The accused generals are protesting against the latest action by the Croatian authorities to locate the documents sought by the prosecution. The defense teams asked the Trial Chamber to order the Croatian authorities to immediately cease all such current and future activities. Reminding the defense that an order of this kind can be issued ‘in exceptional circumstances’, the judges postponed their decision until tomorrow, when the prosecution and the Republic of Croatia are to explain their actions in the search for the documents

Ivan Čermak se danas nalazio sam u sudnici TribunalaIvan Čermak se danas nalazio sam u sudnici Tribunala

The trial of the Croatian generals charged with crimes against Serbs during and after Operation Storm didn’t continue as planned with the cross-examination of former special policeman from Varazdin Drazen Vitez. Two of the three accused failed to appear in the courtroom. Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac remained in the UN Detention Unit refusing to attend the hearing today. As their defense explained, Gotovina and Markac were protesting against the latest actions of the Croatian authorities aimed at locating the documents the OTP has been looking for for some time now. General Cermak didn’t appear to share their concern and decided to attend the trial as usual.

In their motion filed last night and the arguments they presented to the Trial Chamber today, Gotovina’s defense stated that the Croatian authorities had launched a coordinated action yesterday, in which a number of documents and three computers had been confiscated from the defense’s office in Zagreb. Some people working for the defense were detained, including Marin Ivanovic. Gotovina’s defense argued that now their documents had been taken, they could no longer guarantee the security of the information declared confidential by the Trial Chamber. The Croatian authorities now have access to the communication between Gotovina and his defense counsel. This is a violation of the right to the client-counsel privilege, the defense argued, adding that they could no longer prepare for their work.

Gotovina’s defense asked the Trial Chamber to order the Croatian authorities to immediately suspend all further actions, to suspend any judicial proceedings against Marin Ivanovic (who had previously been charged with hiding and/or destroying documents similar to the ones now sought by the prosecution), to cease the examination of confiscated computers and documents and all future searches. This moratorium should remain in force ‘until the Trial Chamber has issued new orders’ dealing with the new developments. Markac’s defense joined this motion.

The defense also requested that a subpoena be issued to ICTY chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz and to the Croatian public prosecutor Mladen Bajic, compelling them to appear in the courtroom on 16 December 2009. According to the defense, Brammertz and Bajic should respond to the defense’s claims that Croatia launched the action to locate the documents on Brammertz’s orders. A hearing on the missing artillery logbooks is scheduled for that date and Croatian representatives have been invited to attend.

Presiding judge Orie said that the situation is ‘potentially very serious’ if the defense claims prove to be true. He stressed that the Trial Chamber would first deal with the most urgent motion filed by the defense demanding an immediate cessation of any further action of the Croatian authorities. The prosecution was ordered to reply to the defense motion by noon tomorrow. At 2 p.m., there should be a hearing where the Croatian representatives would be allowed to participate.

After the end of the debate on the latest actions of the Croatian authorities, the cross-examination of defense witness Drazen Vitez began.