The ICTY Appeals Chamber issued yesterday what may turn out to be one of its most important decisions ever. The Chamber overturned the conviction of Gen. Gotovina of Croatia, prompting joy in Croatia but anger and consternation in Serbia.
The prosecution of Gotovina was one of few against higher Croatian military officials. For the Office of the Prosecutor, if represented an important effort in showing that all sides of the conflict would be subject to judicial scrutiny for their conduct.
The decision hinged on Gotovina's mental state, and the Appeals Chamber's decision that there was insufficient evidence that Gen. Gotovina had purposefully targeted civilians while ordering his troops to shell particular locations. I should add that the Trial Chamber's analysis of Gotovina's mental state waas strangely absent from the Trial Chamber Judgement, which was 1000+ pages but failed to adequately discuss the issue. The Trial Chamber Judgement discussed his mental state relative to the mode of liability (joint criminal enterprise), but said little about his mental state for the underlying crime of targeting civilians.
There were vigorous dissents from the Appeals Chamber decision, which was obviously not unanimous. The Appeals Chamber issued a mere oral summary during yesterday's hearing. A written summary is available here.
The full written opinion of the Appeals Chamber decision can be found here.