The defense teams of generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac believe that the prosecution failed to present valid arguments against their motion for the acquittal of the three accused on all charges. In the words of Gotovina’s defense counsel, the prosecution argument on the joint criminal enterprise is a ‘legal hodgepodge’ in which different allegations are mixed up on a wrong basis

Payam Akhavan, branilac Ante GotovinePayam Akhavan, branilac Ante Gotovine

Ante Gotovina’s defense counsel contend that in its rebuttal yesterday the prosecution failed to contest the defense claim that the court had heard no evidence that might lead to a conviction. The accused generals should therefore be acquitted on all counts in the indictment for crimes committed during and after Operation Storm in the summer of 1995. Today in the defense’s rejoinder, defense counsel Akhavan called the prosecution’s argument on the alleged joint criminal enterprise aimed at the expulsion of Serbs from Krajina a ‘legal hodgepodge’ in which different allegations were mixed up on wrong foundations.

Gotovina’s defense today once again focused mostly on allegations about the unlawful shelling of Knin and other Krajina towns. According to the indictment, one of the elements of the plan was to cause fear among the population and force them to flee.

Challenging the prosecution claim that 50 to 75 persons were killed in the shelling of Knin, defense counsel Akhavan said that ‘it would be nice’ if the prosecution identified the alleged victims and prove they were not soldiers. There is no evidence, the defense contends, the victims were civilians killed in an unlawful attack and not RSK soldiers or ‘collateral civilian victims of a legitimate military operation’. The defense still claims that there is no evidence to prove there was an unlawful attack against Knin or that civilians died in the shelling. ‘This is the least tenable case in the history of the Tribunal in The Hague, with the weakest evidence on unlawful shelling of a town ever’, Akhavan concluded.

[IMAGE]1446[/IMAGE]Steven Kay, representing Ivan Cermak, once again noted that there was no evidence showing that the accused general, who was the Knin Garrison commander at the time, had effective control over the army and the military and civilian police after Operation Storm. As Kay alleged, only ‘non-operative tasks’ related to the normalization of life in Knin were in Cermak’s purview; the prosecution’s allegations about Cermak’s close ties President Tudjman didn’t change anything. Sometimes Cermak did operate outside of his de iure jurisdiction, Kay admitted, but as he put it, in those situations Cermak ‘did good things’ and ‘tried to prevent crimes’. Therefore, the defense believes that Cermak should not be convicted.

Mladen Markac’s defense believes that the prosecution failed to refute their argument that there was no unlawful shelling on the axes of attack where the special police was deployed – primarily in Gracac and Donji Lapac, and there was no looting there. Any crimes, defense counsel Kuzmanovic noted, happened after the special police troops left that area.

Today the defense teams repeated their call for the acquittal of all three generals on all nine counts in the indictment charging them with persecution, deportation, forcible transfer of Serb civilians, looting and destruction of abandoned Serb property, murder and inhuman treatment during and after Operation Storm in the summer of 1995.