Interior, to eighteen years incarceration. Ivan Cermak, the
Assistant Minister of Defence in the Croatian Government
(1991-1993), was acquitted. The judgement finds, inter alia,
that Gotovina and Markac “participated in a joint criminal
enterprise, the common purpose of which was the permanent
removal of the Serb population from the Krajina region of
Croatia by force, fear or threat of force”.
The judgement also found that Franjo Tudjman, then
president of Croatia, was “a key member of the joint criminal
enterprise” who intended to “repopulate the Krajina with Croats,
and ensured that his ideas in this respect were transformed into
policy”. Beyond Tudjman, the judgement also reached the very
top of the Croatian ruling elite at the time – it also found that
then-Minister of Defence Gojko Susak, Chief of Staff Zvonimir
Cervenko and “others in the political and military leadership”
were also a part of this “joint criminal enterprise”.
This judgement was significant for transitional justice in
the Balkans in several ways. First of all, it implicated the
Croatian ruling elite, naming specifically its role in expulsions
and other crimes committed. The ICTY has had some success
in rounding up high ranking politicians and leaders such as
former leader of Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzic and
Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, but for the most part,
it tends to prosecute the intermediaries who carried out
orders, rather than order givers.
Significant also were the reactions of key regional leaders.
The official Croatian response, expressed by Croatian Prime
Minister Jadranka Kosor and President Ivo Josipovic, was of
shock, but remained calm and diplomatic. Kosor found the
“joint criminal enterprise” label “unacceptable” whilst
Josipovic added that this judgement does not question the
legitimacy of the war. The Serbian response – both official and
unofficial – was surprisingly muted, with President Boris
Tadic warning Serbian citizens not to celebrate this
sentencing. Speaking on the Radio Television Serbia (RTS),
Bruno Vekaric, the Deputy Prosecutor for War Crimes in
Serbia, added that this sentencing might start a confrontation
with the past in Croatia.
Finally, and perhaps most significantly for Serbia, the