Croatia/Serbia: Gotovina ruling ‘opens old wounds’

You can see the video for this article here

The acquittals of General Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac for war crimes by a UN appeals court were greeted with jubilation in the streets of the Croatian capital, Zagreb, on Friday.

The successful appeal marks the biggest reversal for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia during its two decades of hearing cases involving the bloody breakup of the country.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic welcomed the decision, but conceded that there had been wrongdoing on his side:

“Obviously these are two innocent men but that does not mean that the war was not difficult, bloody and just as far as Croatia is concerned.

There were mistakes in that war, mistakes that the Croatian state is ultimately responsible for, not Markac and Gotovina. And for those, and to those, who were wronged by the Croatian state, Croatia will fulfil its debt to justice,” he said.

Shameful

But, Savo Strbac, the director of Serbian NGO “Veritas”, echoed the feelings of many of his countrymen.

“We are shocked by the verdict. I can freely say that it is shameful because I am a judge myself and I know how things work. This verdict is the result of a majority vote,” he said.

The Serbian President was also vocal in his opposition to the courts decision.

In a written statement Tomislav Nikolic said: “It is now quite clear the tribunal made a political decision and not a legal ruling. Today’s ruling will not contribute to the stabilisation of the situation in the region and will open old wounds.

If we had reasons to believe that the tribunal is neutral, fair and more than a court only for Serbia and its people, these reasons are now annulled with the acquittal of war criminals.”

Egyptian PM seeks Israel-Palestine ceasefire

You can see the video for this article on the euronews website here

The Egyptian Prime Minister has denounced Israel’s attacks on Gaza and says Cairo will try to secure a ceasefire.

Hisham Qandil paid a three-hour visit to the Palestinian territory on Friday, visiting the Council of Ministers building as well as a hospital treating those wounded by the attacks.

Cross-border fighting continued during the visit.

Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, has brokered informal truces between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza strip before.

The government of Egypt, which is seen as ideologically close to Hamas, now has to balance solidarity with the fellow Islamists with the country’s dependence on US aid, worth around 1.6 billion euros per year.

Qandil says Egypt seeks the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Russian handbook insults immigrants

You can see the video for this article on the euronews website here

What was intended to be a friendly guide for labour migrants to Russia, has instead been taken as an insult. The brochure gives practical advice on dealing with authorities, such as guards and police, but workers have taken exception to the fact that the booklet represents them as work tools.

The book was published by an NGO and distributed in the Russian, Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Tajik languages.

Alexander Shishlov the Human Rights Ombudsman in St. Petersburg said: “When migrant workers who come here from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and other countries are portrayed as spatulas, brushes and other tools, while all the other characters in the brochure are portrayed as people, this clearly sets people who live here against those who are visitors. And this comparison is insulting to a large degree.”

Outrage

The government of Tajikistan has formally asked Russian authorities to withdraw the handbook, but despite the book having been promoted on a Russian government website, authorities have denied any connection with its publication.

Gleb Panfilov, deputy head of the Look into the Future group that published the guide in St Petersburg said he could not understand the sudden public outrage, many months after its release. He claims to have consulted workers from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan while putting the book together aiming “to help labour migrants learn about their rights and avoid getting into trouble in this city”.

Hate crime

Activists say the book is another example of discrimination against the impoverished, mostly Muslim migrants who move to Russia and take on low-skilled work. The immigrants, many of whom have dark skins, have been the targets of hate crime in recent years.

This reached a peak in 2008 when 115 immigrants were killed and nearly 500 wounded, according to an independent watchdog. A police crackdown on neo-Nazi groups has helped to reduce racially motivated crimes, but numbers are said to be still high.

Russia: Navalny to lead protest movement

You can see the video for this article on the euronews website here

Anti-Putin blogger Alexai Navalny has been selected to lead the opposition movement and will now be tasked with turning mass street protests into more structured attack on the Russian President.

More than 81,000 people voted online to chose 45 new leaders, who it is hoped will unify protesters and give them direction.

Professional chess player Garry Kasparov and writer Dmitry Bykov were also popular choices and will join the opposition’s coordination council. Navalny was the outright winner with 43.723 votes.

It is reported the election had to be extended by a day due to cyber-attacks on the platform.

Putin has been the subject of spirited protests since returning to the presidency for a third time in May but the opposition candidates gained no ground in Russia’s regional elections on October 14.

Russian opposition leader detained

You can see the video for this story on the euronews website here

Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov has was led away by police on Wednesday morning, as authorities began criminal proceedings against him, and other associates, for planning “mass disorder” in protests against President Vladimir Putin.

The charges focus on allegations, made in a pro-Kremlin documentary, which claims Udaltsov received money and orders to cause mass unrest in Russia, from an ally of Georgian President Mikeil Saakashcili. The charges carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years.

The head of the investigation committee, Vladimir Markin, gave a warning to protest leaders:

“I would like to warn all of those who think that one can organise without consequences, massive disorders and terror attacks that threaten the life and health of civilians in our country. You don’t imagine how professional our special services are,and you don’t know our laws and our penal code.”

Udaltsov who has led a series of protests sanctioned by Moscow denies the allegations against him.

His supporters say the Kremlin is conducting a politically motivated crackdown on protest leaders.

Colombian government holds peace talk with FARC in Oslo

You can see the video for this story on the euronews website here

The Colombian government and Marxist rebels are set to hold peace talks in Norway aimed at ending nearly half a century of conflict.

President Juan Manuel Santos has made the latest attempt to negotiate a deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas after recent criticism on security issues, although there have been improvements over the last decade helped by a US backed offensive against the rebels and drug barons.

Before boarding the plane with the rest of his team in Bogota, the government’s chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, said he was optimistic.

“We don’t believe in false expectations but I think the structural elements exist that will allow us to have hope, and hopefully we will have good news for Columbia.”

There was a reported conflict over the composition of the FARC delegation especially the inclusion of Dutch National, Tanja Nijmeijer.

Interpol said Colombia had asked for the lifting of so-called “red-notices”, much like arrest warrants, on several FARC members, but Colombia only controls its own notices and Nijmeijer is also wanted in the US so it could not be lifted.

She is not therefore expected to attend the preliminary meetings in Norway but should be at the table when the talks move to Cuba shortly afterwards, where the focus is expected to be on land, drugs and political participation.

Philippines: Peace deal between government and Muslim rebels

You can see the video for this article on the euronews website here

The Philippine government has agreed a peace deal with Muslim rebels ending more than four decades of violent conflict.

The agreement represents a major breakthrough in trust between the authorities and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) separatists and sets in motion the creation of a new autonomous Bangsmoro region in the Muslim dominated south of the mostly Catholic country.

Bangsmoro refers to both the Muslim and non-Islamic people of the Southern Philippines.

The transition which should be completed by the end of President Benigno Aquino’s term in 2016 will give the Muslim area more political and economic powers, including a larger share in revenues from natural resources.

The conflict has stunted the Philippine economy and killed more than 120,000 people although recently the country has seen a recent growth spurt and a resurgence in investor interest.

It is hoped the long awaited new deal will now bring peace and free up untapped deposits of oil, gas and mineral resources in rebel areas.