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Croatia Faces State Archive Demand

Tribunal prosecutors ask judges to order Zagreb to hand over military files in Gotovina trial.
By Goran Jungvirth
The Hague tribunal’s chief prosecutor has asked the trial chamber prosecuting three Croatian generals to issue an order compelling Croatia to supply material from its state archives.

Serge Brammertz submitted the application on June 13, to the trial chamber prosecuting Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac.

The Croatian generals are currently standing trial for war crimes committed during and after the Operation Storm offensive of August 1995, when the army retook parts of Croatia that had been occupied by Serb rebels since 1991.

In the submission, Brammertz said “Croatia has failed to produce military documents relevant to the artillery operations carried out during Operation Storm”, as well as documents relating to Markac’s special police units, despite prosecution requests dating back to November 2006.

The Office of the Prosecutor, OTP, has asked the trial chamber to order Croatia to deliver the papers in question within two weeks.

Although the Croatian authorities have had 18 months to find the documents, they have not handed them over, nor made sincere efforts to find them, said the prosecution.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor told reporters on June 17 that while Croatia was “sincerely and fully” cooperating with the United Nations court, the government could not surrender the documents because it did not have them.

“Of the 788 requests, the government has partly failed to meet only one that concerns documents we cannot find,” said Kosor, adding that the government had told prosecutors several times that the documents could not be traced.

“Several internal investigations have been carried out, the commissions are working, but for now there have been no results.”

The defence teams of the three generals are expected to respond next week.

Luka Misetic, Gotovina's lawyer, suggested that the prosecutors were already preparing for a defeat.

“[It is] a regular occurrence for the prosecution to create an alibi for acquittal,” said Misetic.

“Now…three months into the trial, to say that that the Croatian government is obstructing their work is simply shocking.”

The trial of the generals began on March 11, 2008.

Goran Jungvirth is an IWPR-trained journalist in Zagreb.

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