The judges are ‘not convinced’ that the brief filed by 12 experts, most of whom are from the US, would assist them in dealing with the issues on appeal. The applicants want the Appeals Chamber to reverse the part of Ante Gotovina’s and Mladen Markac’s judgment about unlawful artillery attack on Serb civilians. The brief was denied mainly because of the concerns about the applicants’ objectivity and because it revisits the issues already dealt with by the Trial Chamber and in the appeal briefs filed by the parties

Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac in the courtroomAnte Gotovina and Mladen Markac in the courtroom

Judge Theodor Meron’s Appeals Chamber denied today the motion filed by 12 military and legal experts, ten Americans, a Canadian and a Briton, who addressed the court as ‘amici curiae’ and asked it to reverse the Trial Chamber’s findings about unlawful artillery attack on civilians in Operation Storm in the summer of 1995 in the judgment of Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac. The Trial Chamber sentenced Gotovina to 24 and Markac to 18 years in prison for their involvement in the joint criminal enterprise aimed at expelling Serb civilians from Krajina.

The judges recalled that the appellate proceedings were largely party-driven and that the parties assisted the Appeals Chamber through submissions on issues of fact. The Appeals Chamber added that the Amicus Curiae brief addressed ‘numerous factual issues’ and ‘interpretations of evidence on the record’. Thus, the applicants readdressed the issues already dealt with by the Trial Chamber and in the appeal briefs filed by the parties. The judges in the Appeals Chamber noted that the three expert reports included in the Amicus Curiae brief were included among the reports appended to Gotovina’s motion to admit additional evidence.

The judges noted that the American experts’ motion had failed to disclose that one of the 12 applicants, military expert Geoffrey Corn, had testified earlier as Gotovina’s defense’s expert witness. The Amicus Curiae guidelines state that ‘an amicus brief should include a statement identifying and explaining any contact the applicant had, or has, with any party to the case’. The Appeals Chamber recalled that another applicant had worked as a defense expert consultant, noting that this ‘raises some additional concerns’ about the objectivity of the amici curiae.

In light of all that, the judges concluded they are ‘not convinced’ that the proposed brief of the 12 experts ‘would assist [us] in determining the issues on appeal’ and thus decided to deny it.

It has been indicated earlier that the appellate hearing in the case against Croatian generals would be held ‘in spring’. An exact date may be determined soon.