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Prosecutor Oppose Defence Role for Croatian State

(TU No 471, 06-Oct-06)
Generals Ivan Cermak, Mladen Markac and Ante Gotovina are accused of participating in a joint criminal enterprise during and after Operation Storm – a Croatian military operation launched in August 1995 to reclaim the Serb-held Krajina region.

The indictment alleges that former Croatian president Franjo Tudjman, former defence minister Gojko Susak and other Croatian officials also formed part of the joint criminal enterprise, whose objective was “the permanent removal of the Serb population from the Krajina region” by force and persecution.

In its application earlier this month, the Croatian government said it wished to “assist in the determination of the truth” regarding the allegation that the members of the country’s political and leadership were part of a joint criminal enterprise.

Rule 74 of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence which governs amicus curiae submissions says that if the chamber “considers it desirable for the proper determination of the case, [it may] invite or grant leave to a state, organisation or person, to appear before it and make submissions on any issue specified by the chamber”.

On October 2, the prosecution responded to Croatia’s application to appear as amicus curiae in the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac cases. In a response signed by senior trial attorney Alan Tieger, prosecutors said that allowing Croatia’s request would set a precedent for other parties to ask to be allowed to appear as amicus curiae before the tribunal.

“Such a basis for amicus status would dictate admission of any third party who could make the same general claim,” said the statement.

The prosecution argues that Croatia does not meet the criteria required to appear as amicus curiae under the tribunal’s rules. Croatia’s request is unclear on which matters it wishes to intervene on, it wants to “make submissions on broad questions of fact”, some of the interventions requested are “irrelevant”, and there is no statement of what Croatia could contribute that the defendants could not raise themselves, said the response, adding that “applicant does not demonstrate sufficient impartiality”.

Gotovina’s defence counsel, Luka Misetic, supports Croatia’s request. In a response this week he said, "Croatia has a clear interest in ensuring the accuracy of the historical record."

He denies that the state is biased towards the defendants, and says, “Although the interests of Croatia and the defendants are aligned in many respects, the defendants are not Croatia’s attorneys in this proceeding.”

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