HLC on the Acquittal of Gotovina and Markac
The ICTY’s final judgment in the trial of General Gotovina and General Markac brings no justice to the victims. According to the appellate decision for acquittal, no form of state responsibility of the Republic of Croatia has been established for the crimes committed during and after Operation Storm. Accordingly, no joint criminal enterprise has been established, nor even the generals’ individual criminal responsibility.
Since the Appeals Chamber negated the existence of a joint criminal enterprise in the Republic of Croatia, the question remains as to how one is to understand other final judgments of the ICTY in a number of trials of senior army, police and civil representatives for their participation in a joint criminal enterprise. Judge Meron’s observation is a case in point. According to him, General Gotovina did not participate in the passing of the discriminatory regulations which prevented the return of Serbs; hence, there can be no sign of his participation in a joint criminal enterprise either. The Appeals Chamber has disregarded the fact that discriminatory laws were consistently inherent to the policy of the Republic of Croatia, initially formulated and preserved in the Brioni Transcripts, and then implemented in practice. The empirical facts demonstrate that the part of Croatia where Serbs had lived remains barren even after twenty years. This judgment reduces the mass crimes committed during and after the military-police Operation Storm to isolated incidents. Thus, from now on, no one will criticize the Croatian authorities for their reluctance or failure to prosecute war crimes against Serbs.