GOTOVINA AND MARKAC APPEAL AGAINST JUDGMENT, PROSECUTION DECIDES NOT TO APPEAL
The defense teams seek to quash the finding that there was a joint criminal enterprise aimed at expelling Serbs from Krajina and call for the acquittal of generals Gotovina and Markac. Having reviewed the judgment, the prosecution has decided not to appeal. This means that Ivan Cermak is now a free man, as there is no appeal pending against his acquittal
The defense of the Croatian generals filed their notices of appeal against the Trial Chamber’s judgment. The Trial Chamber sentenced Ante Gotovina to 24 years and Mladen Markac to 18 years in prison. The defense teams indicate they will appeal all the findings of the Trial Chamber and will call for the acquittal of the accused on all counts in the indictment. Markac’s defense alternatively called for a milder sentence if the Appeals Chamber rejected the request for his acquittal.
General Ante Gotovina’s defense focused on the finding of the Trial Chamber that the Croatian Army’s and special police shelled Krajina towns during Operation Storm in an ‘unlawful attack against civilians’. The defense contends that the entire judgment is based on an ‘arbitrary’ conclusion of the Trial Chamber that all shells that hit locations outside of a 200 meter radius around military targets represented unlawful attacks. If the Appeals Chamber rejects this conclusion, the conviction ‘cannot stand’, the defense maintains. Gotovina was convicted for ordering an unlawful attack on civilians that was the ‘primary and direct cause’ of the Serbs’ departure from Krajina. This finally led to the conclusion that Gotovina took part in the joint criminal enterprise.
According to the notice, during the trial the parties never stated that the permissible error in artillery strikes was 200 meters from the military target. Even if this criterion were to be accepted, the Trial Chamber found that only five percent of the shells – about 60 out of 1,205 projectiles, hit civilian areas. The judges reached their conclusion that there was a joint criminal enterprise based on the existence of alleged unlawful artillery attacks ‘in which 95% of the shells were satisfactorily shown to have been directed at military objectives’ the defense claims. The defense notes that, according to the judgment, most of the five percent of shells that remain contentious actually impacted on ‘empty fields’ that could not be characterized as civilian areas. Furthermore, the Trial Chamber didn’t find that ‘a single civilian was killed, injured or forcibly displaced as the result of instances of unlawful shelling’, the defense argued.
In the seven grounds of appeal, Gotovina’s defense states that the Trial Chamber erred when it rejected ‘reliable evidence’ about the evacuation plans and anti-Croatian propaganda disseminated by the Krajina authorities as the cause for the exodus of Serb civilians. According to the defense, the Trial Chamber also erred when it found that there was a joint criminal enterprise aimed at expelling Serbs from Krajina. The defense contends that the Trial Chamber erroneously concluded that Gotovina was involved in the joint criminal enterprise and that he was aware of the widespread and systematic attacks against civilians. Gotovina’s defense has in the meantime been reinforced by Swiss lawyer Guenael Mettraux.
In its 12 grounds of appeal listed in the notice of appeal, Mladen Markac’s defense also denies the existence of the joint criminal enterprise and the involvement of their client in it. The defense contends that the Trial Chamber ‘should have first asked itself’ whether Operation Storm was a legitimate military operation and only then gone on to consider if there was a joint criminal enterprise. The notice states that the Trial Chamber should have concluded that Markac was ‘misinformed’ about the murder of the elderly Serbs in the village of Grubori. In the judgment, the Trial Chamber found that Markac wanted to cover up the incident. The defense also contends that the Trial Chamber erred when it concluded that the special police, headed by Markac, participated in the indiscriminate shelling of Gracac and the destruction and looting in that town, and in the torching of Donji Lapac and murders of civilians.
The prosecution briefly announced today that it ‘decided not to appeal having reviewed the judgment’. This indicates that the prosecution is happy with the sentence imposed on Gotovina and Markac. It also means that Ivan Cermak’s acquittal on all charges for crimes against Serbs in Krajina is now final.
- Case : Gotovina et al. - "Operation Storm"
- 2011-05-10 WHY IVAN CERMAK WAS ACQUITTED
- 2011-05-06 MARKAC’S FAILURE TO ACT IN OPERATION STORM
- 2011-05-03 GOTOVINA’S CONTRIBUTION TO JOINT CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE
- 2011-05-23 CROATIAN GENERALS GET AN APPEALS CHAMBER
- 2011-06-23 GOTOVINA SEEKS HELP FROM SERBIA
- 2011-09-07 GOTOVINA’S DEFENSE RENEWS REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE FROM SERBIA