Trial Chamber finds that the repeated motion from July does not contain any new arguments that would lead the Chamber to change its decision of April 2004.

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

The Trial Chamber hearing the case of Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac again denied the request for the provisional release of the two Croatian generals, finding that the new motion does not contain any new arguments that would lead the Chamber to change its original decision.

The prosecution did not oppose the second motion for the provisional release of the two accused, which led everyone to expect that judges would grant the request during the recess or immediately after. The Trial Chamber, however, found that the prosecution was "quite ambiguous" in that it "does not oppose" but "does not advocate their release" either. The judges added that the arguments against their release put forward by the prosecution at the first hearing where the issue was discussed "were quite persuasive."

“The charges (for crimes against Serb civilians in the course of and after Operation Storm) remain very serious," and this could, in the Chamber’s opinion, affect the willingness of the accused to return to the Detention Unit. Furthermore, "no new arguments have been presented" that might change the previous conclusions reached by the judges "that the accused might pose a threat to the victims and witnesses, which is an important issue," said the Chamber, presided over by Australian Judge Kevin Parker.

Regarding the guarantees offered by the Croatian Government that the accused, if provisionally released, will appear in The Hague when the Chamber requests, the Chamber notes that Croatia has yet to arrest Ante Gotovina, charged with the same crimes. Although the Chamber recognizes that cooperation with the Tribunal has improved, it considers it will be possible to evaluate that cooperation "with time."

In the period between the denial of the first request and the filing of the second, Cermak and Markac were interviewed in the Detention Unit by OTP investigators--a demand made by prosecutors in order to cease their opposition to the motion for provisional release. However, for judges Parker, Carmel Agius and Jean-Claude Antonetti, this is not a "substantial change" that would lead them to change their views.

As the Croatian media is reporting, the defense will now apply to the Appeals Chamber for an allowance to appeal the Trial Chamber’s decision.