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Cablegate: Visit of S/Wci Williamson to Zagreb

VZCZCXRO4413
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0426/01 1611153
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091153Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8377
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 000426

DEPT FOR EUR/SCE HOH AND BALIAN
DEPT FOR S/WCI WILLIAMSON
DEPT FOR INR/MORIN
NSC FOR BRAUN

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KAWC ICTY PREL PGOV HR
SUBJECT: VISIT OF S/WCI WILLIAMSON TO ZAGREB

REF: (A) ZAGREB 385; (B) ZAGREB 410

1. (U) SUMMARY: Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Clint Williamson
visited Zagreb on June 2. He met with Assistant Justice Minister
Markotic to discuss the status of Croatian cooperation with the
ICTY. Markotic defended Croatia against recent claims by the ICTY
prosecutor that the GoC is only "partially" cooperating with the
ICTY on providing documents. A subsequent meeting with Assistant
Foreign Minister Pjer Simunovic covered remaining issues before the
UNSC related to the ICTY close-out plan and efforts at the UN to
promote cooperation by other countries on war crime prevention and
with international tribunals, with Simunovic indicating the GoC's
priorities are in line with U.S. goals on both issues. Opposition
MP and legal expert Ivo Josipovic was less sanguine about Croatia's
judicial capacity or the media's ability to cover such cases, but
agreed that the GoC was genuine in its cooperation with the ICTY. A
final session with Deputy Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor covered both
sets of topics, confirming high-level political support for the
points made earlier by Markotic and Simunovic. END SUMMARY.

ICTY COOPERATION
---------------

2. (U) Gordan Markotic, Assistant Minister of Justice for
Cooperation with International Courts, told Amb. Williamson that
Croatia remained committed to full cooperation with the ICTY, and
expressed dissatisfaction with ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz's
recent evaluation that Croatia was only "partially cooperative" with
the ICTY. (REF A) Under Brammertz's predecessor, Carla del Ponte,
Markotic noted, Croatia had been assessed as "generally cooperative"
for several years.

3. (U) At issue is the GOC's willingness to obtain a specific set of
documents relating to the Gotovina trial. Markotic explained that
the level of cooperation has not changed, but rather the ICTY's
perception of the GOC's ability to obtain these documents. We have
done everything within our power to find them, Markotic explained,
noting that PM Sanader had ordered the Ministry of Defense (MOD) to
open its archives, that the MOD was conducting an internal
investigation to find those documents, and that the GOC had
continually proven its willingness to cooperate. To emphasize his
last point, he noted that the GOC has fulfilled 787 out of the
ICTY's 788 requests for information, the exception being these
documents. The documents in question were reprinted in a book about
General Janko Bobetko and relate to artillery use during Operation
Storm. Markotic estimated that they are neither critical to the
defense nor the prosecution. He told Williamson that his office is
surprised by the downgraded evaluation, noting that Croatia advised
the ICTY over a year ago that they could not find the documents and
that nothing has changed since then. He said that they were
perplexed as to how to resolve the issue when they in good faith
cannot locate the documents.

UN ISSUES
---------

4. (SBU) With Assistant FM Simunovic, Amb. Williamson reviewed three
key issues under review in the UNSC Working Group on the legacy of
the international tribunals. These are the final location of the
tribunal archives, how to address any indictees that may still be
fugitives when the tribunal concludes its work, and encouraging
effected governments to professionally handle their responsibilities
to try war crimes. On the archives, Williamson said the USG was
still awaiting the report of Justice Goldstone on the issue and that
the outcomes may differ regarding the ICTR and the ICTY, but that in
the latter case, we were leaning toward a "neutral" venue.
Simunovic commented that the GoC was clearly in favor of a neutral
venue.

5. (SBU) On prosecution of fugitives, Williamson noted that the USG
favored ensuring there was some residual capacity to at least try
Mladic and Karadzic internationally, perhaps with an ad hoc panel
drawn from former ICTY justices. For the remaining two fugitives,
Zupljanin and Hadzic, prosecution in the region might be acceptable,
but in that case we would prefer that the cases be tried in the
countries where the alleged crimes were committed, meaning Croatia
for Hadzic and B-H for Zupljanin. Simunovic responded that Croatia
could understand the need for an international tribunal for at least
Karadzic and Mladic, but if domestic prosecution was needed then the
Croatian courts had shown they had the capacity, as demonstrated by
the recently concluded Ademi-Norac trial (REF B). He added that, in
the context of the work of the OSCE office in Croatia, the
government supported the development of capacity in domestic civil
society to monitor war crimes trials. He said he believed both
domestic NGOs and the media had made great progress toward effective
monitoring of such proceedings.


ZAGREB 00000426 002 OF 002


6. (SBU) Regarding local governments' responsibilities to try war
crimes, Amb. Williamson praised the efforts by the Croatian State
Prosecutor to streamline cases, eliminate outstanding poorly
documented indictments, reduce duplication, and promote evidence
sharing and other forms of cooperation among regional prosecutors.
He noted that the USG was working to promote several of these steps
as a model to other prosecutors. We also needed to ensure that the
prosecutors' practical experience in implementing these steps was
reflected in governments' deliberations at the UN on handling such
issues. Simunovic reaffirmed that Croatia was clear on its role
vis-a-vis the ICTY, and was determined to continue cooperation, "not
just to serve as a model to others, but because it is the best thing
for our own interests." Simunovic added that Croatia also felt
strongly that conditionality regarding war crimes cooperation needs
to be upheld, and that it would urge continued conditionality for
Serbia as well, particularly in the EU context.

7. (U) In response to Amb. Williamson's plug for greater Croatian
engagement in war crimes prevention and response efforts such as the
Global Futures Forum or the Justice Rapid Response Project,
Simunovic indicated the GoC would be interested in exploring ways
that it might share its expertise on war crimes investigations and
related issues with others. In the context of the UNSC, Simunovic
noted that Croatia wanted to be among the key actors pushing for
international justice in Darfur, Lebanon and elsewhere, so these
projects would be consistent with Croatia's broader policies.

AN OPPOSITION PERSPECTIVE
----------------------

8. (U) Over lunch, opposition Member of Parliament and law professor
Ivo Josipovic was less upbeat about the capabilities of the Croatian
judicial system than either Assistant Minister had been. Josipovic
agreed that the Ademi-Norac trial had been well-handled, but he said
other trials had not gone as well, and that the State Prosecutor's
Office remained heavily influenced, or at least constrained, by the
government. He acknowledged a significant quantity of media
reporting on war crimes trials, but felt it was of poor quality,
although he said that domestic NGOs monitoring the trials were doing
good quality work.

9. (U) In a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, Amb.
Williamson stressed the progress that Croatia had made in resolving
issues with the ICTY. He noted the downgraded assessment being
offered by the Prosecutor, though, and urged the government to work
with the Tribunal to address this matter. More broadly, Williamson
acknowledged that Croatia had made tremendous progress in the years
since the war, reflected by Croatia's path toward NATO and the EU
and the country's membership in the UN Security Council. He said
that this evolution could serve as a positive model for other
countries emerging from conflict or ethnic hostilities. He urged
Croatia to get more involved in ongoing genocide/war crimes
prevention initiatives such as the Global Futures Forum and Justice
Rapid Response, suggesting that Croatia's experience recovering from
the 1990's conflict would add value to these processes. Kosor
indicated that she would be supportive of this, but she avoided
specific discussion of what Croatia might be able to do.

10. (U) Ambassador Williamson has cleared this cable.

BRADTKE

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