The Croatian ambassador to the Netherlands appeared in court today to present Croatia’s views on the prosecution motion asking the Trial Chamber to issue a subpoena for the delivery of hundreds of military and police documents about Operation Storm. He said it would be ‘unnecessary and counterproductive’ because an enquiry into the matter was underway. The prosecutor contends that the enquiry is deficient, adding that so far he hasn’t heard a reasonable explanation for ‘the absence of documents which is systematic rather than accidental or isolated’

Frane Krnic, Croatian Ambassador in The NetherlandsFrane Krnic, Croatian Ambassador in The Netherlands

Republic of Croatia opposes the prosecution motion asking the Trial Chamber hearing the case of generals Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac to issue a subpoena for the delivery of hundreds of military and police documents pertaining to Operation Storm. Arguing why this was the case, the Croatian ambassador to the Netherlands Frane Krnic said that a subpoena would be ‘unnecessary and counterproductive’ as ‘an internal enquiry to locate the documents in question has already been launched’. The Croatian authorities contend that the documents are not in the archives, while the prosecution claims that they have been ‘deliberately hidden and removed’.

There are two groups of documents: the so-called artillery group comprises about 370 orders, maps and reports drafted by the Croatian Army from 2 to 6 August 1995 with a detailed list of artillery targets engaged during the shelling of Knin and other places in Krajina. The police group of documents contains a little more than 200 documents, primarily orders issued by the accused general Markac.

The Croatian ambassador rejected the allegation that the authorities have been involved in a cover up operation noting that the internal enquiry has already yielded results. Also, ‘a significant number of documents’ have recently been located and delivered to the OTP, although their contents were ‘less significant’. According to the ambassador, it is in Croatia’s interest to find the documents because they prove that neither the Croatian Army nor the police violated international humanitarian law in Operation Storm and in its aftermath.

[IMAGE]3554[/IMAGE]In his reply to the arguments presented by the Croatian representative, prosecutor Alan Tieger reminded the court that this was not about isolated cases where documents have gone missing; this is a systematic absence of documents, and no reasonable explanation has been offered. In his opinion, the current enquiry by the Croatian authorities is deficient. By way of an example he said that instead of taking new measures, the Croatian authorities have simply been going over the ground the OTP had already covered, and no relevant questions were asked during the interviews.

The Trial Chamber will rule on the prosecution motion to issue the subpoena to Croatia later.