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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03ZAGREB1342
2003-06-11 16:13:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

CROATIA/ICTY: PIFWC ANTE GOTOVINA GOES PUBLIC

Tags:   KAWC  PREL  BH  HR  UN  UNSC 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L  ZAGREB 001342 

SIPDIS


STATE FOR EUR, EUR/SCE, EUR/BI AND S/WCI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/12/13
TAGS: KAWC PREL BH HR UN UNSC
SUBJECT: CROATIA/ICTY: PIFWC ANTE GOTOVINA GOES PUBLIC

Classified By: Poloff Robert Silberstein, reasons 1.5(b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L ZAGREB 001342

SIPDIS


STATE FOR EUR, EUR/SCE, EUR/BI AND S/WCI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/12/13
TAGS: KAWC PREL BH HR UN UNSC
SUBJECT: CROATIA/ICTY: PIFWC ANTE GOTOVINA GOES PUBLIC

Classified By: Poloff Robert Silberstein, reasons 1.5(b) and (d)


1. (U) In an undated interview published June 10, ICTY
fugitive PIFWC Ante Gotovina reportedly told Ivo Pukanic,
editor of Croatian newsmagazine "Nacional," that he
acknowledged the authority of the Hague Tribunal. Gotovina
said that he was willing to surrender to the ICTY on the
condition that the indictment against him is suspended and he
is given the opportunity to be interviewed as a suspect by
ICTY investigators in Zagreb. Should the OTP then decide
that an indictment is warranted, Gotovina claimed that he
would surrender quietly to The Hague.


2. (SBU) In the interview, Gotovina criticized Croatia's
former HDZ government, saying that it failed to inform him of
OTP requests to interview him as a suspect in 1998. He was
milder in his critique of the current coalition government,
but said it too let him down as it failed to communicate with
him at all after coming to power in 2000. In what can only
be termed revisionist history, Gotovina characterized himself
as a "victim of political manipulation" from both the right
and the left. (Note: in early 2001, Gotovina was one of 12
retired and active-duty generals who published an open letter
harshly attacking the Racan Government for its decision to
order the arrest of Croatian Army General Mirko Norac for war
crimes committed in the town of Gospic in 1991. Norac was
convicted in 2003.) Gotovina extended an olive branch to
President Mesic, saying that he deplored an incident at a
military barracks in Split in May 2001 when members of the
local guards brigade openly cursed Mesic during the
President's visit.


3. (U) Prime Minister Racan, President Mesic and Deputy Prime
Minister Goran Granic (day-to-day manager of the GOC's
relationship with ICTY) reiterated that Gotovina had no
choice but to appear in The Hague as an indictee. Racan
offered Gotovina the GOC's full support in mounting a legal
defense once the PIFWC surrendered.

Ready to surrender?
--------------


4. (C) ICTY Zagreb ResRep Thomas Osorio told us June 11 that
he believed the Gotovina interview was authentic and very
encouraging. He interprets the interview as a clear sign
that recent stepped-up SFOR pressure in Bosnia (tightened
border controls, sweeps of areas in which Gotovina was
suspected of taking shelter, detention of suspected
collaborators) is having the desired psychological effect on
Gotovina. So too is pressure from the international
community; Osorio speculated that Gotovina appears to be
coming to the conclusion that even if the HDZ returns to
power he would have to remain a fugitive as any Croatian
Government would be compelled to transfer him to the ICTY.
Therefore, Gotovina may have decided to take the plunge and
open what are in effect negotiations with the ICTY -- with
the press, the GOC and the Office of the President as
intermediaries -- on the modalities of an eventual surrender.



5. (C) Osorio said the ICTY will not entertain Gotovina's
demand that the indictment against him be dropped or
suspended, even temporarily. However, once he surrenders,
the OTP can proffer "face saving" options. These included
launching a complete indictment review, in which Gotovina and
his legal team could participate, and rewording or dropping
elements of the indictment.


6. (C) Separately, Osorio's deputy told us that they have
received no indication that the Croatian police have
developed new leads on Gotovina's whereabouts. In a
statement to police on June 10, "Nacional" editor Pukanic
refused to disclose any details about where or when the
interview was conducted, other than to say that it was
outside Croatia and that there were other "witnesses"
present.

Comment
--------------


7. (C) Whatever his motivations for giving an interview --
SFOR and IC pressure, a falling out with his right-wing
abettors or ennui of life as a fugitive -- Gotovina, by
acknowledging ICTY's jurisdiction, has embarrassed Croatia's
political right, which had made him the poster boy of
opposition to ICTY cooperation. The GOC and President Mesic

already have begun to make political hay of the interview,
hinting that had the HDZ facilitated Gotovina's interviewed
as a suspect in 1998, ICTY might have decided not to indict
him.
ROSSIN
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