A former Croatian army general awaiting trial for war crimes has won the top prize in a local wine competition.

General Ivan Cermak owns a vineyard near the picturesque farming town of Bedekovcina, northeast of Zagreb. The town has an annual wine competition, and this week Cermak’s wine took first prize.

The wine is a light white Muscat, a popular style in a region where over 90% of production is white and made for drinking young.

Cermak, along with another former general, is awaiting trial in the Hague for seven charges of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war, including murder, persecution and ‘inhumane acts’.

The crimes are alleged to have taken place in 1995 when Cernak ran the rebel stronghold of Knin in the south of the country.

In Croatia the general is something of a national hero, and has the full support of the Croatian government. As he left for the Hague in March this year, around 200 supporters sang the national anthem at Zagreb airport to bid him farewell.

It is not known if the wine competition was a blind tasting or an open-label judging.

Written by Penny Boothman