The Trial Chamber confirmed and provided the reasoning for its last week’s decision ordering Croatia to suspend its inspection of the documents and computers seized from Gotovina’s defense team members. The Trial Chamber dismissed the defense’s motion to prohibit any further searches undertaken that might be conducted in order to find the missing artillery documents

Chamber of the TribunalChamber of the Tribunal

In the statement of reasons for the last week’s decision ordering the Croatian authorities to suspend their inspection of confiscated documents, the Trial Chamber hearing the case against the Croatian generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac reiterated that any further actions of that kind might violate the counsel-client privilege. In its today’s decision, the Trial Chamber notes that even though the defense has not been able to confirm whether any privileged information was contained in the seized documents and computers, it was highly likely that there was such information there.

On Wednesday, 9 December 2009, the police searched the apartments, offices and cars of several persons suspected of hiding and destroying the materials from the archives. Some of them were detained and interviewed. Two current and one former member of Gotovina’s defense were among those searched and detained.

The Trial Chamber provided the reasoning for its decision to suspend the inspection of the confiscated documents and items, but at the same time, the judges dismissed the defense motion to order the suspension of all future searches that might be directed against members and associates of Gotovina’s and Markac’s defense teams. In the decision, the judges say that the defense failed to provide enough facts to indicate that their associates may face future searches. If the searches do occur, the defense teams may address the Trial Chamber again and call for the suspension of any inspection of confiscated documents and items, just as they did last week. The Croatian authorities were thus allowed to continue their search for artillery documents. Pursuant to the order of the Trial Chamber from September 2008, the Croatian authorities are obliged to deliver those documents to the OTP.

With this decision, the Trial Chamber dismissed Gotovina’s defense motion to order the Croatian authorities to cease all their actions against Marin Ivanovic. Ivanovic, who is on Gotovina’s defense team, was accused earlier of hiding and/or destroying documents similar to those sought by the OTP.

Generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac are on trial for their role in the joint criminal enterprise aimed at the expulsion of Serbs from Krajina during and after Operation Storm in 1995. The indictment alleges indiscriminate and excessive shelling of Knin and other places in Krajina as a charge. The evidence of that, the prosecution contends, is contained in the missing artillery documents.