On 11 March 2004, Mladen Markac voluntarily surrendered and was transferred to the ICTY. The following day, during his initial appearance before the ICTY, Markac pleaded “not guilty” to all counts of the indictment.
The initial indictment had been issued on 24 February 2004 and was kept secret until 8 March 2004. On December 2005, an amended indictment was filed.
According to the indictment, Mladen Markac acting individually and/or in concert with other members of the joint criminal enterprise, and/or various subordinates over whom the accused possessed effective control, planned, instigated, ordered, committed, and/or aided and abetted the planning, preparation and/or execution of various crimes against the Serb population in the southern portion of the Krajina region of Croatia.
Mladen Markac is charged, on the basis of both his individual criminal responsibility (Art. 7 § 1 ICTY Statute) and as hierarchical superior (Art. 7 § 3 ICTY Statute), with:
- five counts of crimes against humanity (persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds; deportation; inhumane acts (forcible transfer); murder; and other inhumane acts – Art. 5 ICTY Statute);
- four count of violations of the laws or customs of war (plunder of public or private property; wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity; murder; and cruel treatment – Art. 3 ICTY Statute).
On 29 April 2004, the ICTY Trial Chamber rejected his motion for provisional release. An appeal was filed against this decision and on 2 December 2004, the ICTY Appeals Chamber reversed the decision and ordered that Mladen Markac be provisionally released pending the start of his trial.
The office of the Prosecutor later proposed that Mladen Markac be judged together with Ante Gotovina and Ivan Cermak, two other Croatian generals involved in the re-taking of the Krajina in 1995.
On 14 July 2006, the Trial Chamber accepted the motion and ordered that the cases be joined for a common trial. The joinder indictment was filed on 21 July 2006.
On 13 December 2006, judges in the trial of Ante Gotovina, Mladen Markac and Ivan Cermak requested that prosecutors “propose means of reducing the scope of the indictment by at least one third” by reducing the number of scenes of crime and/or reducing the counts, in order to "ensure a fair and expeditious trial".
The prosecutors turned down the request, but stated that, if ordered by the judges, they would reduce the number of municipalities covered in the indictment from 20 to 14, removing Kijevo, Lovinac, Polaca, Smilcic, Titevo Korenica, and Ubdina. They also proposed reducing the period covered by removing allegations relating to October and November 1995. A first modified version of the joinder indictment was filed 6 March 2007.
The commencement of the trial was postponed indefinitely by the Trial Chamber on 19 April 2007 after judges ruled that both Cermak and Markac needed new defence lawyers due to conflicts of interest. They were replaced at the end of 2007.
Markac's provisional release was terminated in December 2007 due to his violation of the conditions.
The Trial Chamber currently has before it a proposed amended joinder indictment filed 22 February 2008 by the Prosecution.
The trial of Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac opened on 11 March 2008.
The Prosecution case closed on 5 March 2009 after calling almost 80 witnesses. The Defence subsequently applied for acquittal of all three defendants pursuant to Rule 98bis of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Tribunal. This request was denied by the Chamber on 3 April 2009. The Defence case began on 28 May 2009.
On 15 April 2011 Trial Chamber I of the ICTY convicted Mladen Markač and Ante Gotovina of persecution, deportation, plunder, wanton destruction, two counts of murder, inhumane acts and cruel treatment.
Markač and Gotovina were sentenced to 24 and 18 years of imprisonment respectively.
In May 2011 the defense of the Croatian generals filed their notices of appeal against the Trial Chamber's judgment.
On 16 November 2012, the Appeals Chamber unanimously reversed the First Instance Verdict and acquitted Gotovina and Markac of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war. The Chamber ordered their immediate release.
The Appeals Chamber 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 » and that the existence of a joint criminal enterprise whose purpose was the permanent and forcible removal of Serb civilians from the Krajina region was not proved.
Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.