“Full cooperation with the Tribunal is not only a matter of national interest but the responsibility of every accused" – stated Croatian generals in their motion for provisional release

Ivan Cermak i Mladen Markac in the courtroomIvan Cermak i Mladen Markac in the courtroom

On the same day when generals Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac pleaded not guilty to the indictment charging them with crimes committed in the course of and after Operation Storm, their defence counsels filed the motions for provisional release pending trial.

The motions are virtually identical, the only difference being the description of the personal circumstances of the accused and the number of interviews they gave to the investigators of the Office of the Prosecutor: Ivan Cermak spoke to them four times (between 1998 and 2000) and Mladen Markac two times (between 2002 and 2003). Cermak adds that on two occasions he provided the Office of the Prosecutor with over 130 documents he "had managed to locate" as he says, while Markac's motion does not mention this type of cooperation.

Both accused swear on their honour as a military and a police officer, respectively, that they would return to The Hague to face trial and that while on provisional release they would not represent a danger to the victims, witnesses or any other person. Both use the same arguments: most of the victims and witnesses of Serb ethnic origin do not live in the territory of the Republic of Croatia any more and the accused have no access to them. The same goes for the former UN peace-keepers and other witnesses from the international community who might be called as witnesses about the events of the autumn 1995 in the so called south Krajina.

In their motions for provisional release both Cermak and Markac stress that they recognize the authority of the Tribunal, "the only internationally recognized forum before which they can defend themselves and respond to the charges in the indictment". As they say, their view is that "full cooperation with the Tribunal is not only in the national interest, but that it is the responsibility of every accused person.”

Attached to the motions are two identical sworn statements signed by the accused. In them, Cermak and Markac undertake that they will "continue their cooperation with the Tribunal, appear at the trial and respond to any summons from the Tribunal, and will not try to influence witnesses or pervert the course of justice.

Finally, two identical letters of guarantee are attached, signed by the Croatian Justice Minister, Vesna Skare-Ozbolt. The Government undertakes to ensure that generals Cermak and Markac will return to The Hague for trial if they are provisionally released and that during their stay in Croatia they will not pose any danger to victims and witnesses.