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Subpoena Appeal Hearing

Tribunal Update 44: Last Week in The Hague (September 15-20, 1997)

The evidence includes documents which, the prosecution believes, would prove the participation of Croatia in Bosnian Croat operations in Central Bosnia in 1992 and 1993. Croatia has refused to comply with the request, claiming that it violates both its sovereignty and national security.

Following a two-day public hearing in April involving some 15 leading international law experts, and a three-month-long deliberation, the court finally concluded that the Tribunal does indeed have inherent and express power to compel sovereign states to hand over evidence.

In its appeal (see Tribunal Update 39), Croatia claims that the court has exceeded the Tribunal's lawful authority; that the authority to issue compulsory orders to states is not inherent; and that the Tribunal does not have the power to judge or determine Croatia's national security claims.

In reply, the prosecution disputes not only Croatia's claims concerning the power and the authority of the Tribunal, but has also denied the right of Zagreb to lodge an appeal. The appeals chamber rejected the prosecution's objection that Croatia cannot be a party in this dispute, but accepted that the hearing deals not only with the merits, but also with the admissibility of the appeal itself.

The appeals chamber has invited various states, non-governmental organisations and individuals considered amicus curiae (friends of the court), to submit briefs concerning the right of the Tribunal to issue compulsory orders to sovereign states.

It was announced at the Tribunal last week that the governments of five countries have responded to the invitation: Norway, Canada and New Zealand, the Netherlands and the People's Republic of China.

In addition, briefs have been submitted by Professor Ruth Wedgwood of Yale Law School; Professor Alain Pellet of the University of Paris X-Nanterre on his own behalf and on behalf of Juristes sans Frontières; Professor Herwig Roggemann of the Free University of Berlin; Ms. Carol Elder Bruce, a member of the Bar of the District of Columbia; and Max Planck of the Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg.

A brief was also submitted by the American Law Firm Hunton & Williams as legal counsel for the Republic of Croatia.

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