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04ZAGREB1025 2004-06-04 17:30:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Zagreb
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041730Z Jun 04
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L  ZAGREB 001025 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/04/2014

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph Frank, Reasons 1.5 (b) & (d)


1. (C) ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte briefed the
diplomatic community on June 4 on her day and a half visit to
Zagreb. Del Ponte said that although Croatia's cooperation
with the tribunal was the best of any country, she had warned
the GoC leadership that she could change her assessment at
any time. Del Ponte supports transferring ICTY indictments
to Croatia for prosecution, beginning with the
soon-to-be-joined Norac and Ademi cases. The ICTY is looking
to the OSCE to monitor the performance of Croatian courts.
However, ICTY Diplomatic liaison Jean-Daniel Ruch separately
warned Ambassador Frank that past, simplistic OCSE
assessments of Croatia's local prosecution capabilities could
bias ICTY President Theodor Meron against approving the
transfer of cases. The assembled ambassadors were wary of
OSCE mission creep, suggesting that the ICTY and OSCE look to
developing local capacities to monitor war crimes cases. END



2. (C) On June 4, ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte
briefed the diplomatic community on the results of her day
and a half visit to Zagreb. Del Ponte reiterated her public
statements that Croatia is fully cooperating with the ICTY,
including the continuing search for fugitive Ante Gotovina.
The GoC has engaged in direct communication with the ICTY and
has responded promptly to requests for assistance. Del Ponte
said she had made it clear to both President Mesic and Prime
Minister Sanader that she would withdraw her positive opinion
if she felt the GoC was slacking off on cooperation,
particularly regarding Gotovina.

3. (C) Del Ponte said that she had complete confidence in
Chief State Prosecutor Mladen Bajic, who is a "brilliant"
prosecutor, in leading the search for Gotovina. Del Ponte
expects the GoC to find Gotovina and to work actively with
other governments to find him if he is not in Croatia. She
said within the next few months she expected the GoC to
either confirm Gotovina was in Croatia or in a specific other
country. Prior to del Ponte's briefing, ICTY Diplomatic
liaison Jean-Daniel Ruch, told Ambassador Frank separately
that President Mesic and Prime Minister Sanader has assured
del Ponte in their meetings that there was absolutely no
interest among Croatian authorities in protecting Gotovina.



4. (C) Chief Prosecutor del Ponte told the diplomatic
community the ICTY was getting ready to transfer the Norac
and Ademi cases, once they had been joined into a single
case. She welcomed the work of Justice Minister Vesna
Skare-Ozbolt to prepare Croatian judges and prosecutors for
this transfer. The issue for the Tribunal was whether the
new special war crimes courts were ready to process
transferred cases. Most of the assembled ambassadors,
including those from Germany, Canada, The Netherlands, and
Ireland, said that despite some concerns, they felt that
Croatia was ready to take on a test case. The only way to
know for sure was to send a case for prosecution.

5. (C) In their separate meeting, ICTY's Ruch told Ambassador
Frank that the transfer of cases could heavily depend on the
OSCE. Ruch complained that the OSCE was the only
organization with a credible capability to assess the
performance of Croatian judiciary. However, the OSCE's
reports for 2002 and 2003 (draft) appeared to be sterile
number crunching exercises, which focused on the performance
of small courts processing locally generated indictments and
did not reflect the capabilities of the four courts
designated to take on ICTY cases. He feared that ICTY
President Theodor Meron would rely only on these reports and
assess that the Croatian judiciary was not ready to take on
ICTY cases. Ruch asked the Ambassador to weigh in with the
OSCE Mission to provide a richer, more dynamic assessment of
the evolving capacities of the four war crimes courts that
would facilitate the transfer of the first test case to



6. (C) Del Ponte welcomed the role of the OSCE in monitoring
local war crimes cases. She noted that the ICTY does not
have the resources to monitor transferred cases, and would
look to the OSCE to assist. German Ambassador Gebhardt Weiss
cautioned against expanding the OSCE's role in Croatia and

urged that Croatian NGOs be helped to grow into this role.
Irish Ambassador Barrie Robinson, speaking on behalf of the
EU, said with 25 member countries, the EU would have an
enhanced capability to perform a monitoring function.

7. (C) OSCE Head of Mission Peter Semneby said that the OSCE
was working with the Ministry of Justice to identify issues
and potential solutions regarding fairness issues in local
prosecutions. That said, he noted that he had told Judge
Meron that for individual cases, there was no reason not to
believe that the Croatian judiciary can handle prosecutions.



8. (C) The ICTY is probably right that there is no realistic
short-term alternative to the OSCE playing a key monitoring
role. However, if our objective in transferring ICTY cases
back to Croatia is to help Croatia come to terms with its own
checkered war legacy, Croatian civil society will have to
play a larger role in monitoring Croatian government
institutions. Longer term, we would agree with the German
view that the OSCE could play a useful role in developing the
capacity of Croatian NGOs to take on the monitoring function.