Croatia. According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Croatia include Independence Day (May 30) and New Year (January 1). Former Croatian Serb leader Milan Babić committed suicide in March in his cell at the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Babić had ordered ethnic cleansing of Croats in the then Serbian-controlled outbreak state Krajina in Croatia 1991-92. He surrendered himself to the court in 2003 and was sentenced to thirteen years in prison for crimes against humanity. Babić had pleaded guilty and expressed great regret. During the war, Babić cooperated with Serbia’s leader Slobodan Milošević, but in 2002 he testified against his former ally before the UN tribunal. After his own verdict, he requested to serve his sentence in secret because he feared revenge actions from Milošević’s followers. At the time of his death, he was back in The Hague to testify against his successor in Krajina, Milan Martić.
In May, MP Branimir Glavas, a former member of the Nationalist Party HDZ, formed a new right-wing party, HDSSB, together with supporters.
In September, Parliament asserted Glava’s prosecution immunity and he was subsequently arrested, suspected of war crimes. He himself claimed that the charges were politically motivated and had to do with his break with the government party. According to the suspicions, Glavas would have ordered torture and murder of civilian Serbs in the city of Osijek during the war in the early 1990s. Glavas embarked on a hunger strike and was released from custody after just over a month when his life was considered in danger.
Six former soldiers were also arrested in September, suspected of war crimes in Osijek during the same period.
President of the Yugoslav Federal State Slobodan Milosovic stated that if the UN lifted its sanctions against Yugoslavia, it would be just a matter of months before peace would be restored in the Balkans. An agreement between Franjo Tudjman and the United States allowed the presence of an international force and its gradual withdrawal, assisted by NATO forces.
The Serbs suffered their worst defeat in early August following the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. The Krajina enclave is conquered by the Croats, forcing Serbian civilians and military to flee.
There were charges of torture and assault against the Croats who occupied Krajina. Around 250,000 Serbs joined the already more than 700,000 Balkan refugees. The occupation of the Krajina by the Croats was considered to be one of the biggest “ethnic cleansing” of the war. Until May 1996, only 8 Croats had been prosecuted at the Criminal Court in The Hague.
Representatives of the Croatian government and East Slavonic leaders agreed in October on the principles of restoring peace in the area. Tudjman won the election on October 29, but did not achieve the 2/3 majority he needed to introduce a new constitution and thus confer more powers to the president.
The drafting of an agreement between the presidents of Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, at an air base near Dayton, in the US, marked the cessation of direct war actions, although there were still confrontations between the people and UN and NATO soldiers.
Negotiations between Zagreb and Belgrade at the end of August 1996 opened for the return of refugees. Tudjman, who was accused of obstructing the deal, accepted that a limited number of Serbian Croats could re-establish themselves in his country. He was re-elected in June 1997 with 61.4% of the vote. At the end of 1997 and early 1998, new accusations were made of attacks by Croats during the counter-offensive that led to Krajina’s fall.