The Hague Tribunal (ICTY) verdict in the case against six wartime Bosnian Croat leaders “will affect relations between the two countries and the two peoples.”

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said this on Wednesday, in the first reaction by a Serbian official.

Earlier in the day, the ICTY Appeals Chamber upheld the sentences for all six former senior officials of the so-called Croat Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia – a Croat entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1990s – and the Croat Defense Council (HVO) accused in the Prlic et al. case, handing them a total of 111 years in prison for their participation in a joint criminal enterprise led by the leadership of Croatia.

RTS reported that Vulin said Serbia’s “highest interest” was peace and stability, and the Serb people enjoying all the rights guaranteed to them.

“For the Serbs, the most important thing is that this ruling in no way refers to us. It certainly does show what was going on between the Croats and the Muslims (Bosniaks) in those places where they weren’t allied – and where they were allies, nobody punished them for the crimes committed against the Serbs. That leaves the deepest impression,” the minister said.

According to him, judging by the Hague Tribunal – crimes have occurred against the Croats and the Muslims, “only nobody committed any crimes against the Serbs.”

“The Hague Tribunal deserves no respect, because it never accepted that the Serbs were the victims in the war, and never managed to come up with justice for them,” Vulin stressed.

The Hague Tribunal last week passed its final first-instance ruling in the trial against Mladic, and on Wednesday ended its work with the Appeals Chamber judgment in the Prlic et al. case. The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals will continue to perform some of the tribunal’s functions.

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