Ratko Mladic’s trial continued in closed session for the second day. The only hearing open to the public was a seven-minute status conference in Gotovina’s and Markac’s appellate proceedings; the two Croatian generals were convicted by the Trial Chamber of crimes against Serb civilians during and after Operation Storm. Markac is ‘OK’ after a difficult surgery and Gotovina has no health problems

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

Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac were back in court today for a status conference in the appellate proceedings before Judge Theodor Meron’s Appeals Chamber. In April 2011, Gotovina was sentenced to 24 and Markac to 18 years in prison for their involvement in the joint criminal enterprise aimed at expelling Serbs from Krajina during and after Operation Storm in the summer of 1995. The defense of the two generals asked the appellate judges to acquit the accused while the prosecution called for the confirmation of the Trial Chamber’s judgment.

After a brief introduction dealing with procedural matters, the presiding judge invited the accused to present any comments about the conditions in the detention unit and any health problems. Mladen Markac spoke first; he explained that he was recuperating from a ‘difficult surgery’. As he is receiving ‘appropriate medical care’, ‘everything is OK’, Markac said. Ante Gotovina told the Trial Chamber he had no health problems and confirmed ‘everything is all right’.

Before concluding the hearing, Judge Meron recalled that in August 2012 the prosecution responded to an earlier invitation of the Trial Chamber to give its opinion on whether the Croatian generals should be convicted on the basis of their command responsibility for aiding and abetting crime if they are acquitted of individual responsibility for the attacks on towns in Krajina and for their part in the joint criminal enterprise. The prosecution replied that the Croatian generals should be convicted on the basis of their command responsibility, but that their sentences should remain unchanged. In their response, the defense teams of the two generals asked the judges not to convict their clients on the basis of either form of responsibility.

In addition, on 11 August 2012, Gotovina’s defense submitted a motion claiming that the Appeals Chamber lacked authority to consider their client’s command responsibility because the prosecution didn’t lodge an appeal to that effect. Markac’s defense supported the motion. Gotovina’s defense counsel Greg Kehoe asked the presiding judge when they could expect the decision on the issue. As the presiding judge indicated, the parties will be notified as soon as the decision is made.

The appellate hearing in the case against the Croatian generals was held in May 2012, early by the Tribunal’s standards: little over a year after the Trial Chamber delivered its judgment. No specific dates were mentioned today for the Appeals Chamber’s final judgment for the crimes against Serbs during and after Operation Storm. The only indication was Theodor Meron’s last address to the UN Security Council, when he said that the judgment would be handed down by the end of this year.