The Croatian government has asked permission to take part as an amicus curiae in the appellate proceedings against the former Bosnian Croat leaders. According to the Croatian government, the trial judgment in their case posthumously convicted three former Croatian officials – Franjo Tudjman, Gojko Susak and Janko Bobetko 'based on non-existent evidence'

Franjo Tudjman, Gojko Šušak, Janko BobetkoFranjo Tudjman, Gojko Šušak, Janko Bobetko

Croatia has asked permission to take part as an amicus curiae in the appellate proceedings in the case against six former Herceg Bosna leaders. In 2013, the Trial Chamber sentenced the six accused to long-term prison sentences for crimes against Bosniaks in the Croatian-Muslim conflict in BH. Former BH prime minister Jadranko Prlic was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Defense minister Bruno Stojic and HVO commanders Slobodan Praljak and Milivoj Petkovic were sentenced to 20 years in prison. Military police commander Valentic Coric got 16 years and Berislav Pusic, who headed the commission for the exchange of prisoners, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In its judgment, the Trial Chamber found with a majority of votes, presiding judge Antonetti dissenting, that the conflict in the territory of the self-proclaimed Herceg Bosna (HB) was international, because Croatia's military forces fought side by side with the HVO against the BH Army. The judges also determined that there was a joint criminal enterprise aimed at establishing a Croat entity in the BH territory that coincided in part with the borders of the Croatian Banovina in 1939. The territory was to be annexed to Croatia or to become an independent state with close ties with Croatia, if BH were to break up.

In its motion, Croatia notes that the trial judgment ‘failed to call any valid evidence’ that Tudjman, Susak and Bobetko had ‘directed and coordinated’ events in the field whose goal and intent were to commit crimes. According to Zagreb, the Trial Chamber violated the European Convention on Human Rights with its conclusion that the three Croatian officials had participated in the joint criminal enterprise, because the judges ‘disregarded the principle of the presumption of innocence’. Croatia now wants the Appeals Chamber to ‘correct the errors’ and allow it to represent, the three men who were posthumously convicted in the first instance judgment: Tudjman, Susak and Bobetko.

As Croatia argues in its motion, the Trial Chamber ‘confounded’ two issues – the desire to re-establish the Croatian Banovina as it existed in 1939 and the purported intent of Tudjman, Susak and Bobetko to implement that goal through the commission of crimes. Croatia invoked the judgment in the case against Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, who were acquitted of charges related to their involvement in a joint criminal enterprise because the trial judges thought there was a ‘reasonable possibility’ that their intent had been limited to the establishment and maintenance of Serb control over large parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and did not extend to the commission of the crimes.