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Cablegate: War Crimes Prosecutors to Expand Regional

VZCZCXYZ0008
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVB #0768/01 2321014
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201014Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY 1969
RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY 0263
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8034

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000768

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/SCE, S/WCI, INR, INL
DEPT PLEASE PASS TO NSC BRAUN
BELGRADE PLEASE PASS TO OPDAT REP AND PODGORICA
SARAJEVO PLEASE PASS TO OPDAT REP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KAWC PGOV HR WAR CRIMES
SUBJECT: WAR CRIMES PROSECUTORS TO EXPAND REGIONAL
COOPERATION

REF: A. ZAGREB 159
B. 06 ZAGREB 1251
C. 06 ZAGREB 941
D. 06 ZAGREB 898

1. (U) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: Prosecutors from Croatia, Bosnia,
Montenegro, Serbia, and the International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) agreed on new forms of
cooperation in war crimes cases at a private regional meeting
on Brijuni Island July 11-13. Chief State Prosecutor Mladen
Bajic told PolOff August 13 that the prosecutors agreed to
develop criteria for each state to compile a comprehensive
"inventory" of pending war crimes cases. These inventories
will help avoid duplication of investigations, facilitate
determination of the best venue for each case, and guide the
ICTY in rendering increased case development assistance.
Full text of the meeting's recently published conclusions
provided below.

2. (SBU) According to Bajic, the Brijuni meeting represented
movement beyond the OSCE-sponsored "Palic Process," which
helped create a dialogue among regional prosecutors over the
past two years. "We don't need the OSCE to bring us together
any more," Bajic said, pointing to bilateral cooperation
agreements with BiH, Montenegro, and Serbia and evidence
transfer agreements with all but BiH (reftels) as concrete
examples. Under the auspices of Ambassador for War Crimes
Issues Clint Williamson, Post's regional S/WCI office is
organizing a meeting of prosecutors on Hvar Island October
1-4 to advance development of case inventory criteria and
promote inclusion of BiH in evidence transfer agreements.
END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

CALL FOR ASSISTANCE FROM ICTY TRANSITION TEAM
---------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) In light of the scheduled closure of the ICTY in
2010, Bajic said, the meeting focused on convincing ICTY
chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte of the need to staff up her
transition team in order to assist regional prosecutors in
accessing and developing cases from the Tribunal's
five-million document data base. While Bajic's team now
routinely uses ICTY-collected evidence in ongoing
prosecutions, his regional colleagues have had much less
exposure to the data base.

4. (SBU) According to Thomas Osorio, head of ICTY's Zagreb
liaison office, the Brijuni meeting served to alert Del Ponte
to the need to retain knowledgeable staff she would otherwise
let go as ICTY cases wrap up. Bajic stressed the need for
the transition team to be headed by a strong personality with
some regional clout, such as Del Ponte's chief of
investigations Patrick Lopez-Torres.

BiH FACES GREATEST CHALLENGES
-----------------------------

5. (SBU) In pushing for each prosecutor to compile an
inventory of war crimes cases, Bajic admitted that his target
was BiH, which continues to maintain it has 13,500 open
cases. Bajic, who reduced his own case inventory from 4,000
to about 1,100 through a methodical case review that
eliminated duplicate cases and those without evidence or
merit, is convinced BiH could reduce their caseload by 50
percent or more.

6. (SBU) Bajic also expressed interest in concluding an
evidence transfer agreement with BiH, allowing him to
prosecute crimes committed in BiH when an accused Croatian
citizen is apprehended in Croatia and constitutionally cannot
be extradited. Croatia has already transferred evidence in
25 cases to Serbia under a similar bilateral agreement and is
preparing several cases for Montenegro.

7. (SBU) Bosnian courts continue to maintain that anyone
accused of a war crime in BiH should stand trial in BiH, but
constitutions in all of its neighbors forbid extradition of
their own nationals, keeping thousands of cases from moving
forward. Bajic explained that the constitutional changes
that would be required to allow extradition are a political
impossibility for the time being and something that
ultimately must be resolved by politicians rather than
prosecutors. Since he doesn't expect politicians to take
this on during his tenure, he sees evidence transfer
agreements as the only practical way forward in cases where

the accused is exploiting citizenship to avoid justice.

8. (SBU) Bajic stressed that BiH war crimes prosecutor
Jurcevic will face difficult political opposition both in
culling cases and in agreeing to evidence transfer, so the
international community, including S/WCI, Embassy Sarajevo,
and the UN High Rep, will need to publicly support this
effort.

S/WCI HVAR MEETING TO SERVE AS NEXT STEP FORWARD
--------------------------------------------- ---

9. (SBU) COMMENT: S/WCI's October meeting on Hvar Island,
with the support of DOJ's OPDAT program, will serve as a key
opportunity to demonstrate USG support for additional
progress in regional war crimes cooperation. In Croatia,
bilateral cooperation agreements were relatively easy; the
evidence transfer agreements with Montenegro and Serbia were
politically trickier. Asking BiH to drop cases and agree to
transfer evidence in others is an entirely new level of
sensitivity. Post welcomes input from Embassies Sarajevo,
Belgrade and Podgorica as well as OPDAT/Mission participation
on Hvar in October. Post POC is S/WCI FSN Dubravko Bolsec
( 385-1-661-2473, bolsecd@state.gov). END COMMENT.

FULL TEXT OF BRIJUNI CONCLUSIONS
--------------------------------

10. (U) BEGIN TEXT OF CONCLUSIONS:
At the invitation of the Chief State Attorney of the Republic
of Croatia, on 11 through 13 July 2007, the State Attorneys'
(Prosecutor's) Regional Conference; "Cooperation among State
Attorneys' Offices (Prosecutors) in War Crimes Prosecutions -
Current and Future Modes of Cooperation" was held in Brijuni,
Republic of Croatia.

Together with the State Attorneys (prosecutors) from Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia, the ICTY
Chief Prosecutor and the Head of the OTP Transition Team with
their staffs also participated in the conference.

After reviewing the current cooperation and the proposals for
future cooperation, both among the State Attorneys of the
countries of the region as well as with the ICTY Office of
the Prosecutor concerning the war crimes prosecutions and the
matters of mutual support and technical assistance,
participants in the conference agreed on the following;

CONCLUSIONS

A. The participants agreed that the cooperation between the
State Attorneys Offices (prosecution) engaged in the
investigations and prosecution of war crimes was
progressing well. This cooperation was supported to a
significant degree by the Agreements (Memoranda) on
Cooperation that had been signed between the participants
that made possible the efficient and timely exchange of
information and other forms of assistance. It was noted that
additional forms of cooperation and assistance that would be
needed in the future would be the access to documentation and
information from the other national bodies, including
archives, and that the modalities of this information
examination and exchange would be agreed upon at one of the
future conferences.

B. Each national prosecution service needs to enhance its
teams (staff) working on the investigation and war crimes
prosecutions. It is of special importance for each State
Attorney's Office (prosecution) to train part of its staff in
skills needed for electronic database research and other
information retrieval skills.

C. Particularly noted at the conference was the need to avoid
the duplication of investigations and proceedings through the
compilation of a so called "inventory" of cases and the
exchange of information with other prosecutions so as to
determine who would best positioned to process a particular
case. To this end, it is necessary that each State Attorney's
Office (prosecution) compile the so called "inventory" of war
crimes cases according to a mutually agreed criteria that
would be developed in conjunction with the OTP's Transition
Team.

D. The participants agreed that the "Inventory" based on the
mutually agreed criteria and their exchange would improve the

cooperation and assistance in decision making as to who would
process the proceedings in order to avoid duplication of
investigations and cases. This "inventory" would also assist
the ICTY, and in particular the Office of the Prosecutor, in
determining the number and complexity of the cases requiring
the immediate assistance of the Transition Team in gathering
and providing new evidence and documentation in support of
national prosecutions.

E. It is necessary, as part of the ICTY's Completion
Strategy, to provide the assistance of experts in Transition
Teams. The experts would assist State Attorneys (prosecutors)
in national teams and train them in researching the ICTY
databases that would enable the Prosecutions to optimally use
the information both in investigations and proceedings
transferred to them and in the proceedings initiated by them.


F. The participants welcomed the offer by the ICTY Chief
Prosecutor to enhance the OTP's support to the region, via
its Transition Team that would provide improved cooperation,
as well as expertise to respond to the specific needs of the
States Attorneys (prosecutors) engaged in specific cases.
Aware of the ICTY's Completion Strategy, the national
prosecutors urged the ICTY Chief Prosecutor to ensure that
the OTP not only retained, but enhanced its capacity to
respond in a timely manner to their requests for assistance.


G. The State Attorneys (prosecutors) also welcomed the ICTY
Chief Prosecutor's offer to provide training to their staffs
on the use of the ICTY databases for their needs,
underscoring the necessity of immediate and continuing access
to and use of the ICTY materials.

H. The participants agree that it would be productive to
meet, in this format, and the next conference to agree on the
mutual criteria to create lists of war crimes cases will be
set for autumn 2007. END TEXT OF CONCLUSIONS.

BRADTKE

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