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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03ZAGREB1402
2003-06-18 16:01:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

ICTY/CROATIA: GOTOVINA DISCUSSION CONTINUES

Tags:   KAWC  PREL  BH  HR  USUN 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L ZAGREB 001402 

SIPDIS


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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/18/2013
TAGS: KAWC PREL BH HR USUN
SUBJECT: ICTY/CROATIA: GOTOVINA DISCUSSION CONTINUES

REF: ZAGREB 1342

CLASSIFIED BY: POLOFF MITCH BENEDICT FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D)

SUMMARY
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L ZAGREB 001402

SIPDIS


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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/18/2013
TAGS: KAWC PREL BH HR USUN
SUBJECT: ICTY/CROATIA: GOTOVINA DISCUSSION CONTINUES

REF: ZAGREB 1342

CLASSIFIED BY: POLOFF MITCH BENEDICT FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D)

SUMMARY
--------------


1. (C) POLITICAL OBSERVERS IN ZAGREB BELIEVE THAT CONDITIONS
MAY SOON BE CREATED WHEREBY ICTY PIFWC ANTE GOTOVINA COULD
SURRENDER TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES FOR FURTHER TRANSFER TO THE
HAGUE. THE LOCAL ICTY REPRESENTATIVE TOLD US JUNE 18 THAT
RECENT MOVES TAKEN BY GOTOVINA HIMSELF AND PRESIDENT MESIC
COULD BE THE OPENING STEPS IN A SET-PIECE DRAMA WHERE THE
LAST ACT IS GOTOVINA'S SURRENDER AND SUBSEQUENT TRANSFER TO
ICTY. END SUMMARY.

EXCHANGE OF LETTERS
--------------


2. (C) ON JUNE 12, PRESIDENT MESIC SENT A LETTER TO ICTY
CHIEF PROSECUTOR CARLA DEL PONTE OFFERING TO GUARANTEE THE
AVAILABILITY OF PIFWC ANTE GOTOVINA IF ICTY WOULD BE WILLING
TO INTERVIEW HIM AS A "SUSPECT" IN ZAGREB RATHER THAN INSIST
ON HIS TRANSFER TO THE HAGUE. ALSO ON JUNE 12, MESIC'S
OFFICE TOLD THE PRESS THAT THE PRESIDENT HAD MADE NEW
DOCUMENTS AVAILABLE TO PM RACAN'S CABINET THAT SHOW GOTOVINA
WAS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CLEANSING OF ETHNIC SERBS FROM
THE KRAJINA REGION OF CROATIA DURING "OPERATION STORM."
FRANE KRNIC, HEAD OF THE GOC OFFICE FOR COOPERATION WITH
ICTY, TOLD THE PRESS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAD LONG AGO MADE
THE DOCUMENTS AVAILABLE TO ICTY.


3. (C) THOMAS OSARIO, HEAD OF THE ICTY OFFICE IN ZAGREB,
CONFIRMED TO US THAT THE SIX DOCUMENTS PROVIDED CONTAIN NO
NEW INFORMATION, BUT WERE SIGNIFICANT BECAUSE THEY CAME FROM
THE PRESIDENTIAL ARCHIVES, AND THEY CONTAINED BOTH
EXCULPATORY AND INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE. ON JUNE 17 DEL PONTE
RESPONDED TO MESIC IN A DRY AND FACTUAL LETTER SHE WROTE
HERSELF IN WHICH SHE GAVE MESIC NO ROOM FOR POLITICAL
MANEUVERING. SHE SAID WITHDRAWAL OF THE INDICTMENT IS NOT
POSSIBLE, AND THE "ONLY SOLUTION" IS FOR GOTOVINA TO
SURRENDER VOLUNTARILY OR BE ARRESTED AND TRANSFERRED TO THE
HAGUE AND TO APPEAR BEFORE THE COURT. DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
GRANIC ANNOUNCED THAT THE GOC WOULD RESPECT THE LAW OF THE
LAND; IF GOTOVINA PRESENTS HIMSELF, THE GOC WILL HAVE HIM
ARRESTED, EVEN IF THE ARREST TAKES PLACE AT PANTOVCAK
(MESIC'S RESIDENCE).


4. (C) MESIC'S INTERVENTION ON BEHALF OF GOTOVINA HAS GIVEN
HIM A POLITICAL BOOST, AND WAS A SOLID SWIPE AT THE HDZ'S
FIRM GRASP ON THE POLITICAL RIGHT. THE HDZ HAD USED
GOTOVINA, WIDELY ACCLAIMED AND ACCEPTED AS A WAR HERO, AS A
SYMBOL OF OPPOSITION TO COOPERATION WITH ICTY. WHATEVER THE
REASONS -- PRESSURE FROM SFOR IN BOSNIA, INTENSIFIED ACTION
ON THE PART OF THE CROATIAN POLICE, OR THE ARREST OF RAJIC
AND THE SUBSEQUENT INVESTIGATION OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS
HIDING AND WHO WAS ABETTING IT -- GOTOVINA HAS NOW DELINKED
HIS FUTURE FROM THE POLITICAL RIGHT AND HAS EFFECTIVELY
PLACED MESIC AT THE HELM OF HIS DEFENSE. FOR THE PAST YEAR,
MESIC HAS BEEN CALLING FOR GOTOVINA TO TURN HIMSELF IN.
MESIC HAS POSITIONED HIMSELF WELL; BY PICKING UP THE MANTEL
ON GOTOVINA, HE UNDERCUTS THE MODERATE RIGHT BY PROCLAIMING
THAT THE HDZ MISUSED GOTOVINA, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME HE CAN
DEMONSTRATE COOPERATION WITH ICTY AND RESPECT FOR THE LAW.
THE PRESS IS SPECULATING THAT, IF HE SUCCEEDS, MESIC IS NOW
CERTAIN TO WIN THE NEXT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.



5. (C) OSARIO TOLD US THE EXCHANGE OF LETTERS AND THE
PROVISION OF DOCUMENTS FROM THE PRESIDENTIAL ARCHIVES
(DOCUMENTS FROM THE TUDJMAN ARCHIVES), DESPITE THE FACT THEY
CONTAIN NO NEW INFORMATION, REPRESENT A SEA CHANGE IN THE
CASE. "WE HAVE GONE FROM A VACUUM TO NOW MOVEMENT," HE SAID,
NOTING THAT GOTOVINA'S LAWYERS HAVE NEVER ONCE BEEN IN DIRECT
CONTACT WITH THE ICTY OFFICE. THE DISCUSSION MAY NOW EVOLVE
THROUGH THE PRESS, BUT THE MODALITIES OF GOTOVINA'S ARREST
AND TRANSFER ARE AT LEAST NOW BEING DISCUSSED. OSARIO
DECLINED TO PREDICT WHEN GOTOVINA MIGHT SHOW UP IN THE HAGUE,
THOUGH HE ASSERTED THAT THERE IS "NO WAY BACK."
MOON

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