THE HAGUE: A UN court acquitted on Friday Croatian ex-generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac of war crimes during the bloody 1990s break-up of Yugoslavia, to shouts and tears of joy from their supporters and outrage in Serbia.

The packed public gallery at International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) erupted in cheers and applause as Judge Theodor Meron read the acquittal.

Many people burst out in tears and hugged Markac's wife, Mirjana, who was at the hearing, as supporters outside uncorked bottles.

But Serbia, which still has military and political leaders including Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic on trial at the court, was furious over the acquittal.

“The UN war crimes court has lost all credibility,” minister Rasim Ljajic, responsible for the country's cooperation with the tribunal, told the Beta news agency. “Today's decision is proof of selective justice which is worse than any injustice,” he said.

Gotovina and Markac, considered heroes in Croatia, were last year jailed for 24 and 18 years respectively for the murder of Croatian Serbs during their country's struggle for independence and the bloody, ethnically driven break-up of Yugoslavia. —AFP

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