This post is based on a press release of the Tribunal, issued on 16 November 2012, VE/CS/PR1532e.
The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, composed of Judges Theodor Meron, presiding, Carmel Agius, Patrick Robinson, Mehmet Güney, and Fausto Pocar, has reversed by majority, Judges Agius and Pocar dissenting, Ante Gotovina’s and Mladen Markač’s convictions for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war and entered verdicts of acquittal. The case information page is available here, a summary of the judgment here, and the full judgment is available here.
On 15 April 2011, Trial Chamber I found Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markač guilty of committing crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war from July to September 1995 by participating in a joint criminal enterprise to permanently and forcibly remove the Serb civilian population from the Krajina region of Croatia. Mr. Gotovina was sentenced to 24 years of imprisonment, and Mr. Markač was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment.
The Appeals Chamber unanimously found that the Trial Chamber erred in concluding that all artillery impact sites located more than 200 metres from a target deemed legitimate served as evidence of unlawful attacks against towns in the Krajina region of Croatia. A majority of the Appeals Chamber further concluded that the Trial Chamber erred in finding that artillery attacks ordered by Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markač were unlawful. The majority also held that the Trial Chamber erred in finding the existence of a joint criminal enterprise whose purpose was the permanent and forcible removal of Serb civilians from the Krajina region. Accordingly, the majority reversed all of Mr. Gotovina’s and Mr. Markač’s convictions. The majority also declined to enter convictions against Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markač on the basis of alternate modes of liability. The Appeals Chamber ordered the immediate release of Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markač.
Mr. Gotovina was a Colonel General of the Croatian Army (HV). In 1995, he served as the commander of the HV’s Split Military District and as the overall operational commander of a military offensive known as “Operation Storm” in the southern portion of the Krajina region. Mr. Gotovina was arrested in Spain on 7 December 2005 and transferred to the Tribunal on 10 December 2005. Mr. Gotovina was represented on appeal by Mr. Gregory Kehoe, Mr. Luka Mišetić, Mr. Payam Akhavan, and Mr. Guénaël Mettraux.
Mr. Markač was the Assistant Minister of the Interior and Operation Commander of the Special Police in Croatia in 1995. Mr. Markač surrendered to the Tribunal on 11 March 2004. He was represented on appeal by Mr. Goran Mikuličić, Mr. Tomislav Kuzmanović, Mr. John Jones, and Mr. Kai Ambos.
The Office of the Prosecutor was represented on appeal by Ms. Helen Brady, Mr. Douglas Stringer, Ms. Laurel Baig, Mr. Francois Boudreault, Ms. Ingrid Elliott, Mr. Todd Schneider, Ms. Saeeda Verrall, and Mr. Matthew Cross.