The UN's highest court on Tuesday rejected rival claims of genocide by Croatia and Serbia in landmark rulings over their 1991-1995 war, and urged the former foes to turn the page on their bloody history.
According Judge Peter Tomka both countries committed many crimes during the conflict. But it has not been proven that any of the countries had the intention to commit genocide by destroying a population in whole or in part, he said.
The case in the ICJ Court is one of many legal processes in the aftermath of the wars in Yugoslavia. More than 100,000 people were killed in what is the bloodiest conflict in Europe since World War II.
Croatia drew Serbia to court in 1999 with accusations of that Serb forces was guilty of genocide during the war that raged between 1991 and 1995.
They asked for financial compensation from the Serbian authorities.
Serbian authorities responded to the accusations of pulling Croatia to court in 2010 on charges of genocide. They believe 200,000 ethnic Serbs were forced to flee when Croatia started its counteroffensive.
So far the ICJ, which rules in disputes between states, has recognised only one genocide case since opening its doors in 1946.
Genocide is the most serious of international crimes but also the hardest to prove.
In 2007 the court ruled that genocide had taken place in 1995, at Srebrenica in neighbouring Bosnia, when almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered and their bodies dumped in mass graves by Bosnian Serb troops that overran a UN-protected enclave.
Simultaneously it concluded that Serbia could not be held responsible for the genocide, but that its forces could have stopped the massacre.
The decisions in the current case, which was heard in March last year, were reached by a 17-judge bench.
Both Belgrade and Zagreb had said ahead of the verdict that they would accept the ruling.
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