THE HAGUE | 21.10.2005.

JUDGES GRANT LEAVE TO AMEND OPERATION STORM INDICTMENT

The amended indictment against Croatian Army generals Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac will be submitted to the Chamber by 10 November 2005, with new allegations about the "colonization of Krajina" and a plan to "psychologically intimidate" the Serbs. The issue of the legality of Operation Storm is "irrelevant" for the case of the two accused generals, in the judges' view

Judge Carmel Agius granted leave to the prosecution to amend the indictment against the former Croatian Army generals, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac, accused of the crimes committed in the course of and after Operation Storm in 1995. The prosecution must submit the amended indictment to the Chamber by 10 November at the latest.

Apart from the amendments ordered by the judges, the amended indictment will contain new allegations: about the existence of a plan pursuant to which the Krajina region was to be "urgently colonised with Croats" and about the use of propagandistic techniques to "intimidate psychologically the Krajina Serbs ".

In accordance with the previous requests of the Chamber, the list of participants in the joint criminal enterprise is extended and contains more details. In addition to Franjo Tudjman, Janko Bobetko, Gojko Susak, Zvonimir Cervenko and Ante Gotovina, now it lists "various officials, members of the Croatian government and political structures at all levels (including in municipal governments and local organizations), various leaders and members of the HDZ, various officers and members of the armed forces of the Republic of Croatia, including the Army and Air Force, the Special Police and intelligence services, and other persons, both known and unknown".

The prosecution now has to state clearly, in the final version of the indictment, if all Croatian forces involved in Operation Storm committed the crimes in furtherance of the Joint Criminal Enterprise or whether this allegation is confined to those Croatian forces that were under the command of Cermak and Markac. The defense filed a preliminary motion objecting to the language used in the original indictment, claiming that Prosecution "considers the whole Operation Storm a criminal endeavour and every participant as a war criminal". The Chamber rejected this defense argument as "premature" and the issue of the legality of Operation Storm as "irrelevant" for the case at hand.

The amended indictment will state in greater detail the ties between Ivan Cermak and Franjo Tudjman, the power and responsibility Markac as the commander of the Special Police possesed over members of the Special Police Force and will specify Mladen Markac´s activities in furtherance of the Joint Criminal Enterprise.

The time frame and the geographical scope f the indictment have been changed too. The starting date of the joint criminal enterprise is pushed back from 4 August 1995 to the month of July of the same year and the number of municipalities in which crimes were committed is cut down from eleven to seven.

In accordance with the Rules of Procedure, the accused will be given an opportunity to enter their plea on the new charges.