THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal overturned the convictions of two Croat generals on Friday for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against Serb civilians in a 1995 military blitz.
The decision, by a 3-2 majority in the five judge appeals chamber, is one of the most significant reversals in the court's 18-year history and overturns a verdict that dealt a blow to Croatia's self-image as a victim of atrocities, rather than a perpetrator, during the Balkan wars in the 1990s.
Neither Ante Gotovina nor Mladen Markac showed any emotion at the decision, but their supporters in the court's packed public gallery cheered and clapped as Presiding Judge Theodor Meron ordered both men freed immediately. On a lawn outside the tribunal, supporters sang, waved a Croat flag and sipped champagne.
The generals were returned to their jail cells to complete release paperwork before being flown back to Croatia, likely Friday afternoon.