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Cablegate: Justice Minister - Property Restitution One Step

VZCZCXRO9221
PP RUEHAST
DE RUEHVB #0846 1951341
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141341Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6402
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000846

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/SCE ENGLISH, BELL, PFEUFFER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KJUS CASC CJAN HR HUMAN RIGHTS
SUBJECT: JUSTICE MINISTER - PROPERTY RESTITUTION ONE STEP
CLOSER FOR AMCITS

REF: A. ZAGREB 686
B. ZAGREB 348
C. ZAGREB 278

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a July 12 introductory call on Justice
Minister Ana Lovrin, Ambassador Bradtke stressed the
importance the USG places on Croatia's continued judicial
reforms and on creation of a fair and transparent process in
dealing with property restitution claims from the time of the
former Yugoslav government. Minister Lovrin said she has
submitted to the government a draft amendment to the 1996
property restitution law that will allow foreigners the same
access to the law as Croatian citizens without the need for
bilateral agreements (refs A and B). She expects the
government to submit the amendment to parliament after it
convenes on September 15. Lovrin also reported that
amendments to the law on criminal procedure will also go
before parliament in the fall clearly defining use of video
testimony in Croatian courts, removing any obstacles to the
use of USG-donated videoconference systems to protect
witnesses. END SUMMARY.

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USG ASSISTANCE WELL RECEIVED
----------------------------

2. (SBU) Lovrin expressed gratitude for extensive assistance
from the USG under Post's capacity building project for the
prosecution of war crimes, including not only witness
protection equipment but also training for judges,
prosecutors and police. She noted that Post's approach of
primarily using leading Croatian judges and prosecutors as
instructors rather than foreign experts was particularly
validating.

3. (SBU) Lovrin reported that she is continuing to address
the Croatian judiciary's enormous case backlog (well over one
million cases) and attributes the problem to a lack of
education among judges regarding the tools they can use to
speed up their work. She intends to introduce changes to
both civil and criminal laws to allow even faster processing
of cases.

EU SCREENING SET FOR FALL
-------------------------

4. (SBU) EU "screening" of Croatian legislation and practice
in preparation for the adoption of the Acquis chapters
dealing with human rights and the judiciary will begin in
September, after a six-month delay that Lovrin assured was
technical rather than political (ref C). She said it would
be a long, complicated process, but expressed confidence in
Croatia's negotiating team, which will include her Deputy
Minister Snjezana Bagic.
BRADTKE

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