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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03ZAGREB680
2003-03-26 07:00:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

CROATIA WAR CRIMES: GOSPIC CASE ENDS IN CONVICTION

Tags:   KAWC  KJUS  PREL  HR  HRICTY  UNSC 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 ZAGREB 000680 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR S/WCI, EUR/SCE, INL/AAE, EUR/ACE, AND DRL
JUSTICE FOR OPDAT AND ICITAP
SARAJEVO FOR KONTOS AND TILMAN
BELGRADE FOR BROWN
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00680 01 OF 04 260700Z
THE HAGUE FOR JOHNSON/KAYE/WHEATON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/25/2013
TAGS: KAWC KJUS PREL KAWC KJUS PREL KAWC KJUS PREL KAWC KJUS PREL HR HRICTY UNSC
SUBJECT: CROATIA WAR CRIMES: GOSPIC CASE ENDS IN CONVICTION

REF: A. 02 ZAGREB 2853

B. 02 ZAGREB 2451

CLASSIFIED BY: POLOFF ROBERT SILBERSTEIN, REASON 1.5 (B) AND (D)

SUMMARY
-------



1. (C) ON MARCH 24, THE RIJEKA COUNTY COURT FOUND FORMER
CROATIAN ARMY GENERAL MIRKO NORAC AND TWO CO-CONSPIRATORS
GUILTY OF INDIVIDUAL AND COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY IN THE MURDER
OF OVER 50 ETHNIC SERBS AND CROAT CIVILIANS IN THE TOWN OF
GOSPIC IN 1991. THE LANDMARK VERDICT, WHICH THE SUPREME
COURT WILL HEAR ON DEFENSE APPEAL, MARKS THE FIRST TIME THAT
SENIOR CROATIAN MILITARY OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN CONVICTED IN A
CROATIAN COURT FOR WAR CRIMES. CROATIA'S RIGHT WING --
INCLUDING HDZ PRESIDENT SANADER -- CONDEMNED THE DECISION;
PRIME MINISTER RACAN AND VIRTUALLY THE REST OF THE GOC
COALITION OFFERED NO COMMENT. THE ICTY, WHICH CONTINUES TO
HAVE INTEREST IN NORAC FOR HIS ROLE IN WAR CRIMES COMMITTED
DURING THE 1993 MEDAK POCKET OPERATION, TELLS US IT WELCOMES
THE RULING.



2. (C) THE GOSPIC RULING IS A WELCOME TONIC AFTER THE SERIES
OF FAILURES TO CONVICT ETHNIC CROAT WAR CRIMES PERPETRATORS
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00680 01 OF 04 260700Z
IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS IN CROATIA, MOST NOTABLY THE LORA WAR
CRIMES CASE IN SPLIT (REFTELS). THE CREDIT FOR THE SUCCESS
GOES TO JUDGE SARIC AND A FEW DETERMINED PROSECUTORS AND
INVESTIGATORS. WITHOUT INTENSIVE AND SUSTAINED REFORM TO
OVERCOME BIASED JUDGES, WITNESS INTIMIDATION, DELIBERATE
OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE, POLITICAL OPPOSITION AND A FLAWED
CRIMINAL CODE, THE GOSPIC CASE LIKELY WILL REMAIN THE
EXCEPTION, NOT THE RULE. WE WILL CONTINUE TO ENGAGE WITH THE
GOC TO DEVELOP A ROAD MAP FOR HOW WE CAN SUPPORT THE EFFORTS
OF REFORMERS IN THIS DIFFICULT PROCESS, WHICH IS NECESSARY
FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF FULL RULE OF LAW AND DEMOCRATIC
NORMS IN CROATIA. END SUMMARY.

A LANDMARK RULING


--------------------------





3. (C) ON MARCH 24, RIJEKA COUNTY COURT JUDGE IKA SARIC,
SENTENCED FORMER CROATIAN GENERAL MIRKO NORAC, LOCAL CIVILIAN
LEADER TIHOMIR ORESKOVIC, AND FORMER CROATIAN ARMY COLONEL
STJEPAN GRANDIC TO 12, 15 AND 10 YEARS OF PRISON,
RESPECTIVELY, FOR THEIR ROLES IN ORGANIZING AND MURDERING AT
LEAST 42 ETHNIC SERB AND ETHNIC CROATS IN THE TOWN OF GOSPIC
IN 1991. THE CASE MARKS THE FIRST TIME SENIOR CROATIAN
MILITARY OFFICIALS WERE CONVICTED OF WAR CRIMES IN A LOCAL
PROSECUTION. A FOURTH INDICTEE, IVICA ROZIC, WAS ACQUITTED
DUE TO LACK OF EVIDENCE, WHILE THE PROSECUTION DROPPED
CHARGES AGAINST A FIFTH INDICTEE, MILAN CANIC, IN MID-MARCH.
(IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING HIS ACQUITTAL, THE GOSPIC PROSECUTOR'S
OFFICE INDICTED ROZIC FOR PLANTING 13 EXPLOSIVE DEVICES IN
THE HOMES OF ETHNIC SERB RETURNEES FROM 1996 TO 1998, KILLING
SIX. CROATIAN DIRECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE RANKO OSTOJIC TOLD
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00680 01 OF 04 260700Z
US THAT THE POLICE BELIEVE ROZIC ALSO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE
AUGUST 2000 MURDER OF ICTY WITNESS MILAN LEVAR, ALTHOUGH THEY
HAVE INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO PROSECUTE HIM.)



4. (SBU) DEFENSE ATTORNEYS SAID THEY WOULD APPEAL THE CASE TO
THE SUPREME COURT, ARGUING THAT THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT
EVIDENCE TO CONVICT THE SUSPECTS. THE SUPREME COURT HAS THE
RIGHT TO ANNUL THE VERDICT OR TO REDUCE (OR INCREASE) THE
SENTENCE. DORIS HRAST, LEAD PROSECUTOR IN THE CASE, TOLD US
THAT THE PROSECUTION WOULD APPEAL THE ROZIC ACQUITTAL AND
ARGUE THAT THE SUPREME COURT UPHOLD THE SENTENCES AGAINST THE
OTHER THREE FELONS. THERE IS NO INDICATION AS TO WHEN THE
SUPREME COURT MIGHT ISSUE ITS VERDICT -- PROSECUTION APPEALS
IN OTHER WAR CRIMES CASES HAVE BEEN PENDING FOR OVER FIFTEEN
MONTHS. COUNTING THE TWO-PLUS YEARS NORAC SERVED IN
DETENTION AWAITING AND DURING TRIAL, HE WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR
PAROLE IN FIVE YEARS (AFTER HALF THE SENTENCE IS SERVED).

IF ALL CROATIAN JUDGES WERE LIKE SARIC...


--------------------------





5. (SBU) JUDGE SARIC WITHSTOOD WITHERING RIGHT WING
INTIMIDATION AND DEATH THREATS DURING THE COURSE OF THE
TWO-YEAR TRIAL TO DELIVER A FAIR BUT FIRM DECISION. READING

CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL PTQ1803

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 00680 02 OF 04 260700Z
ACTION SWCI-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AMAD-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 INL-00
USNW-00 DODE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EAP-00 EUR-00 VC-00
TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01
NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 DHS-00 PA-00 PM-00
PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SSO-00 SS-00 TRSE-00 T-00
USIE-00 R-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-01 G-00
NFAT-00 SAS-00 /006W


--------------------------

4AD0C4 260701Z /38
P 260700Z MAR 03
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9817
INFO AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY
DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY
USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 04 ZAGREB 000680

SIPDIS

STATE FOR S/WCI, EUR/SCE, INL/AAE, EUR/ACE, AND DRL
JUSTICE FOR OPDAT AND ICITAP
SARAJEVO FOR KONTOS AND TILMAN
BELGRADE FOR BROWN
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00680 02 OF 04 260700Z
THE HAGUE FOR JOHNSON/KAYE/WHEATON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/25/2013
TAGS: KAWC KJUS PREL KAWC KJUS PREL KAWC KJUS PREL KAWC KJUS PREL HR HRICTY UNSC
SUBJECT: CROATIA WAR CRIMES: GOSPIC CASE ENDS IN CONVICTION

HER VERDICT TO A COURTROOM PACKED WITH NORAC SUPPORTERS AND
500 RIGHT-WING PROTESTORS OUTSIDE THE COURTHOUSE, SARIC MADE
A POINT OF READING THE NAME OF EVERY VICTIM, EMPHASIZING THAT
THEY WERE ALL LOYAL TO THE CROATIAN STATE. SHE EMPHASIZED
THAT THERE WAS NO JUSTIFICATION WHATSOEVER FOR THEIR
"LIQUIDATION." APOLOGIZING TO THE FAMILIES OF THE VICTIMS,
SARIC SAID THAT SHE HOPED THE SENTENCE WOULD BRING THEM SOME
COMFORT. SHE RECOMMENDED TO THE PROSECUTION THAT OTHERS WHO
PARTICIPATED IN PLANNING AND EXECUTING THE CRIMES BE TRIED AS
WELL. (ACCORDING TO VARIOUS WITNESSES, UP TO 15 PERSONS
PARTICIPATED IN THE MEETING THAT ORESKOVIC AND NORAC CHAIRED
IN WHICH ETHNIC SERB AND ETHNIC CROAT NON-COMBATANTS IN THE
GOSPIC AREA WERE MARKED FOR EXECUTION.) AT THE SAME TIME,
SARIC SAID THAT MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES -- NORAC'S YOUTH AND
INEXPERIENCE, HIS RECORD OF "VALOR" IN DEFENSE OF GOSPIC, AND
PRIOR SERB WAR CRIMES AGAINST ETHNIC CROATS -- COMPELLED HER
NOT TO EXTEND THE MAXIMUM PUNISHMENT OF TWENTY YEARS AGAINST
THE THREE CONVICTED DEFENDANTS. (WHILE A MODEST SENTENCE BY
U.S. STANDARDS, THE GOSPIC VERDICT WAS IN LINE WITH STANDARDS
BOTH LOCALLY AND ELSEWHERE IN EUROPE.)

CROATIAN POLITICIANS, ICTY REACT


--------------------------





6. (SBU) POLITICIANS OF ALL STRIPES IGNORED JUDGE SARIC'S
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00680 02 OF 04 260700Z
MESSAGE THAT CROATIANS NEED TO BEAR RESPONSIBILITY FOR WAR
CRIMES THEY COMMITTED. CALLING NORAC A "GREAT CONTRIBUTOR TO
THE DEFENSE OF THE HOMELAND," HDZ PRESIDENT IVO SANADERS SAID
THAT HE RECEIVED THE VERDICT WITH GREAT "SORROW." HE SAID HE
WAS "HOPEFUL" THAT "TRUTH AND JUSTICE" WOULD PREVAIL IN THE
SUPREME COURT. SANADER CRITICIZED THE GOC FOR FOMENTING A
CLIMATE THAT "CRIMINALIZES BOTH WAR VETERANS AND CROATIA'S
INDEPENDENCE WAR." (COMMENT: BY PLAYING TO THE NATIONALIST
RIGHT YET AGAIN, SANADER MISSED AN OPPORTUNITY TO DEMONSTRATE
THAT HE IS SINCERE IN HIS ATTEMPTS TO MODERNIZE AND TRANSFORM
THE HDZ. WE HAVE LET THE HDZ KNOW OF OUR DISAPPOINTMENT AND
OUR RESOLVE NOT TO GIVE SANADER THE VALIDATION HE SEEKS FROM
US UNLESS HIS PUBLIC RHETORIC MATCHES HIS PRIVATE ASSURANCES
OF REFORM. END COMMENT.)



7. (SBU) PRIME MINISTER RACAN AND OTHER LEADING COALITION
FIGURES REFUSED TO COMMENT ON THE JUDGMENT, BUT CALLED ON
CROATIANS TO RESPECT THE JUDICIAL PROCESS AND NOT TAKE TO THE
STREETS IN PROTEST. HE SAID THAT THE PROCESS "CONFIRMED THAT
CROATIA IS A STATE IN WHICH RULE OF LAW PREVAILS." ONLY IVO
BANAC, PRESIDENT OF THE TINY COALITION LIBERAL PARTY (LS),
HAD THE COURAGE TO STATE THAT CRIMES WERE COMMITTED IN GOSPIC
AND THAT THE RIJEKA COURT'S RULING DEMONSTRATES THE
SERIOUSNESS OF THOSE CRIMES.



8. (C) ICTY ZAGREB HEAD OF OFFICE THOMAS OSORIO TOLD US THAT
ICTY PRIVATELY WELCOMED THE RULING, ALTHOUGH IT WOULD REFRAIN
FROM PUBLIC COMMENT, AT THE VERY LEAST UNTIL IT HAS A CHANCE
TO READ AND REVIEW SARIC'S WRITTEN VERDICT. (THE WRITTEN
VERDICT IS NOT EXPECTED FOR AT LEAST A MONTH). DESPITE THE
GOSPIC CASE RULING, ICTY STILL MAY INDICT NORAC FOR HIS ROLE
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00680 02 OF 04 260700Z
IN WAR CRIMES COMMITTED BY THE CROATIAN MILITARY DURING THE
1993 "MEDAK POCKET" OPERATION, OSORIO SAID. ACCORDING TO
CROATIAN PROSECUTOR HRAST, THERE IS NO LEGAL OBSTACLE TO
NORAC SERVING HIS CROATIAN SENTENCE WHILE AWAITING TRIAL IN
THE HAGUE.

IMPLICATION FOR LOCAL PROSECUTIONS


--------------------------





9. (C) RACAN AND OTHER GOC OFFICIALS ARGUE THAT THE GOSPIC
CASE DEMONSTRATES THAT CROATIAN COURTS ARE CAPABLE OF
DELIVERING JUSTICE IN HIGHLY SENSITIVE WAR CRIMES CASES.
HOWEVER, NOT TO DETRACT AT ALL FOR THE REAL COURAGE OF JUDGE
SARIC AND OTHER INVOLVED IN BRINGING A HIGHLY COMPLEX AND
SENSITIVE CASE TO A SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION, GOSPIC REMAINS THE
EXCEPTION, NOT THE RULE IN CROATIAN JURISPRUDENCE.



10. (C) AS REPORTED REFTELS, OTHER WAR CRIMES CASES AGAINST
ETHNIC CROATS -- SUCH AS THE NOTORIOUS LORA CASE -- HAVE
ENDED IN FIASCO. CHIEF PROSECUTOR MLADEN BAJIC RECENTLY
COMPLAINED TO US THAT LOCAL POLICE OFFICERS INCREASINGLY ARE
OBSTRUCTING NEW WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATIONS AGAINST ETHNIC
CROATS. BAJIC ADDED THAT HE FINDS IT INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT
TO CONTROL HIS LOCAL PROSECUTORS IN WAR-AFFECTED AREAS SUCH

CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL PTQ1808

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 00680 03 OF 04 260701Z
ACTION SWCI-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AMAD-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 INL-00
USNW-00 DODE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EAP-00 EUR-00 VC-00
TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01
NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 DHS-00 PA-00 PM-00
PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SSO-00 SS-00 TRSE-00 T-00
USIE-00 R-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-01 G-00
NFAT-00 SAS-00 /006W


--------------------------

4AD0DA 260701Z /38
P 260700Z MAR 03
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9818
INFO AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY
DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY
USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 03 OF 04 ZAGREB 000680

SIPDIS

STATE FOR S/WCI, EUR/SCE, INL/AAE, EUR/ACE, AND DRL
JUSTICE FOR OPDAT AND ICITAP
SARAJEVO FOR KONTOS AND TILMAN
BELGRADE FOR BROWN
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00680 03 OF 04 260701Z
THE HAGUE FOR JOHNSON/KAYE/WHEATON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/25/2013
TAGS: KAWC KJUS PREL KAWC KJUS PREL KAWC KJUS PREL KAWC KJUS PREL HR HRICTY UNSC
SUBJECT: CROATIA WAR CRIMES: GOSPIC CASE ENDS IN CONVICTION

AS OSIJEK, GOSPIC AND SISAK.



11. (C) THE GOSPIC TRIAL WAS SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE OF A UNIQUE
CONFLUENCE OF CIRCUMSTANCES:

-- IKA SARIC PROVED TO BE THE RIGHT JUDGE FOR THE CASE.
STRONG WILLED AND PROFESSIONAL, SHE WAS ABLE TO WITHSTAND
UNRELENTING RIGHT-WING PRESSURE AND THREATS. LAW ENFORCEMENT
OFFICIALS IN RIJEKA TELL US THAT AT LEAST ONE OTHER WAR
CRIMES CASE THERE HAS STAGNATED BECAUSE INVESTIGATORS FEAR
RIGHT-WING RETRIBUTION AGAINST THEIR FAMILIES.

-- PROSECUTORS IN RIJEKA WERE ABLE TO DEVELOP SUFFICIENT
PHYSICAL EVIDENCE TO CORROBORATE AND TO COMPEL CONVINCING
EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY. THIS COMBINATION OF REINFORCING
MATERIAL AND WITNESS TESTIMONY HAS BEEN LACKING IN OTHER
CASES, MOST NOTABLY THE LORA WAR CRIMES TRIAL IN SPLIT.
-- THE PROSECUTION SKILLFULLY USED THE TESTIMONY OF SUSPECT
STJEPAN GRANDIC AGAINST NORAC AND ORESKOVIC.

-- IN ADDITION TO ETHNIC SERBS, NORAC AND HIS CO-CONSPIRATORS
ALSO MURDERED ETHNIC CROATS WHOM THEY BELIEVED WERE NOT
SUFFICIENTLY "RELIABLE." ACCORDING TO HRAST, THE MURDER OF
CROATS HELPED INDUCE A NUMBER OF KEY WITNESSES TO STEP
FORWARD AND TESTIFY, DESPITE INTENSE INTIMIDATION.
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00680 03 OF 04 260701Z

-- UNLIKE SOME OTHER WAR CRIMES CASES, THE DOCUMENT TRAIL IN
THE GOSPIC CASE WAS EXTENSIVE, TO INCLUDE RECORDED BRIEFINGS
TO BOTH PRESIDENT TUDJMAN AND DEFENSE MINISTER SUSAK. THIS
DOCUMENT TRAIL MADE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR THE DEFENDANTS TO
COVER THEIR TRACKS AND FOR WITNESSES TO DEVELOP "AMNESIA."

-- EARLY IN THE TRIAL PROCESS, THE CASE WAS TRANSFERRED FROM
GOSPIC TO RIJEKA, WHERE THE TRIAL COULD BE HELD IN A
RELATIVELY BENIGN ENVIRONMENT. HRAST WAS CONVINCED THAT HAD
THE TRIAL BEEN CONDUCTED IN GOSPIC -- CROATIA'S "TWIN PEAKS"
EQUIVALENT -- THE PRESSURE ON THE JUDGES AND WITNESSES WOULD
HAVE BEEN SO INTENSE AS TO PRECLUDE ANY CHANCE OF CONVICTION.
HOWEVER, THE GOC -- FOR DOMESTIC POLITICAL REASONS -- HAS
BEEN RELUCTANT TO TRANSFER OTHER WAR CRIMES CASES TO "SAFER"
COURTS. ALL OTHER WAR CRIMES PROSECUTIONS AGAINST ETHNIC
CROATS IN CROATIA HAVE BEEN HELD IN THEIR ORIGINAL
JURISDICTIONS. ALL HAVE ENDED WITH VERY QUESTIONABLE
RESULTS.

LESSONS LEARNED


--------------------------





12. (C) THE BOTTOM LINE, ACCORDING TO HRAST AND, SEPARATELY,
CHIEF PROSECUTOR MLADEN BAJIC, IS THAT -- BARRING SIGNIFICANT
LEGISLATIVE REFORM AND INCREASED POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR THOSE
PRESSING FORWARD WITH WAR CRIMES TRIALS -- THE GOSPIC CASE
WILL CONTINUE TO BE THE EXCEPTION AND NOT THE RULE. FOR
EXAMPLE, THEY POINT OUT THAT THE GOSPIC CASE IS AN
INSTRUCTIVE LESSON FOR OTHER CROATIAN JUDGES. JUSTICE SARIC,
WHO HAILS FROM THE SAME AREA OF CENTRAL DALMATIA AS ICTY
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00680 03 OF 04 260701Z
FUGITIVE ANTE GOTOVINA, IS EFFECTIVELY OSTRACIZED FROM HER
COMMUNITY AND MUST LIVE UNDER A CONTINUING CLOUD OF THREAT
AND INTIMIDATION FROM THE RIGHT-WING.


13. (C) OUR CONTACTS MAINTAIN THAT UNLESS CROATIA'S ELITE
BEGINS TO ENFORCE RIGOROUS JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE AND ETHICAL
STANDARDS, CROATIAN JUDGES ARE MUCH MORE LIKELY TO EMULATE
LOZINA RATHER THAN SARIC. UNFORTUNATELY, CHIEF SUPREME COURT
JUSTICE IVICA CRNIC IS NOT A LEADER, AND HE AND OTHER JUDGES
ARE OVERLY SENSITIVE TO OUTSIDE CRITICISM. THEY ARE SLOW TO
DISCIPLINE THEIR OWN, EVEN WHEN IT IS A CASE AS EGREGIOUS AS
JUSTICE LOZINA.



14. (C) IN ADDITION TO ESTABLISHING AND ENFORCING STRICT
JUDICIAL STANDARDS OF PERFORMANCE AND ETHICS, THE GOC ALSO
MUST UNDERTAKE ADDITIONAL LEGISLATIVE REFORMS IF IT IS TO
ENSURE THE EFFECTIVE PROSECUTION OF WAR CRIMES CASES:

-- CROATIAN LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS TELL US THAT THE GOC'S
FAILURE TO PROTECT WITNESSES IS A SEVERE HANDICAP. NEW
WITNESS PROTECTION LEGISLATION HAS BEEN DRAFTED WITH THE
ASSISTANCE OF OUR DOJ/RLA PROGRAM, BUT THE DRAFT LAW AWAITS
GOC APPROVAL BEFORE IT CAN BE SENT TO PARLIAMENT. IT WILL BE
A YEAR, IF NOT LONGER, BEFORE CROATIA HAS THE SEMBLANCE OF A
FUNCTIONAL WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM, THAT IS, ASSUMING THAT

CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL PTQ1814

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 00680 04 OF 04 260701Z
ACTION SWCI-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AMAD-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 INL-00
USNW-00 DODE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EAP-00 EUR-00 VC-00
TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01
NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 DHS-00 PA-00 PM-00
PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SSO-00 SS-00 TRSE-00 T-00
USIE-00 R-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-01 G-00
NFAT-00 SAS-00 /006W


--------------------------

4AD0EE 260701Z /38
P 260700Z MAR 03
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9819
INFO AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY
DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY
USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 04 OF 04 ZAGREB 000680

SIPDIS

STATE FOR S/WCI, EUR/SCE, INL/AAE, EUR/ACE, AND DRL
JUSTICE FOR OPDAT AND ICITAP
SARAJEVO FOR KONTOS AND TILMAN
BELGRADE FOR BROWN
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00680 04 OF 04 260701Z
THE HAGUE FOR JOHNSON/KAYE/WHEATON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/25/2013
TAGS: KAWC KJUS PREL KAWC KJUS PREL KAWC KJUS PREL KAWC KJUS PREL HR HRICTY UNSC
SUBJECT: CROATIA WAR CRIMES: GOSPIC CASE ENDS IN CONVICTION

THE CURRENT DRAFT LAW IS NOT GUTTED DURING GOC AND
PARLIAMENTARY DELIBERATIONS.

-- WITNESSES WHO CHANGE THEIR TESTIMONY FACE NO SANCTION FOR
PERJURY. THE CRIMINAL CODE SHOULD BE STRENGTHENED PENALIZE
AND DETER SUCH ACTIVITY.

-- PROSECUTORS MUST BE GIVEN THE AUTHORITY TO STRIKE
PLEA-BARGAINING DEALS IN CAPITAL CASES.

-- THE GOC AND THE CROATIAN SUPREME COURT MUST DEMONSTRATE
FAR GREATER WILLINGNESS TO TRANSFER WAR CRIMES CASES FROM
TROUBLED JURISDICTIONS TO SAFER LOCATIONS SUCH AS ZAGREB AND
RIJEKA. THE GOC MAY ALSO WISH TO CONSIDER ESTABLISHING A
SINGLE WAR CRIMES COURT THAT WOULD HANDLE ALL CASES AGAINST
BOTH ETHNIC SERBS AND CROATS.

COMMENT


--------------------------





15. (C) THE GOSPIC CASE IS A STEP FORWARD. CROATIAN LAW
ENFORCEMENT AND JUDICIAL OFFICIALS -- WITHOUT ANY OUTSIDE
ASSISTANCE, INDEED, WITHOUT ANY POLITICAL COVER FROM THE GOC
-- SUCCESSFULLY CONCLUDED A TECHNICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY
DIFFICULT WAR CRIMES CASE AND CONVICTED A CROATIAN WAR HERO.
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00680 04 OF 04 260701Z



16. (C) THE CHALLENGE FOR US AND FOR THE FEW REFORMERS WITHIN
THE GOC IS HOW TO LEVERAGE THE GOSPIC RULING TO SUPPORT
EFFORTS TO MAKE LOCAL PROSECUTIONS OF WAR CRIMES FAIR AND
TRANSPARENT. AS A NEXT STEP, WE ARE SCHEDULED TO DISCUSS THE
GOSPIC CASE AND VARIOUS PROPOSALS TO CREATE A SPECIAL WAR
CRIMES COURT WITH MINISTER OF JUSTICE ANTICEVIC-MARINOVIC
APRIL 2.

17 (C) DOMESTIC WAR CRIMES TRIALS CAN DEMONSTRATE THAT THERE
WAS A DARKER SIDE TO CROATIA'S INDEPENDENCE WAR AND HELP
NEUTRALIZE A HOT-BUTTON ELECTORAL ISSUE THAT THE POLITICAL
RIGHT MIGHT OTHERWISE EXPLOIT. ULTIMATELY, LOCAL PROSECUTION
OF WAR CRIMES TRIALS WILL STRENGTHEN THE RULE OF LAW AND HELP
PRODUCE A MORE STABLE AND SELF-ASSURED CROATIA THAT IS
CAPABLE OF TAKING A LEADERSHIP ROLE IN THE REGION. IF
SANADER'S STATEMENT IS ANY INDICATION, WE CAN EXPECT THAT
BAJIC AND OTHER ACTIVISTS WILL BE REMOVED OR SIDELINED AND
THIS IMPORTANT PROCESS WILL STOP, IF CROATIA'S
UNRECONSTRUCTED RIGHT RETURNS TO POWER.
ROSSIN

CONFIDENTIAL

>