Three times as many Croatians have a positive view of the Hague Tribunal after Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac were acquitted of war crimes, an opinion poll suggested.Support for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY rose from 11 percent in December 2011 to 32 per cent in December last year when the poll was conducted, a month after wartime generals Gotovina and Markac were released.
According to the poll published on Friday by the GFK market research institute in Zagreb, the European Union, which Croatia is due to join on July 1 this year, lags far behind the ICTY, with only 22 per cent of popular support.
Support for the Croatian government is even weaker, running at a meagre 14 per cent.
Croatians prefer their police, the poll suggests, giving the force a 33 per cent approval rating, but the most popular institution in the country is the Church, on 52 per cent.
On November 16 last year, the ICTY’s appeals chamber acquitted Gotovina and Markac of all charges of war crimes committed during the Croatian military operation codenamed Storm in 1995.
They returned home to a hero’s welcome in Zagreb.
They had originally been sentenced to 24 and 18 years in prison in 2011 for taking part in a joint criminal enterprise alongside former Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and several more top officials to expel Serb civilians from Croatia during operation Storm.
A total of six Croatian army officers were indicted by the ICTY for war crimes but none of them were jailed: four were acquitted, one died, and the other was convicted by a court in Croatia.