The prosecution rested its case at the trial of Croatian generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac after more than two and half years and 145 witnesses. The evidentiary stage is now finished, with a small caveat that either party may seek leave to call ‘additional’ evidence. If there are no such motions, the prosecution and the defense will deliver their closing arguments in the second half of August or in early September 2010

All pending administrative issues were settled at the hearing today, and then the presiding judge Orie, from Holland, declared the end of the evidentiary stage at the trial of Croatian generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac. The trial began on 11 March 2008 and in more than two years, the court was in session on 303 working days. Out of a total of 145 witnesses, the prosecution called 81 witnesses and the defense 57 witnesses. The Trial Chamber has called seven witnesses.

The presiding judge noted today that ‘it would not be surprising’ if either side asked leave to re-open their case after the Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber have ruled on pending motions. The decisions are expected in the weeks to come, and among them is the decision on Gotovina’s appeal against the decision rejecting his motion to order the EU to carry out further investigations in their archives to locate the logbook of the European monitors’ regional center in Knin.

If there are no motions to call new evidence, the sides should submit their final briefs by early July 2010. In the week beginning 23 August 2010, the prosecution and the defense would deliver their closing arguments. General Cermak’s defense has asked for both deadlines to be put forward a bit. The Trial Chamber will schedule the exact dates soon.

Generals Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac are charged with participation in the joint criminal enterprise to permanently eliminate Serb civilians from the liberated territory in Krajina in the summer of 1995. The indictment alleges that the objective was implemented ‘by force, intimidation, persecution, forcible transfer, deportation, looting and destruction of property’ of Serb civilians; it could be assumed that the murders and inhumane and cruel treatment were ‘a possible consequence of the implementation of the objective of the joint criminal enterprise’, headed by Croatian president Franjo Tudjman.