Cablegate: Zagreb Daily Report - January 28, 2010

DE RUEHVB #0061 0281129
P 281129Z JAN 10 ZDK



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Zagreb Daily Report - January 28, 2010

1. (U) President Mesic Welcomes Reported UK, Belgian and Finnish
Decision to Lift Blockade on Judiciary Chapter in EU Negotiations:
Responding to reports that at an EU enlargement working group in
Brussels earlier this week, the UK, Belgian and Finnish (although
not the Dutch) representatives had agreed to remove their reserves
on opening of Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights),
President Mesic issued a press release on January 27 saying he
welcomed the three governments' decision. Mesic said he was pleased
that Croatia's efforts to achieve full cooperation with the ICTY
were being acknowledged and "properly evaluated." Mesic's
statements noted his long-standing support for cooperation with the
ICTY, "not only as an unavoidable requirement in the EU accession
talks, but as a necessary factor in dealing with the past and
creating conditions for strengthening regional stability."

2. (U) Officials Confirm Attendance of Josipovic's Inauguration: The
Office of President-Elect Ivo Josipovic on January 28 advised the
Embassy that key officials who have so far confirmed their
attendance at the February 18 Inauguration include President Turk of
Slovenia, President Topi of Albania, President Ivanov of Macedonia
and President Sejdiu of Kosovo. Sweden will be represented by its
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, and Canada by its Minister
of State for Western Economic Diversification, Lynne Yelich.
Denmark, Norway and Ireland have said they will be represented by
their ambassadors to Croatia. Many invitations are still pending.
3. (U) Supreme Court Confirms War Crimes Sentence for Mihajlo
Hrastov, but Reduces it from Eight to Seven Years: On January 27,
the Supreme Court confirmed its guilty verdict for Mihajlo Hrastov,
a former member of Croatian special forces convicted of killing 13
Serb POWs in 1991 by firing bursts of automatic fire at them, but
reduced his sentence from eight to seven years. Over several years,
the Karlovac County Court had acquitted Hrastov three times, saying
that he acted in self-defense. After ordering two previous
retrials, in May 2009, the Supreme Court reversed the County Court's
acquittal to a conviction and sentenced him to an eight year prison
term. In yesterday's decision, the Supreme Court accepted only a
small part of Hrastov's appeal and reduced his sentence by one year,
saying it recognized that the 47-year-old Hrastov was the father of
an underage child and a disabled war veteran decorated several times
for his contribution to the war effort with no previous convictions.
Hrastov has been in custody since May 2009. This is the final
verdict, although Hrastov could still file a constitutional claim or
try to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
4. (U) Embassy Hosts Regional Trade Control Best Practices Workshop:
On January 29-29, Croatian experts from the ministries of defense
and economy will meet with Kosovar officials and EXBS
representatives to help share best practices and assist Kosovars in
writing a final draft to Kosovo's strategic trade control laws. The
workshop is a follow up to the EXBS sponsored export control best
practices visit to Kosovo between the GoC and the GoK in November,
2009. Details on the workshop in Zagreb to follow by septel.


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