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Croatian Lawmakers Back 1991 War

October 14, 2000

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) _ After a two-day turbulent debate, the Croatian parliament adopted a resolution early Saturday that reaffirms the legitimacy of the country’s 1991 war for independence.

The resolution should help diminish protests from war veterans and the former ruling party of the late President Franjo Tudjman, who have been attacking the new government since mid-September when police arrested a dozen Croats suspected of committing war crimes during the 1991 war and later fighting in neighboring Bosnia.

Protesters, who later were joined by a few generals, soccer players and even won indirect support from the church, had complained that the prosecution of Croats for war crimes tarnished all Croat fighters.

Under immense pressure, parliament agreed to discuss the issue. The resolution was eventually accepted by an overwhelming majority, including member of Tudjman’s party.

The resolution, however, emphasized that the Croatian judiciary ``is obliged to prosecute all potential cases of individual war crimes ... applying principles of individual, and not collective guilt.″

The 1991 war was triggered by Serbs in Croatia who rebelled against Croatia’s declaration of independence from the former Yugoslavia. Backed by the Yugoslav army, Serbs seized a third of Croatia, expelling non-Serbs from these areas. More than 10,000 people died in the war.

Although Croats made up the vast majority of the victims in the fighting, independent reports show that Serb civilians were slain too.

The declaration said Croatia’s 1991 war ``was righteous, legitimate, defensive and not aggressive or conquering, in which the country defended its territory from Serbian aggressors within the internationally recognized borders.″

Only four rightist lawmakers voted against the resolution.

Satisfied with the resolution, Tudjman’s party withdrew its motion of a non-confidence vote against Prime Minister Ivica Racan and Interior Minister Sime Lucin.

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