The defense of Ante Gotovina, unhappy with the Trial Chamber’s decision giving ‘free rein’ to the Croatian authorities to continue investigating defense team members suspected of hiding and/or destroying documents from state archives, today sought leave to appeal. Markac’s former deputy Zeljko Sacic started his evidence in closed session

Ante Gotovina’s defense today sought leave to appeal against the decision of the Trial Chamber of 15 March 2010, in which it denied their motion
for a permanent restraining order directed to Croatia to cease all investigative steps against any members of the defense team. In December 2009, Croatian authorities in their search for the HV artillery logbooks from Operation Storm confiscated computers and documents belonging to several members of Gotovina’s defense team. Even before that, some members of the defense team were prosecuted for hiding and/or destroying documentation from state archives.

The defense contends that the Trial Chamber’s decision has had a negative impact on "fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings". An immediate decision of the Appeals Chamber would "materially advance the proceedings’, the defense argues; if this criterion is met, an interlocutory appeal may be lodged.

The defense lawyers noted that the Trial Chamber in its decision stated it is aware that "the searches conducted against the defense team members may present a practical obstacles for their performance". According to the defense, the Trial Chamber thus admitted in a way the ‘fairness and expeditiousness of the trial’ might be jeopardized. If the Appeals Chamber could rule on the appeal as soon as possible, any future controversies related to the investigations of the defense team members might be forestalled, the defense argued. This issue has already disrupted the proceedings, the defense went on.

The Trial Chamber’s decision imposed some restrictions on Croatia for the inspection of confiscated documents. Gotovina’s defense lawyers Misetic and Kehoe obviously do not consider those restrictions are sufficient to protect the rights and interests of the accused. The judges ordered Croatia to refrain from inspecting documents protected by lawyer-client privilege and materials the defense prepared for the trial, and to keep under seal all information on protected witnesses gathered during the inspection of confiscated material.

The trial of generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac continued today in closed session with the testimony of Zeljko Sacic, assistant to the special police commander Mladen Markac. Many witnesses, both prosecution and defense, spoke about Sacic in the context of the cover-up of the crime in the village of Grubori. In late August 1995, five elderly Serbs were killed there. Judge Orie indicated today that Sacic would continue his evidence next week, ‘mostly’ in closed session. Gotovina, Cermak and Markac are charged with their role in the joint criminal enterprise aimed at expelling Serbs from Krajina during and after Operation Storm in 1995.