areas bordering Serbia, escalating fears that the secession crisis is spreading toward all-out war. (AP Photo/Hubert Wagner)
A pro-Serbian soldier rests on Monday at a farm in the small village of Seliste, near Glina, Croatia on Sept. 16, 1991, before his unit heads out to fight Croatian nationalists said to be in a nearby forest. A European Community peace negotiator came to Yugoslavia on Monday in an atmosphere of near total war in Croatia for a summit its President and the leader of rival Serbia. (AP Photo/Pavel Horejsi)
A Croatian policeman prepares to fire a rifle-launched grenade, Sunday, July 7, 1991 near Tenja, Yugoslavia during fighting with Serbian nationalists known as ?Chatniks?. The clash occurred along a provincial border that separates the break ?away republic of Croatia from Serbia, the base of the Communist federal government. (AP Photo)
A Croatian militiaman displays a single rose jammed into the barrel of his rifle in the village of Ostajnica, Yugoslavia, Monday, August 12, 1991. The nation?s largest republic, Serbia, called on Monday for a new constitution. (AP Photo/Christof Birbaumer)
(**Caption information not received)
Serbian militiamen move a 75mm cannon into position in the town of Vukovar in the republic of Croatia, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 1991. Heavy fighting has erupted in and around the strategic town, on the Danube River, between Serbian militiamen, federal army troops, and Croatian separatists. (AP Photo)
A plane goes up in flames after the Yugoslav Federal Army attacked a civilian airport in Varazdin, Yugoslavia, Croatia on Monday, Sept. 16, 1991. Violence escalated as the European Community?s peace negotiator, Lord Carrington, headed to Yugoslavia for a summit meeting with president?s of rival Croatia and Serbia. (AP Photo/Darko Garenak)
Croatia soldiers pass destroyed houses on their way to the front line in the eastern Croatian village of Nustar, Croatia, Friday, Oct. 18, 1991. The village has been the scene of intense shelling and is the nearest Croatian stronghold to besieged Vukovar. (AP Photo/Greg-Marinovich)
Yugoslav federal army soldiers arrest a Croat guardsman in the village of Zvekovica, near the Adriatic town of Cavtat, Croatia, Thursday, Oct. 11, 1991. Yugoslavia’s army agreed in principle on Thursday to withdraw from Croatia within 8 month, and Croat militants pledged to lift their blockades of army barracks in the secessionist republic. (AP Photo/Mile Jelisijevic)
Croatian National Guardsmen stand with their hands tied together in Prevlaka, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Saturday, Oct. 6, 1991. They were captured by Yugoslav Federal Forces in fighting around Dubrovnik. (AP Photo/Stojan Djordjevic)
Yugoslav Federal soldiers take aim while guarding a road leading to Dubrovnik, Croatia, Sunday, Oct. 21, 1991. Fighting was reported around this medieval Croatian port, and Croats and Serbs blamed each other for violating the latest cease-fire attempt. (AP Photo)
A truck driver throws a box of food to a Croatia militiaman after a convoy of food and medical supplies was turned back before reaching Vukovar after the Yugoslav federal army said it found a grenade in a Red Cross vehicle in Nustar, Croatia, Friday, Oct. 12, 1991. A European Community spokesman in Croatia said the army and the Croatian military had reached agreement to allow the convoy to return to Vukovar on Saturday. (AP Photo/Greg Marinovich)
A man weeps as he flees the frontline village of Nustar, with all his remaining belongings on a bicycle during continued fighting in eastern Croatia, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 1991. The president’s of Serbia and Croatia called for a cease-fire, the ninth since in July, after two hours of joint talks with Soviet President Gorbachev in Moscow on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Greg Marinovich)
Federal Army soldiers help a wounded woman to an ambulance in the village of Pacici in the Serbian dominated region of Krajina, Croatia, Saturday, Oct. 7, 1991. Tanks and warplanes of the Serb-dominated federal army pounded key Croatian strongholds in an unrelenting drive to cement control of large swaths of the breakaway republic’s ethnically mixed east. (AP Photo)
Two Croatian militiamen take cover behind a car after their convoy was attacked, reportedly by Serbian nationalists, in the Croatian village of Majur on Saturday, July 20, 1991. No injuries were reported. (AP Photo/Gepa)
Two Serbian volunteers pass a destroyed Yugoslavian army tank, Nov. 24, 1991 in downtown Vukovar. The town on the Danube River fell to the Serbian-dominated Yugoslavian army after months of fighting for the Croatian stronghold. (AP Photo/Spiros Mantzarlis)
Muslim and Croat POWs sit in the sleeping room of the detention camp of Manjaca, near Banjaluka, some 112 miles northwest of Sarajevo, Friday, August 15, 1992, as journalists toured the camp during a photo opportunity allowed by the Serbian authorities. Serbia and Croatia on Friday exchanged hundreds of prisoners captured during the war between the two former Yugoslav republics. (AP Photo/Dusko Zavisic)
Croatian civilians start cleaning up debris in Sisak on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1991 after shelling by the Serbian-dominated Yugoslavian army. Serbia is calling for an end to the European community peace talks and has rejected sanctions threatened by the EC unless the hardline republic backs the EC peace plan. (AP Photo/Mato Piskor)
Member of the ''Arkan's Tigers'', Serb para-military group' stands over the bodies of three Croatian villagers whose throats were cut on November 24, 1991 at Laslovo, 18 kilometers from Osijek, capital of the occupied eastern Croatian province of Slavonia. eeljko Ražnatovic widely known as Arkan (April 17, 1952 - January 15, 2000), was a Serbian career criminal and later a paramilitary leader who was notable for organizing and leading a paramilitary force in the Yugoslav Wars. Arkan created a paramilitary group named the Serb Volunteer Guard under the auspices of the Yugoslav Peoples Army (JNA) general staff. Arkan was the leader of this newly founded unit, which was primarily made up of the football hooligans of his favourite club at the time, Red Star Belgrade. AFP PHOTO VINCENT AMALVY (Photo credit should read VINCENT AMALVY/AFP/Getty Images)
Serbian militia & Yugoslav Army tanks returning Croatian mortar & sniper fire, in civil war, re ethnic Serbs opposing living in independent Croatia. (Photo by Cynthia Johnson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Members of the ''Arkan's Tigers'', Serb para-military group', patrol on November 24, 1991 at Laslovo, 18 kilometers from Osijek, capital of the occupied eastern Croatian province of Slavonia. eeljko Ražnatovic widely known as Arkan (April 17, 1952 - January 15, 2000), was a Serbian career criminal and later a paramilitary leader who was notable for organizing and leading a paramilitary force in the Yugoslav Wars. Arkan created a paramilitary group named the Serb Volunteer Guard under the auspices of the Yugoslav Peoples Army (JNA) general staff. Arkan was the leader of this newly founded unit, which was primarily made up of the football hooligans of his favourite club at the time, Red Star Belgrade. AFP PHOTO VINCENT AMALVY (Photo credit should read VINCENT AMALVY/AFP/Getty Images)
Serbian soldiers shell Croatian targets from their positions on the Obrovac heights 09 February 1993. Obrovac is 70 kms (43 miles) from Knin, the capital of the Serb-held Krajina region. (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Serbian militia & Yugoslav Army tanks returning Croatian mortar & sniper fire, in civil war, re ethnic Serbs opposing living in independent Croatia. (Photo by Cynthia Johnson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
CROATIA - CIRCA 1992: War of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Vukovar (Croatia), besieged by the Serbs, March 1992. (Photo by Francoise De Mulder/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)
Croatian soldiers display ex-Yugoslavian army hand grenades (L) anti tanks rocket (R) in an army warehouse on May 05, 1995 in Pakrac, during a battle with Serbian forces. UN cease-fire Between Croatians and Serbian forces was arranged on January 2, 1992. The UN Security Council in February approved sending a 14,000-member peace-keeping force to monitor the agreement and protect the minority Serbs in Croatia. In a 1993 referendum, the Serb-occupied portion of Croatia (Krajina) resoundingly voted for integration with Serbs in Bosnia and Serbia proper. Although the Zagreb government and representatives of Krajina signed a cease-fire in March 1994, further negotiations broke down. In a lightning-quick operation, the Croatian army retook western Slavonia in May 1995. Similarly, in August, the central Croatian region of Krajina, held by Serbs, was returned to Zagreb's control. AFP PHOTO JOEL ROBINE (Photo credit should read JOEL ROBINE/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this 1997 file photo, former Yugoslavia President Slobodan Milosevic waves to his supporters, in Belgrade, Serbia. The International Court of Justice will rule today in a genocide dispute between Croatia and Serbia stemming from the 1991-95 war between two Balkan rivals. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)
Milorad Dodik President of the Republika of Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, left speaks as Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic looks on during an media conference in Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The United Nations’ top court ruled Tuesday that Serbia and Croatia did not commit genocide against each other’s people during the bloody 1990s wars sparked by the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic speaks during an media conference in Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The United Nations’ top court ruled Tuesday that Serbia and Croatia did not commit genocide against each other’s people during the bloody 1990's wars sparked by the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Presiding judge Peter Tomka, center, of Slovakia, accompanied by judges, starts reading the World Court's decision in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 as the International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court, is ruling on whether Croatia and Serbia committed genocide during the wars sparked by the breakup off the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Croatia has accused Serbia of genocide early in the wars and Serbia in turn claims that Croat forces were responsible for genocide in a 1995 campaign to retake territory held by rebel Serbs. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, center speaks as Milorad Dodik President of the Republika of Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina looks on during an media conference in Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The United Nations’ top court ruled Tuesday that Serbia and Croatia did not commit genocide against each other’s people during the bloody 1990s wars sparked by the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Croatia's Minister of Justice Orsat Miljenic, right, and Agent Vesna Crnic-Grotic, left, wait for the start of the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court, is ruling on whether Croatia and Serbia committed genocide during the wars sparked by the breakup off the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Croatia has accused Serbia of genocide early in the wars and Serbia in turn claims that Croat forces were responsible for genocide in a 1995 campaign to retake territory held by rebel Serbs. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Serbia's Minister of Justice Nikola Selkovic, foreground, takes his seat prior to the start of the World Court session in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court, is ruling on whether Croatia and Serbia committed genocide during the wars sparked by the breakup off the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Croatia has accused Serbia of genocide early in the wars and Serbia in turn claims that Croat forces were responsible for genocide in a 1995 campaign to retake territory held by rebel Serbs. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Milorad Dodik President of the Republika of Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, center speaks as Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic looks on during an media conference in Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The United Nations’ top court ruled Tuesday that Serbia and Croatia did not commit genocide against each other’s people during the bloody 1990s wars sparked by the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Members of the delegations of Croatia, left, and Serbia, right, stand up as judges enter the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court, is ruling on whether Croatia and Serbia committed genocide during the wars sparked by the breakup off the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Croatia has accused Serbia of genocide early in the wars and Serbia in turn claims that Croat forces were responsible for genocide in a 1995 campaign to retake territory held by rebel Serbs. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Croatia's Minister of Justice Orsat Miljenic, foreground, and Agent Vesna Crnic-Grotic, left, wait for the start of the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court, is ruling on whether Croatia and Serbia committed genocide during the wars sparked by the breakup off the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Croatia has accused Serbia of genocide early in the wars and Serbia in turn claims that Croat forces were responsible for genocide in a 1995 campaign to retake territory held by rebel Serbs. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Serbia's Minister of Justice Nikola Selkovic, left, Ambassador Petar Vico, center, and Agent Sasha Obradovic, wait for the judges to enter the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court, is ruling on whether Croatia and Serbia committed genocide during the wars sparked by the breakup off the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Croatia has accused Serbia of genocide early in the wars and Serbia in turn claims that Croat forces were responsible for genocide in a 1995 campaign to retake territory held by rebel Serbs. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Croatia's Justice Minister Orsat Miljenic, left, shakes hands with his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selkovic prior to a session of the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court, is ruling on whether Croatia and Serbia committed genocide during the wars sparked by the breakup off the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Croatia has accused Serbia of genocide early in the wars and Serbia in turn claims that Croat forces were responsible for genocide in a 1995 campaign to retake territory held by rebel Serbs. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Croatia's Minister of Justice Orsat Miljenic, second left, and Croatia's agent to the court Vesna Crnic-Grotic, left, wait for the start of the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court, is ruling on whether Croatia and Serbia committed genocide during the wars sparked by the breakup off the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Croatia has accused Serbia of genocide early in the wars and Serbia in turn claims that Croat forces were responsible for genocide in a 1995 campaign to retake territory held by rebel Serbs. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Croatia's Justice Minister Orsat Miljenic, left, shakes hands with his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selkovic prior to a session of the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court, is ruling on whether Croatia and Serbia committed genocide during the wars sparked by the breakup off the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Croatia has accused Serbia of genocide early in the wars and Serbia in turn claims that Croat forces were responsible for genocide in a 1995 campaign to retake territory held by rebel Serbs. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A photographer waits for the judges to enter the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court, is ruling on whether Croatia and Serbia committed genocide during the wars sparked by the breakup off the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Croatia has accused Serbia of genocide early in the wars and Serbia in turn claims that Croat forces were responsible for genocide in a 1995 campaign to retake territory held by rebel Serbs. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Justice Ministers Orsat Miljenic (L) of Croatia and Nikola Selkovic (R) of Serbia attend on February 3, 2015 the verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in a long-running genocide case, seen as a landmark decision that could re-open old wounds between former foes Croatia and Serbia. Zagreb in 1999 dragged Belgrade before the ICJ on genocide charges relating to Croatia's war of independence that raged in 1991-95 following the collapse of the former Yugoslavia. Serbia was accused of ethnic cleansing as a 'form of genocide' at the time, leading to large numbers of Croats being displaced, killed or tortured and their property being destroyed. AFP PHOTO / ANP / ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN - netherlands out - (Photo credit should read ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
From left: Croatians Jana Spero of the Justice Ministry, Andreja Metelko-Zgombic representing the Justice Ministry, University of Rijeka professor Vesna Crnic-Grotic and Justice Minister Orsat Miljenic sit on February 3, 2015 in the courtroom of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague as the UN's highest courtbefore started to hand down its verdict in a long-running genocide case, seen as a landmark decision that could re-open old wounds between former foes Croatia and Serbia. Zagreb in 1999 dragged Belgrade before the ICJ on genocide charges relating to Croatia's war of independence that raged in 1991-95 following the collapse of the former Yugoslavia. Serbia was accused of ethnic cleansing as a 'form of genocide' at the time, leading to large numbers of Croats being displaced, killed or tortured and their property being destroyed. AFP PHOTO / ANP / ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN - netherlands out - (Photo credit should read ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
From left: Serbian Justice Minister Nikola Selkovic, ambassador Petar Vico and Sasa Obradovic of the delegation of Serbia sit on February 3, 2015 in the courtroom of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague as the UN's highest courtbefore started to hand down its verdict in a long-running genocide case, seen as a landmark decision that could re-open old wounds between former foes Croatia and Serbia. Zagreb in 1999 dragged Belgrade before the ICJ on genocide charges relating to Croatia's war of independence that raged in 1991-95 following the collapse of the former Yugoslavia. Serbia was accused of ethnic cleansing as a 'form of genocide' at the time, leading to large numbers of Croats being displaced, killed or tortured and their property being destroyed. AFP PHOTO / ANP / ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN - netherlands out - (Photo credit should read ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
From left: Croatians Jana Spero of the Justice Ministry, University of Rijeka professor Vesna Crnic-Grotic and Justice Minister Orsat Miljenic sit on February 3, 2015 in the courtroom of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague as the UN's highest courtbefore started to hand down its verdict in a long-running genocide case, seen as a landmark decision that could re-open old wounds between former foes Croatia and Serbia. Zagreb in 1999 dragged Belgrade before the ICJ on genocide charges relating to Croatia's war of independence that raged in 1991-95 following the collapse of the former Yugoslavia. Serbia was accused of ethnic cleansing as a 'form of genocide' at the time, leading to large numbers of Croats being displaced, killed or tortured and their property being destroyed. AFP PHOTO / ANP / ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN - netherlands out - (Photo credit should read ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A young boy plays near a wall pocked by shrapnel and bullet holes in the Sarajevo frontline neighborhood of Mojmilo, which has come under heavy attack by Bosnian Serb forces since the war began in April 1992, Monday Sept. 25, 1995. Peace talks between Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia scheduled to take place in New York on Tuesday have stalled as Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey has been instructed by President Izetbegovic to boycott the talks. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Arzt)
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- The United Nations' top court ruled Tuesday that Serbia and Croatia did not commit genocide against each other's people during the bloody 1990s wars sparked by the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

The ruling could help put to rest lingering animosities between the Balkan neighbors.

The International Court of Justice said Serb forces committed widespread crimes in Croatia early in the war, but they did not amount to genocide. The 17-judge panel then ruled that a 1995 Croat offensive to win back territory from rebel Serbs also featured serious crimes, but did not reach the level of genocide.

Fighting in Croatia from 1991-95 left around 10,000 people dead and forced millions from their homes.

Tuesday's decision was not unexpected, as the U.N.'s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, a separate court also based in The Hague, has never charged any Serbs or Croats with genocide in one another's territory.

Croatia brought the case to the world court in 1999, asking judges to order Belgrade to pay compensation. Serbia later filed a counterclaim, alleging genocide by Croat forces during the 1995 "Operation Storm" military campaign.

Rejecting both cases, court President Peter Tomka stressed that many crimes happened during fighting between Serbia and Croatia and urged Belgrade and Zagreb to work together toward a lasting reconciliation.

"The court encourages the parties to continue their cooperation with a view to offering appropriate reparation to the victims of such violations," Tomka told a packed Great Hall of Justice at the court's Hague headquarters, the Peace Palace.

Decisions by the International Court of Justice are final and legally binding.

Tomka said crimes including killings and mass expulsions by both sides constituted elements of the crime of genocide, but the judges ruled that neither Serbia nor Croatia carried out the crimes with the "specific intent" to destroy targeted populations.

Serbian Justice Minister Nikola Selkovic said the decision would usher in "a much better page in our bilateral relations," but his Croatian counterpart, Orsat Miljenic, was not so sure and urged Belgrade to do more to prosecute suspected war criminals.

"I don't see it as any changing or breakthrough moment," Miljenic told reporters at the court. "We are neighbors. We have to cooperate in as many areas as possible."

The case brought by Croatia was not the first time Serbia had faced allegations of genocide at the world court.

In a landmark 2007 judgment, judges cleared Belgrade of committing genocide in the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, but said Serbia breached the genocide convention by failing to prevent the slaughter, Europe's worst mass slaying since World War II.

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