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Cablegate: Zagreb Weekly Activity Report - October 16, 2008

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TAGS: PREL PGOV HR
SUBJECT: ZAGREB WEEKLY ACTIVITY REPORT - OCTOBER 16, 2008

REF: ZAGREB 704

1. (U) NEW MINISTERS OF INTERIOR AND JUSTICE SWORN IN:
New Minister of Interior Tomislav Karamarko, formerly head of
the Security Intelligence Agency, and Minister
of Justice, Ivan Simonovic, a law professor with a long
diplomatic career, were approved by parliament on
Friday, October 10 and sworn into office that afternoon.
Opposition SDP members abstained on the vote, but
other parliamentarians, including the second largest
opposition party, support the nominations. The new
acting Police Director, Vladimir Faber, must formally apply
for his position. A police spokesperson also
confirmed that former Director of Police, Marijan Benko,
would be a new advisor to the Minister of the
Interior. Benko and the previous Ministers of Interior and
Justice were fired by Prime Minister Sanader
after the high-profile "mafia-style" murder of a local lawyer
(REFTEL). Prime Minister Sanader said he
expects the newly appointed ministers and police chief to
engage in a determined fight against organized
crime and the mafia. (CZimmer)

2. (U) CROATIAN POLICY MAKERS VISIT US TO STUDY WITNESS
FACILITATION AND ASSET FORFEITURE MODELS:
Croatia's Attorney General, his deputy, the Director of
Police and the Ministry of the Interior's Head of
Public Relations, International Relations and Analytics,
participated in an ICITAP-funded week-long study
visit to California, October 4-11. Although the Attorney
General and Police Director returned to Croatia
near the start of the trip due to a highly-publicized
"mafia-style" murder in Zagreb which resulted in the
firing of the Police Director and two Ministers (REFTEL), the
remaining delegation met with the FBI,
U.S. Marshals, and prosecutors at the federal and local
levels to learn about U.S. models for management
of witnesses, victims, and seized assets, as well as how law
enforcement agencies at various levels
cooperate with one another for successful criminal
investigations and convictions. Post anticipates that
some of the practices observed on the visit will be
incorporated in upcoming amendments and revisions to
Croatia's Law on Police, Law on Police Authority, and the
Criminal Procedure Act. (CZimmer)

3. (SBU) SDP NO CONFIDENCE MOTION STILL BORN:
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) said last week it would
seek a no confidence motion in the government for its
inability to tackle organized crime. SDP leader Zoran
Milanovic ridiculed the Prime Minister's sacking of the
Interior and Justice Ministers in response to the murder of a
young lawyer (REFTEL), and demanded that Prime Minister
Sanader himself resign. The no confidence motion has been
added to the parliamentary agenda for October but without an
exact date for debate. Moreover, the motion was not well
coordinated among other opposition parties. Vesna Pusic, a
senior member of the second largest pposition party (Croatian
Peoples' Party) said that this was not the time for
partisanship because the situation was too serious. The
leader of the SDP's main opposition partner in Istria also
indicated that it would be a poor time to bring down the
government. President Stjepan Mesic, at many times critical
of the Premier, also has been lukewarm to the idea of
bringing down the government at this time.
COMMENT: The SDP gambit comes on the heels of several weeks
of criticism in the media for its lackluster
return from summer vacation and the missed opportunities to
criticize the government in September. Its
actions to bring down the government seem out of step with
general public reaction to what is generally
perceived as mob-linked killing. Sanader's quick actions
have largely played well in the press despite
strong public sentiment that the government could have down
more over the years to combat organized
crime. (DMeges)

4. (U) CROATIAN JUDICIARY DROPS CHARGES AGAINST ETHNIC SERB:
Croatian authorities dropped war crimes charges against an
ethnic Serb, Ernest Radjen, due to lack of
evidence and released him from detention. Radjen was
arrested in Greece last year and extradited based on
a Croatian arrest warrant based on allegations that he failed
to prevent a 1991 massacre of some 50
civilians, mostly women and older men, in two villages near
the central coastal town of Zadar while
he served as commander of military police of the former

ZAGREB 00000726 002 OF 002


Yugoslav Peoples' Army (JNA). After a
preliminary investigation that included interviews with
witnesses, the Zadar County attorney's office
lowered the charges against Radjen from war crimes to
threatening the security of Croatia, an offense that
was covered by an amensty law several years ago. Radjen told
press that since the very beginning he was
surprised with his arrest, since he was with the JNA and not
the local Serb rebels at the time of the
atrocities. Radjen thanked those Croatian civilians who
testified on his behalf. He spent 550 days in
detention and his defense attorneys told the press that they
are planning to sue the Croatian state over
this matter. The case is likely to strengthen calls for
Croatia to proactively review several hundred
cases with INTERPOL arrest warrants where the indictments or
convictions in absentia are based on
questionable grounds. (CZimmer)

5. (U) CROATIA-SLOVENIA BORDER DISPUTE UNLIKELY TO SLOW EU
NEGOTIATIONS:
Outgoing Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel indicated
on Monday October 3 that Slovenia may block
Croatia's EU negotiations in up to five chapters because
Croatia's negotiating positions contained
documentation and maps that are viewed by Rupel as
pre-judging ongoing bilateral border disputes. The
Croatian Foreign Ministry responded that no documentation
submitted to the EU pre-judged the outcome of
the border disputes and emphasized that Croatia would like to
resolve the border issue via international
arbitration. A spokesman for the EU Commission emphasized
the bilateral border dispute is unrelated to
Croatia's EU negotiations and noted the French EU Presidency
is working hard to forge agreement among all
EU member states to move Croatia's EU bid along. Croatia
hopes the next intergovernmental conference
with the EU, which is set for October 30, will allow for the
opening of five additional chapters --
"Free Movement of Capital", "Regional Policy and the
Coordination of Structural Instruments", "Taxation",
"Justice, Freedom and Security", and "Environment". (DMeges)

6. (U) USG PARTNERS WITH CROATIANS TO FUND THREE NEW
DEMINING PROJECTS:
Working with the Croatian Mine Action Center (CROMAC) and the
International Trust Fund of Slovenia (ITF),
the Embassy approved on October 10 three new demining
projects in Karlovac and Sibenik counties at a
total cost of 350,000 USD. The projects, which should be
completed in the next two months, will clear
mines from agricultural lands and natural springs in Karlovac
County, while in Sibenik County the project
will restore access to the sole water supply for two
villages. Although ITF-Slovenia administers the
USG funds in order to generate matching fund donations, these
three projects had a decidedly local
flavor: the matching partners are almost exclusively Croatian
and include a Sibenik Lions Club and
Karlovac County's demining fund. (CZimmer)

7. (U) SACEUR CRADDOCK VISITS ZAGREB:
General Bantz J. Craddock, the Supreme Allied Commander in
Europe, visited Zagreb on October 14. General
Craddock met with President Stjepan Mesic, Prime Minister Ivo
Sanader, Defense Minister Branko Vukelic and
Chief of General Staff Josip Lucic. Media covering the visit
reported that Craddock hoped to see Croatia
at the next NATO summit as a full member. Sanader said
Croatia would be a credible ally that would continue
to contribute to international peace and security. Minister
Vukelic noted that membership in NATO did
not mean that Croatia would stop cooperating with the other
countries in the region. Croatia's defense
reforms and its participation in international peace
missions, including ISAF, were also acknowledged.
(ZTomic)
Bradtke

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