The Trial Chamber issued a formal decision finding General Markac’s defense counsel "in a conflict of interest" because of his "personal interest" in the Operation Storm case. Also, it is highly likely that he will be called to testify. Separovic has persistently refused to withdraw from the case. Tomorrow he will be invited to explain why, in his view, the Trial Chamber should not institute proceedings against him for the violation of legal ethics

Miroslav Separovic in the courtroomMiroslav Separovic in the courtroom

Miroslav Separovic, a Zagreb attorney, has a personal interest in the Storm case that disqualifies him from being a legal representative of the accused Mladen Markac. This is the conclusion of the Trial Chamber in the case of the three Croatian generals charged with crimes against Serbian civilians in August and September 1995. Separovic was Croatian Justice Minister at the time of Operation Storm and it is highly likely he will be called to testify about his personal knowledge of events at the trial of Ante Gotovina, Mladen Markac and Ivan Cermak. The trial opens on 7 May 2007.

Separovic has refused to heed the three warnings issued by the Trial and Appeals Chamber in 2006 and 2007 regarding the potential conflict of interest and has refused to withdraw from the case. Today's decision states clearly that by doing so Separovic "threatened the interests of his client" and that his negligence violated the standards of professional ethics expected from the defense counsel appearing before the Tribunal.

Tomorrow's hearing will deal with the motions filed by General Gotovina's defense challenging the jurisdiction of the Tribunal and the form of the indictment in this case. Separovic will be invited to explain why the Trial Chamber should not consider his conduct as a violation of the defense counsel’s code of ethics and why it should consequently not institute proceedings against him under the relevant articles in the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and the Code of Professional Conduct for Defense Counsel Appearing before the Tribunal.