Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac had their convictions for war crimes overturned by the UN's Yugoslav war crimes tribunal today.
The court's appeals chamber voted 3-2 that prosecutors at the generals' trials in 2011 had failed to establish their guilt.
The pair had been convicted of being part of a "criminal conspiracy" led by late leader Franjo Tudjman to expel Serbs from the Krajina region during the break-up of Yugoslavia.
Judges said there was no convincing evidence that the conspiracy existed, though they did not dispute that hundreds of Serbs were killed and around 200,000 fled the area during 1995's Operation Storm.
But Gen Gotovina's lawyer Greg Kehoe took the judgement as a sign of approval for the operation.
"Does this vindicate that operation as a proper and just attempt to bring back this land under Croatia? Of course," he said.
The ruling was ecstatically received in Croatia, where crowds celebrated in the streets of Zagreb.
But Serbia expressed fury at the decision. President Tomislav Nikolic said the "scandalous" decision was "political not legal" and would "reopen old wounds."
Serbia's official in charge of dealing with the tribunal Rasim Ljajic said it had "lost all credibility."
Many Serbs believe the court is biased, ignoring atrocities committed by the Croats during the 1990s wars.
During Operation Storm Gen Markac was in charge of "special police operations."
Gen Gotovina was a senior military commander who had previously fought in the French Foreign Legion and trained far-right paramilitaries in Latin America.
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