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CROATIA

Tribunal overturns generals’ convictions

THE HAGUE — The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has overturned the convictions of two Croat generals for murdering and illegally expelling Serb civilians in a 1995 military blitz, and both men returned home to a hero’s welcome.

Friday’s decision, by a 3-2 majority in the U.N. court’s five-judge appeals chamber, is one of the most significant reversals in the court’s 18-year history and overturns a verdict that had dealt a blow to Croatia’s self-image as a victim of atrocities, rather than a perpetrator, during the Balkan wars in the 1990s.

The ruling triggered scenes of rapture in court and among Croat war veterans watching the ruling on big screens in the capital, Zagreb, but also produced fury in Serbia, where it was seen as further evidence of anti-Serb bias at the tribunal.

Neither Gen. Ante Gotovina nor Gen. Mladen Markac showed any emotion as Presiding Judge Theodor Meron told them they were free men, but their supporters in the court’s packed public gallery cheered and clapped.

Gens. Gotovina and Markac had been sentenced to 24 and 18 years, respectively, in 2011 for crimes that included murder and deportation. Judges had ruled that both men were part of a criminal conspiracy led by former Croat President Franjo Tudjman to expel Serbs.

ITALY

Police block websitefor white supremacists

ROME — Italian police have blocked access to a white supremacist website and arrested four people who they say incited racial hatred and spread anti-Semitism.

Authorities on Friday blocked Stormfront, a white supremacist website based in the U.S., and shut down its Italian-language forum.

They also confiscated knives, batons and baseball bats as well neo-Nazi and Fascist propaganda, including pamphlets and banners emblazoned with swastikas, in searches of properties mostly in northeastern Italy.

Prosecutors in Rome launched the investigation after the group published blacklists of religious leaders, politicians, journalists and judges citing their support of immigrants. They also published lists of prominent Jewish citizens.

The four were arrested in the northern city of Milan and in Frosinone and Pescara in central Italy.

From wire dispatches and staff reports