Five days after the Appeals Chamber delivered its judgment acquitting Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac with a three-to-two majority, the Tribunal’s chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz issued a statement
On behalf of the Office of the Prosecutor and victims whose ordeal ‘has not been acknowledged’ chief prosecutor Brammertz expressed his disappointment with the outcome of the appellate proceedings. Brammertz indicated his office would ‘consider’ filing a motion for a review of the appellate judgment. Under the Tribunal’s rules, a motion for review can be filed one year after the appellate judgment is rendered, if the parties can show there are new facts that they were not aware of during the appellate proceedings.
The Tribunal’s chief prosecutor indirectly urged Croatia to start prosecuting crimes committed during Operation Storm using the evidence that the OTP in The Hague will place at its disposal. Brammertz expressed his hope that the Croatian judiciary would ‘live up to its obligations’.
Brammertz finally urged the Tribunal to ‘reflect’ on the issues raised in the dissenting opinions of judges Pocar and Agius about the application of ‘coherent standards’ in the appeals proceedings and ‘giving appropriate deference to a trial chamber’s factual findings’. Such a reflection, in Brammertz’s view could be a ‘catalyst to further strengthening the international justice system’.
Here is the full version of the chief prosecutor’s statement.
The statement of the Prosecutor in relation to the Gotovina and Markač Appeals Judgment:
“My Office has carefully studied the Judgment rendered by the ICTY Appeals Chamber in the case of Gotovina and Markač on Friday 16 November 2012.
My Office is disappointed by the outcome of the Judgment, which reverses the convictions against Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markac entered unanimously by the three judges of the Trial Chamber. We are aware that those affected by crimes committed in connection with Operation Storm are not satisfied by the outcome and feel their suffering has not been acknowledged.
Throughout the appeal proceedings, my Office explained to the Appeals Chamber why we believe the evidence was sufficient to support the Trial Chamber’s convictions.
In the end, three out of the five Appeals Chamber judges saw it differently, resulting in the acquittal of Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markac on all counts of the Indictment.
As a party to the proceedings, we have to respect the result of the Appeal Judgment. International criminal justice – and the rule of law more generally– must rest on the fundamental building block of respect for the judicial process.
As in all cases, my Office will consider review proceedings if the necessary conditions are met.
We will also make sure that evidence collected by my Office will remain available to judicial authorities in the former Yugoslavia to facilitate national prosecutions for the crimes committed in connection with Operation Storm. We trust that the judicial authorities in Croatia will live up to their obligations.
The dissenting opinions from two of the Appeals Chamber judges – Judge Agius and Judge Pocar – have identified important issues arising out of the Majority’s Judgment for the ICTY to reflect on. These issues have also been the focus of attention by commentators external to the ICTY in the days following the Judgment. The issues include ensuring coherent standards of appellate review, assessing the evidence on the record in its totality and giving appropriate deference to a trial chamber’s factual findings.
Reflection on these matters is important and hopefully, in the end, will be a catalyst for further strengthening the international justice system.”