Viewing cable 04THEHAGUE975

04THEHAGUE9752004-04-19 15:47:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET Embassy The Hague
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 000975 
REF: A. (A) STATE 84033 
     ¶B. (B) ZAGREB 598 
Classified By: Legal Counselor Clifton M. Johnson per 1.5(d). 
¶1.  (C) Summary.  Carla Del Ponte, Chief Prosecutor of the 
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia 
(ICTY), vigorously defended her positive assessment to EU 
officials of Croatia,s cooperation with the Tribunal.  She 
based her decision on Croatia,s cooperation in recent weeks 
with respect to the transfer of eight indictees under two 
indictments as well as the unprecedented level of involvement 
Croat authorities had accorded ICTY investigators in efforts 
to locate and apprehend fugitive Ante Gotovina.  She believed 
these efforts, although of very recent vintage, to be genuine 
and said that under these circumstances she had "no choice" 
but to inform European Commissioner Verhengen that "Croatia 
is now cooperating fully" with the ICTY.  End Summary. 
¶2.  (C)  Embassy Legal and Deputy Legal Counselors met with 
Chief Prosecutor Del Ponte, Special Political Adviser Ruch, 
and Senior Adviser Nikiforov on the morning of April 16 to 
deliver ref A demarche.  Del Ponte took immediate issue with 
the USG assessment that Croatia could not be given an overall 
positive mark with respect to its full cooperation with the 
Tribunal as long as Gotovina remained a fugitive.  "I 
disagree with the assessment from Washington," she 
interjected and explained that her view towards Croatia had 
changed dramatically in the past month.  She said her new 
assessment was based on Croatia,s cooperation in 
transferring all eight indictees under the two most recent 
Tribunal indictments.  Moreover, Croatia had provided full 
access and cooperation with respect to documents and 
witnesses.  "Even in Bosnia," she said, she had "not been 
able to describe such full cooperation." 
¶3.  (S) With respect to Gotovina, Del Ponte explained that 
the OTP was now being given an unprecedented level of 
involvement in Croat efforts to locate and apprehend him. 
This new cooperation was initiated by a report last month 
from the GOC in which Croatia repeated its previous 
conclusion that Gotovina was not in Croatia.  Del Ponte said 
that the report was "not satisfactory" and informed the 
Justice Minister that "we must work differently because you 
have not done all you must do."  Following this meeting, the 
two agreed that OTP Chief of Investigations Lopez-Terres 
would visit Zagreb and be given full access to information 
developed by a special team that the GOC had established, 
with Chief State Prosecutor Mladen Bajic as its head, to 
locate and apprehend Gotovina.  Subsequently, the GOC removed 
two officials from positions relating to the team after the 
OTP expressed its belief that the two were linked to efforts 
to protect Gotovina.  When the OTP received and passed 
information two weeks ago that Gotovina was in Croatia, the 
GOC immediately reacted to the information and took all of 
the steps requested by the OTP to follow up the lead.  The 
cooperation between the OTP and the special team extends to 
Croat implementation of ICTY requests to monitor the 
communications of certain individuals.  The ICTY is also 
provided with direct access to the transcripts resulting from 
those intercepts.  This degree of OTP involvement in the 
Croat efforts has convinced Del Ponte that the measures to 
apprehend Gotovina are "no doubt" genuine. 
¶4.  (C) Del Ponte dismissed suggestions that her unqualified 
report to the EC had squandered OTP leverage over Croatia and 
further hampered efforts to obtain cooperation from SAM on 
Mladic.  She said that her upcoming written report to the 
Security Council on May 31 and her oral statement on June 15 
provide an opportunity to qualify the positive assessment if 
the Croatian attitude changes.  She said that she had 
emphasized this point to PM Sanader.  In a separate 
discussion with Ruch and Nikiforov they also advised that Del 
Ponte planned to both call and write Sanader in the next few 
days to underscore that cooperation must continue with 
respect to Gotovina or Del Ponte would provide a negative 
report to the Security Council. 
¶5.  (C) Del Ponte similarly rejected criticism that she had 
played into the hands of SAM critics by changing the standard 
for full cooperation.  In response to Legal Counselor,s 
point that Del Ponte had said that "full cooperation" for SAM 
requires the transfer of Mladic while "full cooperation" for 
Croatia apparently doesn,t require the transfer of Gotovina, 
Del Ponte asserted that there was no similarity between the 
state of cooperation in the two countries and that Belgrade 
had not come close to establishing a good faith effort to 
apprehend Mladic.  Del Ponte said that were SAM to take the 
steps taken by the GOC, she would be prepared to find them in 
"full cooperation" with the ICTY even if their efforts did 
not result in the transfer of Mladic.  Del Ponte also 
distinguished the two fugitives noting that Gotovina was a 
criminal before the war crimes charges, was part of an 
international criminal network, and had many foreign contacts 
that made it more difficult for him to be caught, while 
Mladic was more inseparable from Belgrade.  Concluding, Del 
Ponte asserted that rewarding Croatia would actually help 
ICTY efforts in Serbia by demonstrating the tangible benefits 
of cooperating with the Tribunal. 
¶6.  (C) Comment.  Del Ponte,s dramatic and precipitous 
reassessment of the OTP,s relationship with Croatia can be 
explained by both substance and personality.  Substantively, 
Croatia,s conduct in facilitating the recent transfers is 
undeniably important as is its responsiveness on ICTY 
witness, document, and fugitive-apprehension related requests 
(see ref B).  But the change in OTP policy was less one of 
deliberate design than it was impulsive and unpremeditated. 
Del Ponte,s senior advisers informed us that they had 
drafted a carefully nuanced set of points for her 
conversation with Verhengen in order to balance out the 
desire to send a positive signal to the GOC while retaining 
important leverage over Gotovina.  During the call, however, 
she abandoned the points and gave the largely unqualified 
assessment.  When Verhengen requested it in writing, she was 
boxed in and her staff was left with drafting a much more 
forward-leaning message than planned.  As for the political 
consequences, Del Ponte,s approach can be explained by her 
consistent tone-deafness to the region and her response to 
the UK,s demarche the previous day on the same subject: 
"The political aspects are for you to worry about."  End