Verdict due for Croatian ex-general

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The UN's Yugoslav war crimes court said Monday it would reach a verdict next month in the trial of Croatian ex-general Ante Gotovina for the alleged persecution of Serbs in the 1990s.

"The pronouncement of the judgment in the present case shall take place on Friday, April 15," states an order of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

In August 2010, prosecutors sought a 27-year jail term for Gotovina, 55, an ex-commander of the Croatian Army, accusing him of having sought the "permanent removal of the Serb population from the Krajina region in Croatia".

With Mladen Markac, 55, and Ivan Cermak, 62, Gotovina is accused of aiding and abetting the murders of Krajina Serb civilians and prisoners of war by "shooting, burning and/or stabbing" them.

The prosecution says 324 Serbs were killed and about 90,000 forcibly displaced.

Prosecutors have asked the court for a jail term of 23 years for Markac, a former commander of the special police of Croatia's interior ministry, and 17 years for Cermak, assistant defence minister from 1991 to 1993.

The three men have been on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity in The Hague since March 2008.

© 2011 AFP

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