Viewing cable 03ZAGREB790
Title: ASSISTING CROATIA TO STRENGTHEN DOMESTIC WAR

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03ZAGREB7902003-04-09 16:01:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Zagreb
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 SECTION 01 OF 03 ZAGREB 000790 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR S/WCI, EUR/SCE, INL/AAE, EUR/ACE, AND DRL 
JUSTICE FOR OPDAT AND ICITAP 
SARAJEVO FOR KONTOS AND TILMAN 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        ZAGREB  00790  01 OF 03  091557Z 
BELGRADE FOR BROWN 
THE HAGUE FOR JOHNSON/KAYE/WHEATON 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/09/2013 
TAGS: KAWC KJUS PREL EAID KJUS PREL EAID KJUS PREL EAID HR HRKAWC UNSC ICTY
SUBJECT: ASSISTING CROATIA TO STRENGTHEN DOMESTIC WAR 
CRIMES PROSECUTIONS: RECOMMENDED WAY AHEAD 
 
REF: A. ZAGREB 761 
 
     ¶B. ZAGREB 756 
     ¶C. ZAGREB 680 
     ¶D. 02 ZAGREB 2853 
     ¶E. MJANIS - RSILBERSTEIN 4/4 EMAIL 
     ¶F. 02 ZAGREB 1721 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: POLOFF ROBERT SILBERSTEIN, REASON 1.5 (B) AND (D) 
 
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATION 
--------------------------- 
 
¶1. (C) MINISTER OF JUSTICE ANTICEVIC-MARINOVIC TOLD US ON 
APRIL 2 THAT THE GOC IS COMMITTED TO PASSING QUICKLY 
LEGISLATION THAT WOULD IMPROVE THE ABILITY OF CROATIAN COURTS 
TO PROCESS WAR CRIMES.  NOTWITHSTANDING THE MINISTER'S 
ASSURANCES, OTHER KEY PLAYERS -- INCLUDING THE DRAFTER OF THE 
MOST CURRENT VERSION OF THE DOMESTIC WAR CRIMES LEGISLATION 
-- WERE SKEPTICAL THAT A WAR CRIMES BILL WOULD SEE THE LIGHT 
OF DAY SOON.  THEY TOLD US THE GOC, IN AN ELECTION YEAR, IS 
TOO SKITTISH TO ACT IN THE FACE OF OPPOSITION FROM THE 
RIGHT-WING AND FROM JUDGES (ONE OF CROATIA'S MOST 
REFORM-RESISTANT GUILDS). 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        ZAGREB  00790  01 OF 03  091557Z 
 
¶2. (C) AS WE HAVE REPORTED (REFS C AND D), WITHOUT A 
STRENGTHENED LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK AND STRONG POLITICAL 
SUPPORT, CROATIA'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IS LARGELY 
INCAPABLE OF PROSECUTING WAR CRIMES FAIRLY AND EFFECTIVELY. 
THE BOTTOM LINE FOR US IS THAT WITHOUT THE FRAMEWORK THAT NEW 
LEGISLATION WOULD PROVIDE, THE USD TWO MILLION IN REGIONAL 
SEED ASSISTANCE THAT THE DEPARTMENT HAS IDENTIFIED FOR A 
CROATIA WAR CRIMES PROJECT COULD NOT BE USED EFFICIENTLY. 
 
¶3. (C) THE TIME IS NOT RIPE FOR A VISIT OF A LARGE TECHNICAL 
TEAM OF EXPERTS TO ZAGREB TO DEVELOP A WAR CRIMES ACTION PLAN 
FOR THE SEED FUNDING:  THE TEAM HAS NO CONCRETE BASIS ON 
WHICH TO WORK.  HOWEVER, A RETURN VISIT OF S/WCI AMBASSADOR 
PROSPER TO ZAGREB IN EARLY- TO MID-MAY COULD HELP PRESS THE 
GOC TO MOVE FORWARD WITH DOMESTIC WAR CRIMES LEGISLATION AND 
ADVANCE OUR BROADER ICTY COMPLETION STRATEGY.  SUCH A VISIT 
WOULD BE PARTICULARLY TIMELY NOW THAT THE GOC HAS TAKEN 
POSITIVE STEPS TO CORRECT THE COURSE OF ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH 
THE ICTY TRIBUNAL (REFS A AND B).  END SUMMARY. 
 
PRESSING THE GOC ON DOMESTIC WAR CRIME PROSECUTIONS 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
¶4. (C) WE MET ON APRIL 2 WITH MINISTER OF JUSTICE INGRID 
ANTICEVIC-MARINOVIC AND ASSISTANT MINISTER OF JUSTICE FOR 
CRIMINAL AFFAIRS DUBRAVKO PALIJAS TO REVIEW GOC PLANS TO 
IMPROVE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF DOMESTIC WAR CRIMES TRIALS.  WE 
TOLD THE MINISTER THAT, PURSUANT TO S/WCI AMBASSADOR 
PROSPER'S DISCUSSIONS IN ZAGREB IN JULY 2002 (REF F), THE USG 
HAS IDENTIFIED USD TWO MILLION IN ASSISTANCE TO SUPPORT 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        ZAGREB  00790  01 OF 03  091557Z 
CROATIAN EFFORTS.  WE TOLD THE MINISTER THAT WASHINGTON IS 
PREPARED TO DISPATCH A TEAM OF EXPERTS TO DEVELOP A 
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FOR THE FUNDS THAT WE WOULD PRESENT TO THE 
GOC FOR COMMENT AND APPROVAL.  HOWEVER, AS A FIRST STEP, WE 
WANTED TO GET A BETTER SENSE OF WHERE THE GOC STANDS IN 
PASSING LEGISLATION THAT WOULD FACILITATE LOCAL PROSECUTIONS 
AND THE WORK OF THE EXPERT TEAM. 
 
¶5. (C) WE TOLD THE MINISTER THAT DESPITE THE POSITIVE 
HANDLING OF THE GOSPIC WAR CRIMES TRIAL (REF C), WE CONTINUED 
TO HAVE SERIOUS RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE ABILITY OF THE 
CROATIAN COURTS TO PROSECUTE SENSITIVE WAR CRIMES FAIRLY AND 
IMPARTIALLY.  FROM OUR VANTAGE POINT, ONE POSSIBLE SOLUTION 
WOULD BE TO CREATE A SINGLE WAR CRIMES COURT WITH HAND-PICKED 
JUDGES.  SUCH AN APPROACH WOULD ALLOW THE USG -- AND POSSIBLY 
OTHER DONORS -- TO CHANNEL ASSISTANCE EFFICIENTLY.  WE ALSO 
TOLD THE MINISTER THAT LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES MUST BE 
GIVEN STRENGTHENED TOOLS TO INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE WAR 
CRIMES.  IN PARTICULAR, THE GOC NEEDS TO PASS WITNESS 
PROTECTION LEGISLATION, AND TO GIVE PROSECUTORS MORE FREEDOM 
TO CONCLUDE PLEA BARGAINING AGREEMENTS WITH COOPERATIVE 
WITNESSES. 
 
¶6. (C) ANTICEVIC-MARINOVIC TOLD US THAT THE GOC HAS BEEN 
DEBATING VARIOUS CONCEPTS OF A WAR CRIMES COURT FOR OVER TWO 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ1092 
 
PAGE 01        ZAGREB  00790  02 OF 03  091558Z 
ACTION SWCI-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AF-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 
      INL-00   USNW-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  SRPP-00  DS-00    EAP-00 
      EB-00    EUR-00   E-00     VC-00    TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00 
      LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00  NSCE-00  OIC-02 
      OMB-02   DHS-00   PA-00    PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00 
      SCT-00   SP-00    SSO-00   SS-00    TRSE-00  USIE-00  ECA-00 
      PMB-00   DSCC-00  PRM-00   DRL-01   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00 
        /007W 
                  ------------------530F7F  091558Z /38 
P 091601Z APR 03 
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9917 
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 03 ZAGREB 000790 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR S/WCI, EUR/SCE, INL/AAE, EUR/ACE, AND DRL 
JUSTICE FOR OPDAT AND ICITAP 
SARAJEVO FOR KONTOS AND TILMAN 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        ZAGREB  00790  02 OF 03  091558Z 
BELGRADE FOR BROWN 
THE HAGUE FOR JOHNSON/KAYE/WHEATON 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/09/2013 
TAGS: KAWC KJUS PREL EAID KJUS PREL EAID KJUS PREL EAID HR HRKAWC UNSC ICTY
SUBJECT: ASSISTING CROATIA TO STRENGTHEN DOMESTIC WAR 
CRIMES PROSECUTIONS: RECOMMENDED WAY AHEAD 
 
YEARS.  IN FACT, ONE APPROACH, CONCEIVED BY A/M PALIJAS IN 
DECEMBER 2002, CALLED FOR THE CREATION OF A SINGLE WAR CRIMES 
COURT IN ZAGREB.  THE MINISTER SAID THAT SHE REJECTED THAT 
PROPOSAL BECAUSE IT WOULD REQUIRE THE GOC TO HIRE MORE JUDGES 
IN ZAGREB TO HANDLE THE ADDITIONAL WORKLOAD.  THE MOJ DOES 
NOT HAVE THAT ADDITIONAL FUNDING.  RATHER, SHE ENVISIONED 
CENTRALIZING WAR CRIMES PROSECUTIONS IN CROATIA'S FOUR MAJOR 
URBAN CENTERS:  ZAGREB, SPLIT, RIJEKA AND OSIJEK.  TO PREVENT 
BIASED JUDGES FROM RECEIVING WAR CRIMES CASES -- AS OCCURRED 
IN THE LORA WAR CRIMES TRIAL FIASCO (REF D) -- THE WAR CRIMES 
BILL WOULD GRANT THE PRESIDENT OF THE SUPREME COURT SPECIAL 
AUTHORITY TO TRANSFER CASES BETWEEN JURISDICTIONS AND TO 
SELECT THE JUDGES THAT WOULD TRY THE CASES. 
 
¶7. (C) THE MINISTER SAID THAT CROATIAN WAR CRIMES EXPERT, 
PROFESSOR IVO JOSIPOVIC, HAS BEEN TASKED WITH DEVELOPING A 
NEW DRAFT DOMESTIC WAR CRIMES BILL.  HIS DRAFT SHOULD BE 
READY BY THE END OF APRIL, ANTICEVIC-MARINOVIC SAID.  SHE 
ANTICIPATED THAT THE GOC WOULD APPROVE THE DRAFT SOMETIME IN 
MAY AND THEN FORWARD IT TO PARLIAMENT FOR APPROVAL UNDER 
"URGENT PROCEDURE," MEANING THAT THE LAW COULD BE ADOPTED BY 
MID-2003.  ADDITIONALLY, A WITNESS PROTECTION BILL -- DRAFTED 
IN COOPERATION WITH OUR DOJ/OPDAT RESIDENT LEGAL ADVISOR -- 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        ZAGREB  00790  02 OF 03  091558Z 
IS PENDING BEFORE THE GOC FOR APPROVAL. 
 
¶8. (C) AFTER OUR OPTIMISTIC MEETING WITH THE MINISTER, WE MET 
SEPARATELY WITH A/M PALIJAS.  DISPLAYING A RARE BURST OF 
EMOTION AND ANGER, PALIJAS (PROTECT) CRITICIZED HIS MINISTER 
AND THE GOC ON ITS APPROACH TO WAR CRIMES LEGISLATION. 
PALIJAS SAID THAT ANTICEVIC-MARINOVIC INITIALLY AGREED THAT 
HIS SINGLE WAR CRIMES COURT PROPOSAL WOULD BE THE MOST 
EFFICIENT WAY TO STRENGTHEN LOCAL WAR CRIMES PROSECUTIONS. 
THE GOC REJECTED HIS APPROACH, NOT BECAUSE OF FINANCIAL 
CONCERNS, BUT BECAUSE THE GOC FEARS A SINGLE WAR CRIMES COURT 
WOULD BE A POLITICAL LIGHTNING ROD, HE EXPLAINED.  PALIJAS 
ALSO WAS SKEPTICAL THAT THE GOC WOULD PUT A DOMESTIC WAR 
CRIMES BILL ON THE SABOR FAST TRACK IN AN ELECTION YEAR.  HE 
SAID HE WOULD BE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED IF THE LAW WERE PASSED 
BY SEPTEMBER. 
 
¶9. (C) FOLLOWING UP ON OUR DISCUSSIONS IN THE MINISTRY OF 
JUSTICE, WE MET ON APRIL 3 WITH PROFESSOR JOSIPOVIC.  LIKE 
PALIJAS, JOSIPOVIC WAS PESSIMISTIC ABOUT THE GOC APPROVING A 
WAR CRIMES BILL ANY TIME SOON.  HE ADDED THAT "THE GOC DOES 
NOT KNOW WHAT IT WANTS OTHER THAN TO ENSURE THAT THE BILL 
DOES NOT HAVE A HIGH POLITICAL PROFILE." 
 
¶10. (C) JOSIPOVIC SAID THAT HE PLACES MUCH OF THE BLAME ON 
THE COURTS FOR THE GENERAL FAILURE OF THE CROATIAN CRIMINAL 
JUSTICE SYSTEM TO TRY WAR CRIMES EFFECTIVELY.  IN PARTICULAR, 
SUPREME COURT PRESIDENT IVICA CRNIC HAS FAILED TO DEMONSTRATE 
LEADERSHIP AND REIN IN RIGHT-WINGERS IN THE COURTS. 
CONSEQUENTLY, JOSIPOVIC'S DRAFT BILL WILL GIVE PROSECUTORS, 
NOT THE SUPREME COURT, THE RIGHT TO DECIDE IN WHICH 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        ZAGREB  00790  02 OF 03  091558Z 
PARTICULAR JURISDICTION TO TRY A WAR CRIMES CASE.  JOSIPOVIC 
EXPECTED STRONG OPPOSITION TO HIS DRAFT FROM THE 
INWARD-LOOKING JUDICIARY IN ADDITION TO THE EXPECTED CARPING 
FROM THE RIGHT-WING. 
 
COMMENT AND RECOMMENDATION 
-------------------------- 
 
¶11. (C) THE GOC HAS BEEN WORKING FITFULLY ON A SPECIAL WAR 
CRIMES COURT FOR THE PAST TWO AND HALF YEARS.  IN THAT TIME, 
WE HAVE SEEN THREE DIFFERENT DRAFTS, ALL WITH THEIR PLUSSES 
AND MINUSES.  WHILE, IN OUR JUDGMENT, THE SINGLE ZAGREB-BASED 
COURT WOULD BE THE BEST OPTION, ANY OF THE OPTIONS THAT THE 
VARIOUS GOC DRAFTERS DEVELOPED WOULD PROVIDE US WITH AN 
ADEQUATE FRAMEWORK IN WHICH TO CHANNEL OUR ASSISTANCE.  THE 
BOTTOM LINE IS THAT, ALTHOUGH THE MINISTER'S ASSURANCES THAT 
THE GOC IS COMMITTED TO PASSING QUICKLY SPECIAL WAR CRIMES 
LEGISLATION ARE WELCOME, UNTIL A DRAFT LAW IS APPROVED BY THE 
GOC AND FORWARDED TO PARLIAMENT, THERE IS NO BASIS FOR US TO 
MOVE FORWARD WITH AN ASSISTANCE PLAN.  ABSENT SPECIAL WAR 
CRIMES LEGISLATION THAT CREATES THE RIGHT FRAMEWORK FOR US TO 
TARGET OUR ASSISTANCE, WE RUN THE RISK OF FRITTERING AWAY OUR 
SCARCE ASSISTANCE DOLLARS. 
 
¶12. (C) PER REF E, THE FY03 SEED FUNDS THAT WILL SUPPORT OUR 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ1090 
 
PAGE 01        ZAGREB  00790  03 OF 03  091558Z 
ACTION SWCI-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AF-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 
      INL-00   USNW-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  PERC-00  SRPP-00  DS-00 
      EAP-00   EB-00    EUR-00   E-00     VC-00    TEDE-00  INR-00 
      IO-00    LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00  NSCE-00 
      OIC-02   OMB-02   DHS-00   PA-00    PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00 
      P-00     SCT-00   SP-00    IRM-00   SSO-00   SS-00    TRSE-00 
      USIE-00  ECA-00   PMB-00   DSCC-00  PRM-00   DRL-01   G-00 
      NFAT-00  SAS-00     /007W 
                  ------------------530F8C  091558Z /38 
P 091601Z APR 03 
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9918 
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 03 ZAGREB 000790 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR S/WCI, EUR/SCE, INL/AAE, EUR/ACE, AND DRL 
JUSTICE FOR OPDAT AND ICITAP 
SARAJEVO FOR KONTOS AND TILMAN 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        ZAGREB  00790  03 OF 03  091558Z 
BELGRADE FOR BROWN 
THE HAGUE FOR JOHNSON/KAYE/WHEATON 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/09/2013 
TAGS: KAWC KJUS PREL EAID KJUS PREL EAID KJUS PREL EAID HR HRKAWC UNSC ICTY
SUBJECT: ASSISTING CROATIA TO STRENGTHEN DOMESTIC WAR 
CRIMES PROSECUTIONS: RECOMMENDED WAY AHEAD 
 
CROATIA DOMESTIC WAR CRIMES INITIATIVE ARE "TWO YEAR" MONIES. 
 TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE, WE WOULD HAVE UNTIL LATE SPRING 2004 
TO OBLIGATE THEM.  THIS GIVES US SOME FLEXIBILITY TO ALLOW 
THE GOC TO FOLLOW THROUGH AND DEVELOP WORKABLE WAR CRIMES 
LEGISLATION BEFORE SENDING A TEAM OF EXPERTS TO ZAGREB. 
 
¶13. (C) AT THIS STAGE, WE RECOMMEND THAT S/WCI AMBASSADOR 
PROSPER RETURN TO ZAGREB IN EARLY- TO MID-MAY.  SUCH A VISIT 
WOULD HELP US TO LAY THE GROUNDWORK FOR A FUTURE EXPERT TEAM 
VISIT BY PRESSING THE GOC TO MOVE FORWARD WITH DOMESTIC WAR 
CRIMES LEGISLATION.  AMBASSADOR PROSPER'S RETURN WOULD BE 
PARTICULARLY TIMELY NOW THAT THE GOC HAS TAKEN POSITIVE STEPS 
TO COMPLY WITH OUTSTANDING OTP DOCUMENT REQUESTS, COMPLIED 
WITH ICTY ORDERS IN THE BOBETKO CASE AND ARRESTED ICTY 
FUGITIVE IVICA RAJIC (REFS A AND B). 
ROSSIN 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
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