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Cablegate: War Crimes Indictee Re-Elected, but Unlikely to Regain

VZCZCXRO5864
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #1052 3341445
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301445Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8389
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS ZAGREB 001052

SIPDIS

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: War Crimes Indictee Re-Elected, But Unlikely to Regain
Immunity From Prosecution

Ref: (A) Zagreb Activity Report 23 OCT; (B) ZAGREB 372 and

previous; (C) ZAGREB 1036

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Right-wing parties suffered defeat at the polls
last weekend with the loss of almost two-thirds of their seats in
Parliament; however a side issue remains following the re-election
of war crimes indictee and regional party leader Branimir Glavas to
Parliament. The strong-man of Osijek is claiming that his
parliamentary immunity should be automatically restored and the
criminal procedure against him for war crimes should be suspended.
Glavas was indicted twice in 2007 by Croatian courts for two
separate incidents of torture and murder of Serb civilians in Osijek
during the war. He is currently in prison while the trial proceeds
(REFS A and B). Legal scholars note, however, that there are no
legal grounds to cancel Parliament's decision earlier this year
stripping Glavas of his parliamentary immunity. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Glavas' re-election to the Sabor is the first time in Croatia
that someone has been voted into Parliament while sitting in prison
facing war crimes charges. His trial, which combines two separate
cases of civilian murders, is ongoing in the Zagreb County Court.
Glavas and his attorney are claiming that since he was elected to a
new mandate, the legal foundation for the stripping of his immunity
has expired. Local press, fueled by this assertion, has speculated
whether his immunity would indeed remain valid. While the situation
is clearly not foreseen by the Constitution or Croatian laws,
experts seem to be in agreement that Glavas will remain in detention
and without parliamentary immunity.

3. (SBU) Deputy State Prosecutor for War Crimes Antun Kvakan, who
made the initial request of Parliament to remove Glavas' immunity,
estimated that even with a new electoral mandate Glavas' eligibility
for prosecution would remain the same. Glavas still has two valid,
final indictments against him, so the facts remain unchanged, he
said. Deputy Osijek County Court President Miroslav Rozac agreed
that Glavas should remain without immunity, as the reasons behind
the decision removing his immunity remain valid. Only in the case
of a new indictment, Rozac added, would a new procedure be needed.
In that case, Parliament's Immunities Committee would have to
reconvene and assess the charges. Rozac called Glavas' assertions
"political."

4. (SBU) According to Ivo Josipovic, legal expert and professor at
Zagreb's Law Faculty, the speculation of new immunity is nonsense
and holds no legal ground. A new Parliament is bound to respect
decisions made by the previous one, he noted. He did raise a
logistical problem facing Glavas: as he is detained in prison, he
may be unable to be present to take the oath of office (administered
on the floor of Parliament) and to establish his new mandate.
Josipovic didn't address whether Glavas could be granted temporary
release to take the oath. In the event that Glavas is unable to
take his seat, the second individual on the party list would take
his position.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Whatever Glavas may claim, it is unlikely he will
be able to use his electoral success to avoid trial. Nevertheless,
with his Eastern Slavonia regional party (the HDSSB) having won
three seats in the tightly contested Parliament (REF C), he may well
try to leverage the situation to at least get himself out on bail
and, as his party likes to describe it, "defend himself from
freedom." Despite the on-going scramble to form a coalition,
neither of the two large parties, the SDP or the HDZ, wants to
include the HDSSB in government. It is the Zagreb County Court that
determines whether Glavas remains in custody and, given past
troubles with witness intimidation in this case, it is our
expectation that it will ensure he remains in custody as the trial
continues. END COMMENT.
BRADTKE

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