Croatia: Luka Misetic Responds As Serb Denials Of Crimes Take New Form

Luka Misetic Photo: Davor Puklavec/PIXSELL

Luka Misetic
Photo: Davor Puklavec/PIXSELL

Well, July was a disquieting month for justice at the UN Security Council. Serbia’s lobby with Russia had resulted in Russia’s veto on the British instigated motion to call the 1995 Srebrenica massacres genocide! And so, the verdicts delivered by the UN Security Council appointed International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) officially became as valuable and as respected as a veto of one member state of the Security Council is worth! Denials can take one far these days, it seems!

In line with the appalling Serb denials of genocide and the horrendous crimes they committed in the aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during 1990’s it was to be expected that Croatian Serbs and their wicked supporters were going to stage some outrageous display of denials ahead of the 20th Anniversary of Operation Storm that liberated Croatia from Serb occupation and aggression in August of 1995; just as they did with the 20th commemoration of Srebrenica genocide in July.

And so, it came – the ugly beast of denials, political corruption, lies and attempts to pervert the truth in the form of launching an interactive narrative named “Storm in the Hague” (webpage)! Those responsible for this launch on Friday 31 July 2015 in Zagreb, Croatia, are the Documenta association in Croatia (an organisation supposedly dealing with confronting the truth of history but in reality twists that history to promote bias and lies against Croatia), the Serbian National Council (led by Milorad Pupovac) and, as I and multitudes see it, the ultimately biased and politically corrupt SENSE Agency – Centre for transitional justice.

The ICTY concluded the following: 1.     There was no Joint Criminal Enterprise from the Croatian side.  2.     Krajina Serbs were not deported from Croatia by the Croatian  authorities but left Croatia out of other reasons  not associated with any Croatian officials'  illegal behaviour;  3.     Not only that the Croatian authorities did not permit crimes  against  Serbs and Serbs' property,  but they were actively  against those crimes;    4.   It's confirmed that 20,000 houses were not burned  after Operation Storm. The number is probably closer to 5,000,  and that, in both Sectors, North and South.      5.     The judgment has found that a total of 44 civilians  were killed by the Croatian forces, not 320 as the Prosecution claimed,  not 600 as HHO claimed and  especially not 2,000 as claimed by „Veritas“ i Savo Strbac. 6.     There were no politics of non-investigation of crimes by the Croatian  authorities.  7.     The housing laws after Operation Storm were not  in a collision with the international humanitarian law.

The ICTY concluded the following:
1. There was no Joint Criminal Enterprise from the Croatian side.
2. Krajina Serbs were not deported from Croatia by the Croatian
authorities but left Croatia out of other reasons
not associated with any Croatian officials’
illegal behaviour;
3. Not only that the Croatian authorities did not permit crimes
against
Serbs and Serbs’ property,
but they were actively
against those crimes;
4. It’s confirmed that 20,000 houses were not burned
after Operation Storm. The number is probably closer to 5,000,
and that, in both Sectors, North and South.
5. The judgment has found that a total of 44 civilians
were killed by the Croatian forces, not 320 as the Prosecution claimed,
not 600 as HHO claimed and
especially not 2,000 as claimed by „Veritas“ i Savo Strbac.
6. There were no politics of non-investigation of crimes by the Croatian
authorities.
7. The housing laws after Operation Storm were not
in a collision with the international humanitarian law.

Many in Croatia and abroad consider (rightfully) that the interactive narrative “Storm in the Hague” is an attempt to belittle and nullify the ICTY Appeal Chamber verdict of 16 November 2012 in the case of Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, which had found that as far as the Croatian war efforts were concerned there was no Joint Criminal Enterprise, no excessive artillery shelling and no ethnic cleansing of Serbs.

I would think that the saddest thing about this twisting of the final verdict in the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to suit the Serb denials of crimes and their aggression is that the Croatian taxpayers fund to a large extent the work of these organisations that twist the truth

Mr Luka Misetic, Ante Gotovina’s US based defense lawyer at the ICTY trial promptly addressed on his blog and in the Croatian media concerning and disquieting aspects of this launch of the interactive narrative “Storm in the Hague”. I have translated into the English language Mr Misetic’s address and here it is:

 

Today (31st July), in Croatia, there was a SENSE Agency and Serbian National Council launch of the presentation “Storm in the Hague”. As it was to be expected the presentation purposefully covers up that which the Hague Tribunal found in its judgments in the case of Gotovina (Ante Gotovina, Croatian General).

HOW DID THE HAGUE TRIBUNAL ANSWER TO ALL THESE QUESTIONS?
1. Were Serbs deported from Croatia?
2. Did the Croatian authorities purposefully permit crimes such as murders, plunder and arson in order to deny the Serbs the possibility of returning to Croatia?
3. Were there more than 20,000 homes burned after Storm in the Southern part of the liberated territory?
4. Did the Croatian forces kill more than 600 Serbs during and after Operation Storm?
5. Did the Croatian judicial authorities and the police practice the politics of non-investigation of crimes?
6. Have illegally discriminatory housing laws been introduced?
7. Finally, did the Joint Criminal Enterprise exist in Croatia?

1. WERE SERBS DEPORTED FROM CROATIA?

Firstly, we need to correct some misunderstandings regarding the Trial Chamber judgment in which General Gotovina received a 24 year prison sentence. The Tribunal had concluded that Krajina Serbs were deported ONLY from 4 towns: Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac. So, only from those four places.

The Tribunal had concluded that Serb civilians from all other places in the so-called Krajina had left Croatia out of other reasons not associated with any illegal treatmen by the Croatian authorities. Those legal reasons for leaving were:
• “Serbian Republic of Krajina” officials had called upon the population to leave the areas (Trial Chamber judgment paragraph 1762);
• The fear of aggression usually associated with armed conflict (Trial Chamber judgment paragraph 1762);
• Generalised fear from the Croatian forces and disstrust in Croatian authorities (Trial Chamber judgment paragraph 1762); and
• The fact that other Serbs were leaving had caused the effect of some civilians deciding to leave with them (Trial Chamber judgment paragraph 1754, 1762).

Hence, the Hague Tribunal had even in its Trial Chamber judgment found that a huge majority of Serb population from the so-called Krajina had left Croatia out of its own reasons, and that the Croatian authorities were not responsible for that. Only the four said towns were questionable for the Trial Chamber.
2. DID THE CROATIAN AUTHORITIES PERMIT CRIMES:

The Trial Chamber had explicitly rejected the claims that the Croatian authorities had purposefully permitted crimes such as arson, plunder and killings in order to deny the Serbs the possibility of return:

2321. The Trial Chamber found that the common objective of the so-called Criminal enterprise did not amount to, or involve the commission of the crimes of persecution (disappearances of people, wanton destruction, plunder, murder, inhumane acts, cruel treatment, and unlawful detentions), destruction of property, plunder, murder, inhumane acts, and cruel treatment.

Moreover, the Court tribunal did not only find that Croatia did not permit such crimes, but it also found that the Croatian leadership had actively opposed the perpetration of such criminal acts:

2313. However, the evidence, in particular the statements made at meetings and in public reviewed in chapters 6.2.2-6.2.5, does not
indicate that members of the Croatian political and military leadership intended that property inhabited or owned by Krajina Serbs should be destroyed or plundered. Further, it does not indicate that these acts were initiated or supported by members of the leadership. Rather, the evidence includes several examples of meetings and statements (see for example D409, P470, and D1451), indicating that the leadership, including Tudjman, disapproved of the destruction of property. Based on the foregoing, the Trial Chamber does not find that destruction and plunder were within the purpose of the joint criminal enterprise.

3. Were 20,000 homes burned in the South Sector?

This claim was thoroughly discredited at the hearing. This hypothesis, which has constantly been repeated in the past 15 years, is based upon wrong claims made in the 1999 report by the HHO (Croatian Helsinki Committee) on Operation Storm in which HHO claimed that the Canadian General Alain Forand, UN forces chief commander based in Knin, stated that 22,000 houses were burned in the South Sector. The reality is that Forand stated that a total of 22,000 houses in South Sector were inspected, and not that they were burned. The truth regarding the number of burned houses in the liberated area is most likely closer to the report by the UN General Secretary in December 1995: about 5,000 of houses and stables in Sectors North and South were burned after Operation Storm.
4. Did the Croatian forces kill 600 civilians during and after Operation Storm?

This also is a usual claim perpetuated all the time in the media. However, the Prosecution had claimed that about 320 civilians were killed in Sector South, and not 600. The Trial Chamber had found that out of these 320, 44 were killed by members of the Croatian armed forces. The number of Serb civilians killed by Croatian forces is closer to 44 than 600.

5. Did the Croatian judicial authorities and police practice the politics of non-investigation of crimes?

The Court Tribunal had rejected this allegation, which is being repeated in the media all the time, even today, and, after the Appeal decision. In paragraph 2203 of its judgment the Trial Chamber found the following:

The evidence reviewed indicates that some investigatory efforts were made, but with relatively few results. Moreover, there are
indications in the evidence that at the political level, these efforts were motivated at least in part by a concern for Croatia’s international standing rather than by genuine concern for victims. In light of the testimony of expert Albiston, the Trial Chamber considers that the insufficient response by the Croatian law enforcement authorities and judiciary can to some extent be explained by the abovementioned obstacles they faced and their need to perform other duties in August and September 1995. In conclusion, while the evidence indicates incidents of purposeful hindrance of certain investigations, the Trial Chamber cannot positively establish that the Croatian authorities had a policy of non-investigation of crimes committed against Krajina Serbs during and following Operation Storm in the Indictment area.
These are the main findings of the Trial Chamber. As we all know, some parts of this judgment have remained disputable given that General Gotovina was sentenced to 24 years (and General Markac to 18) due to Trial Chamber’s conclusion that General Gotovina had executed illegal artillery attacks against the towns of Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac.

That’s why we needed to wait for the final verdict by the Appeals Chamber regarding the disputed matters left from the Trial Chamber judgment, and that final judgment arrived on 16 November 2012. (Acquitting the Croatian generals of all charges).

Appeals Chamber verdict

6 and 7. Joint Criminal Enterprise and housing laws

There was no Joint Criminal Enterprise on the Croatian side. The Appeal Chamber had quashed Trial Chamber judgment on that count, concluding that the Krajina Serbs were not deported from Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac, and with that, the Croatian authorities did not deport the Krajina Serbs nor did the Joint Criminal Enterprise involving the Croatian leadership, especially Franjo Tudjman, Gojko Susak, Zvonimir Cervenko, Ante Gotovina, Jure Radic and Mladen Markac – exist.

Furthermore, after the Appeal Chamber verdict, it can be concluded that the Croatian leadership did not pass discriminatory housing laws after Operation Storm (see firstly the Government regulation and then the Temporary assumption and administration of certain property Act/Government Gazette NN 073/1995). That is, the Trial Chamber had found that those housing laws were in breach of the international law as they were introduced after the Serbs from Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac were deported from Croatia. However, given that the Appeals Chamber had quashed the finding that the Serbs were displaced, that is deported, the conclusion that housing laws passed after Operation Storm were in contravention of the international humanitarian law must also be quashed.

 

Croatia's Capital Zagreb  Prepares For The 20 Anniversary Of Operation Storm and Liberation From Serb Occupation Military Parade and Celebrations of Independence to be held 4th August 2015 Photo: FAH

Croatia’s Capital Zagreb
Prepares For The 20 Anniversary
Of Operation Storm and
Liberation From Serb Occupation
Military Parade and Celebrations of Independence
to be held 4th August 2015
Photo: FAH

 

TO SUMMARISE

The ICTY concluded the following:

1. There was no Joint Criminal Enterprise from the Croatian side.

2. Krajina Serbs were not deported from Croatia by the Croatian authorities but left Croatia out of other reasons not associated with any Croatian officials’ illegal behaviour;

3. Not only that the Croatian authorities did not permit crimes against Serbs and Serbs’ property, but they were actively against those crimes;

4. It’s confirmed that 20,000 houses were not burned after Operation Storm. The number is probably closer to 5,000, and that, in both Sectors, North and South.

5. The judgment has found that a total of 44 civilians were killed by the Croatian forces, not 320 as the Prosecution claimed, not 600 as HHO claimed and especially not 2,000 as claimed by „Veritas“ i Savo Strbac.

6. There were no politics of non-investigation of crimes by the Croatian authorities.

7. The housing laws after Operation Storm were not in a collision with the international humanitarian law.”

Written and Translated from the Croatian language by Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

The Joint “Criminal” Enterprise Against Judge Theodor Meron

Judge Theodor Meron, President of International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Judge Theodor Meron, President of International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Reblogged from Misetic Law

The Joint “Criminal” Enterprise Against Judge Theodor Meron

The Inside Story of How Carl Bildt, Intelligence Agencies from the Nordic countries, Serge Brammertz, Florence Hartmann, Mirko Klarin And Others Are Connected to the “Controversy” Designed to Discredit the ICTY’s President, Judge Theodor Meron
By Luka Misetic
As controversy continues to engulf the ICTY as a result of Judge Fred Harhoff’s seemingly senseless email, over the past week I have been asked the same question repeatedly.  Journalists, former prosecutors, defense attorneys, friends and relatives have all asked me the exact same question:
“What is going on here?”
Allegations are flying, from the pages of the New York Times to the website of the BBC to the cafeteria inside the ICTY itself, that the ICTY’s President, Judge Theodor Meron, has been corrupted by the government of the United States.  Judge Fred Harhoff passed along these rumors to 56 of his “closest friends”, thus triggering the “controversy.”[1]  Of course, there has not been a single shred of evidence to support this claim.  Nevertheless, the “story” continues to be driven by several individuals, many with close connections to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICTY.
This blog post is my attempt to begin to answer to that often repeated query: “What is going on here?”  As I will explain in great detail below, the interests of many with an agenda against Judge Meron and/or Ante Gotovina have aligned, including current and former members of the Office of the Prosecutor, foreign intelligence services who have/had operatives inside the Office of the Prosecutor, a number of journalists, and the government of Serbia, among others.  Their objective is to so thoroughly discredit Judge Meron that they will (1) force his removal as President of the ICTY; (2) discredit the acquittals of Gotovina, Markac, Perisic, and Jovica Stanisic and create such an unbearable political climate that the judges will somehow reverse their acquittals even after final Judgement, and (3) in the case of former Prosecution spokeswoman Florence Hartmann, discredit her conviction for contempt of the Tribunal (of which all eight judges of the ICTY who reviewed her case found her guilty, unanimously).
In short, I argue that we are witnessing a Joint “Criminal” Enterprise unfolding against Judge Meron (the “crime” in this case being his defamation).  The “common purpose” of the Meron JCE is to destroy Judge Meron’s reputation so as to discredit the acquittals of Gotovina, Markac, and Perisic.    ICTY precedent holds that such a JCE can exist even if the participants in it have never formally agreed to such a conspiracy, and indeed even if they do not know of each other’s existence.  (See Gotovina Trial Judgement, page 985).  What is important is that they all share the same goal: to discredit Theodor Meron.
I.               Introduction
To understand “what is going on here,” some basic facts about Operation Storm and the Gotovina case must be established at the outset. First point:  Judges Meron, Robinson and Guney got it right when they acquitted Gotovina.  Contrary to the Prosecution’s novel theory at trial, and Judge Orie’s Trial Judgement based on his invented “200 Meter Standard” (which all five Appeals Chamber judges agreed was erroneous), the Serbs from “Krajina” were not ethnically cleansed by an unlawful artillery assault launched by Ante Gotovina.
I do not intend to re-litigate the Gotovina trial here.  In summary, the Prosecution argued at trial that the Serbs were deported from Croatia because they were allegedly terrorized into leaving by Gotovina’s merciless artillery assault on civilians and civilian objects.  But if you ask Serge Brammertz today whether the Prosecution has ever been able to identify (1) a civilian killed or injured by artillery shelling during Operation Storm or (2) a civilian who claimed to have left the “Krajina” due to fear of artillery shelling, Brammertz will concede to you that they were never able to find any such person.  There are no known victims of the alleged unlawful artillery assault or of the so-called “Brioni JCE” led by Croatian President Franjo Tudjman.  Judges Meron, Robinson and Guney overturned a 24-year conviction of a man where the Prosecution could not establish a single JCE victim.  In any domestic jurisdiction, it would be Orie’s Trial Judgement and not the Appeals Chamber’s Judgement that would be deemed the controversial decision.  But for many at the ICTY, this is merely an inconvenient truth.[2]
Ironically, former Prosecution spokeswoman Florence Hartmann wrote a book in 1999 titled “”Milosevic: la diagonale du fou (Milosevic: Diagonal of a Madman),” in which she argued that the “Krajina” Serbs were cleansed by Milosevic, not Tudjman.  In a chapter titled the “Abandonment of Krajina,” the book details why the “Krajina” Serb population left Croatia during Operation Storm.  Hartmann, a journalist covering the war for Le Monde at the time of Operation Storm, asserted, “every refugee could confirm that the population had fled at the request of their own [Krajina Serb] leadership.” Further, she wrote that every soldier was a witness to the deliberate withdrawal of the Serbian military, the officers abandoning the night shift at the front and the retreat of heavy armor. She describes the whole process as the  “strategic abandonment” of ‘Krajina’ by Milosevic and the entire Serbian leadership.
Accordingly, even Hartmann knows that Judges Meron, Robinson and Guney were right to strike down the Trial Chamber’s finding that Gotovina deported the “Krajina” Serbs through unlawful shelling. Nevertheless, Hartmann is one of the principle members of the “Meron JCE,” attempting to undermine Judge Meron in an effort to discredit her own conviction for contempt of the Tribunal.
II.             The Role of Foreign Intelligence Services Inside the ICTY’s Office of the Prosecutor
In the early years of the Tribunal, the ICTY did not have the resources to hire its own staff in large numbers.  Therefore, many of the prosecutors, analysts and investigators working for OTP in the 1990’s were “on loan” to the ICTY from their own governments.   In her book, “Peace and Punishment,” Florence Hartmann reveals that some of the “on loan” personnel were really intelligence agents working more for their home governments than the ICTY.  On page 47 of the Croatian edition of the book, Hartmann describes certain members of the Prosecution staff:
Some barely know where the Balkans even is. They are hounding the Prosecution, the moving force of the Tribunal, whose judges have been subdued to the position of arbitrators between the Defense and the Prosecutors. Military analysts, lawyers and intelligence officers easily blend in the crowd continuing to occupy humble yet strategic positions and serving more to their own governments than the ICTY.
This background information leads us to two Nordic intelligence agents named Joakim Robertsson (Sweden) and Thomas Elfgren (Finland), who became ICTY Prosecution investigators and whose stories are interwoven into the Gotovina case and the recent “Meron JCE.”
III.           Carl Bildt and the Gotovina Case
Intelligence agencies from the Nordic countries became heavily involved in the Gotovina case in order to protect the reputation of Sweden’s top diplomat, Carl Bildt.
Within 9 hours of the commencement of Operation Storm, Bildt, then acting in his capacity as the European Union’s chief peace negotiator in ex-Yugoslavia, issued a press release in which he declared that because the Croatian Army had “shelled the civilian population” in the town of Knin, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman would be brought before the ICTY.[3]  Bildt was in London when he sent this release and had no first hand information to support the claim.
After the Croatian takeover of the “Krajina,” international journalists descended on the town of Knin in order to find the evidence of Bildt’s claim that the Croatians had “shelled the civilian population.”  The international press unanimously concluded that the allegation was false:  there was no evidence of any unlawful shelling.  Pulitzer prize winner Roy Gutman reported from Knin on August 7th, 1995, three days after Storm began:
At the United Nations base in Knin, UN officers chaffed at a continued curfew and restrictions on movements, but they acknowledged that the UN had overstated the damage to Knin during the height of fighting. The UN commander, Brigadier-General Alain Forand of Canada had said that there had been no direct hits on Knin’s hospital. Reporters saw … large craters from shells that shattered most of the windows in a nearby apartment house but there was no evidence of indiscriminate shelling.[4]
Similarly, the New York Times reported:
The town does not appear to have been as badly damaged as reports of the shelling over the past few days would have suggested. For one thing, the hospital was not shelled, as had been reported. Only one shell hit the modern hospital building, and the Croats appeared to be aiming at a rebel Serbian tank firing from nearby, a United Nations official who had been at the hospital said today. “I don’t think they were shelling us,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. In three passes over the town by helicopter, little evidence was seen of the kind of damage that extensive shelling would cause. The red tile roofs on most houses are intact. The only gutted building was the Roman Catholic Church, which served the Catholic Croats, and the Serbs, who are Orthodox, did that during their occupation.[5]
Finally, United Nations Military Observers conducted their own investigation into the shelling of Knin.  On 17 August 1995, they reported that the shelling had been “concentrated against military objectives,” and that only 3 to 5 shells could be found outside the vicinity of military objectives.[6]
Accordingly, the United Nations and the international media had both investigated Bildt’s claims that Tudjman’s forces had “shelled the civilian population,” and concluded that they were unsubstantiated.
In reaction to Bildt’s call for Tudjman to be indicted by the ICTY, Croatia declared Bildt to be persona non grata in Croatia.[7]  Bosnia-Herzegovina quickly followed suit.[8]
Bildt thus found himself in the role of the EU’s top peace envoy but unable to travel to Croatia or be received by Bosnia-Herzegovina officials due to his status as persona non grata.  Bildt acknowledges this in his memoirs, even recounting that Croatia had refused his plane landing rights at the airport in Split as a result of the dispute.[9]  With Bildt and the E.U. on the sidelines, Richard Holbrooke took over as the primary international negotiator with the parties in ex-Yugoslavia and ultimately became the architect of the Dayton Peace Accords.
IV.           Nordic Intelligence To Bildt’s Rescue:  Robertsson and Elfgren Join the ICTY to Investigate Tudjman and Storm
When Operation Storm began on 4 August 1995, Joakim Robertsson was a Swedish military intelligence officer stationed in Zagreb as part of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR). [10]   Three weeks later, while Bildt was persona non grata in Croatia, Robertsson was sent by Sweden from Zagreb to the ICTY to be the ICTY Prosecution’s lead investigator into the shelling conducted in Operation Storm. Within weeks, Robertsson was joined by Thomas Elfgren, an agent with Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation who was loaned to the ICTY as an “Expert on Mission” to assist Robertsson in the Prosecution’s “investigation” of Operation Storm.[11]
The task given to Robertsson and Elfgren was simple.  They were to build the case that Bildt’s allegations against Tudjman were true by proving that the Croatian Army had indiscriminately shelled civilians, at Tudjman’s direction and on Gotovina’s orders.  Robertsson and Elfgren stopped at nothing to vindicate Bildt by making sure that Tudjman and his generals would be indicted for the alleged unlawful shelling of Knin.   Robertsson went so far as to fabricate evidence in the Gotovina case, and should have been criminally prosecuted for obstruction of justice.  (For a full discussion of Robertsson’s fabrication of evidence, see http://icr.icty.org/LegalRef/CMSDocStore/Public/English/Response/NotIndexable/IT-06-90/MSC7260R0000280559.pdf).
V.             Elfgren and Robertsson Leaked Information to the New York Times in 1999 Alleging Gotovina Indictment Was Rejected Due to U.S. Conspiracy
Elfgren and Robertsson failed to convince their colleagues in the Office of the Prosecutor that the shelling of Knin was unlawful.  The Prosecution in 1998 held an Indictment Review and concluded that the evidence was insufficient to include a charge of unlawful shelling in any indictment for Operation Storm.  This should not have come as a surprise given that (1) the United Nations investigation in the immediate aftermath of Storm confirmed the lawfulness of the shelling; (2) on site investigations by international media including the New York Times confirmed the same; and (3) the Prosecution could never identify a single shelling victim.
Having failed to fulfill the mission with respect to Bildt, Elfgren and Robertsson concluded that the failure of their case was not because of the lack of evidence, but because of a conspiracy led by the United States government to impede the investigation of Operation Storm.  Elfgren leaked an internal Prosecution assessment to the New York Times, spinning that the U.S. was blocking the Operation Storm investigation.[12]
Prosecutor Louise Arbour responded to the leak by stating that the Prosecution would conduct an internal investigation to determine the source of the leak.[13] Arbour’s investigation ultimately concluded that Elfgren was the source of the 1999 leak to the New York Times, which Elfgren himself confirmed to me via email recently.
Elfgren and Robertsson never had any evidence that the United States was blocking an indictment for the use of artillery in Operation Storm.   There was no charge for unlawful shelling because there was no evidence of unlawful shelling.  Indeed, even when the Prosecution ultimately indicted Gotovina in 2001, it did not include a charge that the Krajina Serbs were ethnically cleansed due to unlawful shelling.  Instead, the Prosecution charged that the Krajina Serbs were deported because the crimes committed after Operation Storm had prevented their return.[14]  It was not until 2006, after Gotovina’s arrest that the Prosecution first charged that the Serbs had been ethnically cleansed from Croatia due to the shelling attack.
VI.           Elfgren and Robertsson Attack Judge Meron
Elfgren and Robertsson left the ICTY before the judgements in the Gotovina case were issued.  After the Appeals Chamber’s acquittal of Generals Gotovina and Markac in November 2012, Prosecutor Serge Brammertz travelled to Helsinki, Finland where he appeared on a panel discussion with Elfgren on 22 January 2013 at Helsinki University.[15]  In his speech addressing Brammertz, Elfgren once again complained that Gotovina had been protected by the United States:
One could argue, with a fairly good reasoning, that the ICTY, at the very outset, failed to fulfill its intended purpose. The Tribunal posed no threat to the perpetrators. The Srebrenica massacre, also known as the Srebrenica genocide serves as an example. The widespread killings and forced displacement of the Krajina Serbs in August 1995 is just another one. Many more could be mentioned…
Criminal justice system professionals have their focus on technically perfect decisions. Too often they pay too little attention on the material truth and the importance of reconciliation. Truth and reconciliation should be on top of the agenda when peace and security is at stake.
In 1995, in the corridors of the ICTY, there were influential elements who knew that no crimes were committed by the Croats during Operation Storm. My question is, how could they know this?
Mr. Prosecutor, you did your utmost to prove the opposite, but you failed. The appeals chamber, in its recent decision shared the view with those who already had the answer in 1995. [16]
Elfgren and Robertsson did not stop with this speech in January 2013.  Instead, as they had done in 1999 in leaking to the New York Times, the two began their campaign to discredit Gotovina’s acquittal by acting as anonymous sources to Helsinki’s leading newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat.  One would not typically look to the Helsingin Sanomat for hard-hitting investigative journalism about the inner-workings of the ICTY in The Hague, but Elfgren turned to his local paper first.
On 14 April 2013, Helsingin Sanomat published a sensationalist piece claiming that the United States had influenced the Tribunal into acquitting Gotovina.[17]  Having participated in the Gotovina case and thus having had access to all confidential materials in the case, I can state with certainty that the article in Helsingin Sanomat was filled with outright lies that are intended to create the perception that the United States attempted to influence the ICTY in the Operation Storm case.  For example, the article claims that the CIA withheld satellite imagery concerning Operation Storm in an effort to protect Gotovina, despite U.S. denials that such imagery exists.  The author of the article reports that his sources (read: Elfgren and Robertsson) dispute the U.S. denial because “the investigators had previously received one satellite picture from the Canadian Colonel Leslie, which he had been given by the Americans. “ Leslie never produced such a picture and never claimed to have such a picture.  If he had, I as Gotovina’s Defence Counsel would know.
The article goes on to claim that my fellow Gotovina Defence Counsel, Greg Kehoe, “opposed” the investigation of Gotovina back during the time when he worked for the ICTY Prosecution.  This is an outright lie.  The Gotovina Trial Chamber thoroughly investigated whether Greg had a conflict of interest, reviewed all of the Prosecution’s internal memoranda, and concluded that Greg had no involvement in the Operation Storm case.[18]  Given that Greg was prosecuting a Croatian general (Blaskic) during his time at the ICTY, it is preposterous to suggest that he was secretly protecting one Croatian general (Gotovina) while successfully prosecuting another (Blaskic). Remarkably, the article mentions that the lawyer who prosecuted Gotovina, Alan Tieger, is also an American, suggesting that Tieger is somehow complicit in the U.S. conspiracy to protect Gotovina.
Interestingly, the Helsingin Sanomat article ghost written by Elfgren and Robertsson is the first to attack Judge Meron on the basis of Wikileaks cables from 2003.  Sanomat suggests that Judge Meron spoke to the U.S. Ambassador in 2003 in an effort to get rid of Carla Del Ponte in 2003 because she had indicted Gotovina.  Two months later in June 2013, other members of the “Meron JCE” have recycled the Wikileaks cables as new “news”[19] in an effort to discredit Judge Meron following a leaked email written by, guess who?
The ICTY’s lone Nordic Judge, the Scandinavian Judge Frederik Harhoff of Denmark.
End of Part I

Coming up in Part II, I will describe the roles of Florence Hartmann and Mirko Klarin of Sense News Agency in the Meron JCE, and how and why Serge Brammertz is knowingly using the members of the Meron JCE in an effort to topple the ICTY’s President.

[1] For my deconstruction of Harhoff’s email, see my earlier blog post:  Debunking Fred Harhoff’s Outrageous Email, http://miseticlaw.blogspot.com/2013/06/debunking-fred-harhoffs-outrageous-email.html
[2] For further discussion on why the Appeals Chamber was correct to acquit Gotovina, see my earlier blog post here: http://miseticlaw.blogspot.com/2012/12/dissenting-from-dissenting-opinions-of.html
[4] Newsday, In Krajina, Disorder Reigns, (8 August 1995).
[5] New York Times, “Croats Celebrate Capturing Capital of Serbian Rebels”(8 August 1995).
[9] Carl Bildt, Peace Journey, pages 75-80.
[10] See paragraph 4 and Annexes A and B here:  http://icr.icty.org/LegalRef/CMSDocStore/Public/English/Submission/NotIndexable/IT-06-90/MSC7260R0000280212.pdf . See also Robertsson’s LinkedIn Profile here: http://fr.linkedin.com/pub/joakim-robertsson/4/3b0/879.  Note that Robertsson on his LinkedIn CV has left out the year from September 1995 to August 1996, and claims to have only worked for OTP from September 1996 to September 1997.  In fact, Robertsson worked for OTP from September 1995 to September 1997.  See, e.g., Trial Exhibit P-214 at page 1: http://icr.icty.org/LegalRef/CMSDocStore/Public/English/Exhibit/NotIndexable/IT-06-90/ACE81081R0000320324.TIF.
[11] See Trial Exhibit P-721, demonstrating Elfgren’s status at ICTY as of December 1995: http://icr.icty.org/LegalRef/CMSDocStore/Public/English/Exhibit/NotIndexable/IT-06-90/ACE81779R0000321386.TIF
[12] New York Times, War Crimes Panel Finds Croat Troops Cleansed the Serbs, 21 March 1999, as found at http://www.nytimes.com/1999/03/21/world/war-crimes-panel-finds-croat-troops-cleansed-the-serbs.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
[14] See Gotovina 2001 Indictment, at paragraphs 19-20; Gotovina 2004 Amended Indictment, at paragraphs 23-24 and 36-37.

[19] See Agence France-Presse, Wikileaks Cables Support Criticism of ICTY Judge, 18 June 2013, as found at http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130618/wikileaks-cables-support-criticism-icty-judge

 

Luka Misetic    Photo: Darko Tomas/Cropix

Luka Misetic Photo: Darko Tomas/Cropix

About Luka Misetic: Lawyer, based in the United States of America. Luka Misetic represents clients in state, federal and international litigation, including commercial, civil, white-collar criminal and international criminal cases. In business litigation, Mr. Misetic represents corporations and partnerships, as well as their directors, officers and partners in breach of contract and fiduciary duty claims, regulatory matters, trade secrets claims, fraud and negligence suits, and a variety of other claims. Mr. Misetic represented Croatian General Ante Gotovina before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, The Netherlands

 

If ICTY Majority Judges Sat At Nuremberg, Most Nazi Leaders Would Be Free

Memorial cemetery for victims of Vukovar Hospital 1991 massacre Photo: Associated Press

Memorial cemetery for victims of Vukovar Hospital 1991 massacre
Photo: Associated Press

It is said that the ICTY will close shop in 2014. There are still cases pending completion both in Trial and Appeal Chambers. Judging from the length of time previous cases had taken to completion it’s obvious that one year is nowhere near enough for due process to be satisfied under same conditions. ICTY’s “exit plan” or completion strategy may involve referral of cases to other existing international jurisdictions, create new mechanisms for dealing with the remainder of cases, refer cases to “local” jurisdictions in countries of the region, etc.  Whatever happens one thing should be kept in mind: due process deserves and demands similar conditions to those provided to completed cases.

Besides delivering its farcical and grotesque judgment against the 6 Croats from Herceg-Bosna (and the long deceased Croatian leadership headed by Franjo Tudjman)  on 29 May, on 30 May the ICTY Trial Chamber proved that its reasoning and judgment are indeed as grotesque as grotesque can possibly get.

On 30 May it brought down its decision in the case of Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic – Serbs who were charged with having directed, organised, equipped, trained, armed and financed units of the Serbian State Security Service which murdered, persecuted, deported and forcibly transferred non-Serb civilians from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Croatia between 1991 and 1995.

The majority of Trial Chamber, Judge Picard dissenting, acquitted of all charges Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, former Chief of the Serbian State Security Service and former employee of the Serbian State Security Service.

The Chamber today found that those units committed the crimes of deportation, forcible transfer and murder at numerous locations in those two countries, and that they constitute persecution as a crime against humanity.
However, the Chamber found that Stanisic and Simatovic cannot be held criminally responsible for these crimes. After analysing evidence, the majority, Judge Picard dissenting, was unable to conclude that the accused shared the intent to further the common criminal purpose of the joint criminal enterprise. The Chamber also found that it was not proven beyond reasonable doubt that Stanisic or Simatovic planned or ordered the crimes. With regard to the allegations of aiding and abetting, the majority determined, Judge Picard dissenting, that in the instances that the two accused rendered assistance to the special units, this assistance was not specifically directed towards the commission of crimes”.

The decision (Judgment Summary PDF here) comes as a shock, to put it mildly.  It’s a second shock delivered by ICTY Trial Chamber within one week!

The records and evidence clearly show that Stanisic and Simatovic had been leaders in the ethnic cleansing enterprise of non-Serb population, had known that subordinates were committing crimes, and had done nothing to stop them.
The facts of the times covered by this case, the facts of Serb aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are at distressing disagreement with this ICTY decision. The ICTY decision does not match factual history. It was actually forced deportations (ethnic cleansing) of non-Serb population that marked the start of the war. In Croatia these crimes were committed by Croatian Serb paramilitary forces and Jugoslav Peoples Army orchestrated and led by its Belgrade headquarters.

The ICTY Trial Chamber, amidst all the evidence pointing to Serbia’s involvement in the joint criminal enterprise against Croatia (and Bosnia and Herzegovina) and all the possible affirming conclusions it could have safely made from those facts, for its finding of exonerating Serbia of participating in joint criminal enterprise, evidently relied quite a bit on the fact that Serbia had not provided to the court any documentary or otherwise evidence as to the content of the meetings held in Belgrade between the accused and Serbia’s leadership, including Slobodan Milosevic!
The Chamber noted that it had not received evidence about what was discussed at the meeting called by Stanisic…”, at 27 min 41 sec in ICTY Trial Chamber video of 30 May 2013 below.

Yet, in the case against the 6 Croats of Herceg-Bosna on 29 May 2013 the ICTY Trial Chamber took it upon itself to convict defenceless dead men (Croatian leaders Franjo Tudjman, Janko Bobetko, Gojko Susak, Mate Boban) of “planning and executing a joint criminal enterprise against Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, even though ample evidence before them, the dissenting opinion of a judge on the panel, clearly shows this not to have been the case!

The ICTY Trial Chamber judges in both cases took it upon themselves, it seems, to take a gambit view of evidence they did not have. They maneuvered the non-existence for the court of discussion contents of meetings in Serbia organised by Stanisic to benefit Serbia and they took the non-existence of dead Croatian leaders testimony to maneuver it against Croatia!

The bias and the latitudes of inferences the ICTY Trial judges (except the dissenting ones) in both cases have given themselves are staggering and, to quote attorney Luka Misetic – grotesque.

This is really grotesque of the Hague tribunal. I was speechless that after 20 years the Hague tribunal arrived at this conclusion,” said Luka Misetic, who defended Croatian general Ante Gotovina before the UN court.

The madness emanating from the ICTY Trial Chamber, especially during the past couple of years, which can be taken as the years when politically motivated shaping of history of the war at the break up of former Yugoslavia has acquired and suffered from repeated panic attacks in pursuit of equating the aggressor with the victim, in pursuit of creating aggressors from those who defended themselves from aggression, ignoring to address aggression (such as employment of jihadist Mujahedins in Bosnia and herzegovina …, is so massive that it strikes one dumbfounded. And so, having that in mind, I cannot but agree with John Shattuck of the Boston Globe (War Crimes Whitewash)
The tribunal ruling eviscerated the doctrine of command responsibility, a central principle of international criminal law. This principle was first applied by the Nuremburg tribunal established after World War II to judge the responsibility of Nazi leaders for crimes committed by the Nazi regime. If the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia majority had been sitting at Nuremberg, few, if any, Nazi leaders would have been convicted”.

Engulfed by this madness, by this injustice, by the terrifying power many ICTY Trial Chamber judges have evidently given themselves in interpreting evidence to suit political agendas, one takes solace from the ICTY Appeal Chamber and its potential for truth worthy jurisprudence in these cases. That yet needs to come, but having in mind that the closure of ICTY is apparently imminent for 2014, with yet indefinite ways as to how the cases in progress will be dealt with thereafter, the fret for justice continues.   Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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