The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has denied Croatia's application for leave to appear as amicus curiae in the appeal proceedings against six former senior officials in the 'Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna', the ICTY reported on Tuesday.

Presiding Judge Carmel Agius signed the decision denying Croatia's request to appear as amicus curiae in the case against Jadranko Prilic, Bruno Stojic, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petkovic, Valentin Coric and Berislav Pusic.

In the first instance the trial chamber convicted and sentenced them to a total of 111 years imprisonment for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period from 1992 to 1994.

Croatia requested leave to file an amicus curiae brief and to appear as amicus curiae in the appeal proceedings to dispute the trial chamber's conviction that the six accused participated in a Joint Criminal Enterprise (JCE) and that three Croatia's officials - first Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, former foreign minister Gojko Susak and Croatian army general Janko Bobetko - were members of that JCE.

According to Croatia's submission the trial chamber's ruling of May 2013 contradicted the presumption of innocence of the three Croatian officials, who have passed away in the meantime, and erred in concluding that the said officials of Croatia were members of the JCE and that Croatia was involved in the crimes against Bosnian Muslims.

The ICTY prosecution has suggested that the appeals chamber denies Croatia's application on the grounds that Croatia does not meet the standard for standing as amicus curiae.

"The Appeals Chamber emphasises that findings of criminal responsibility made in a case before the Tribunal are binding only on the accused in a specific case. In this regard, the Appeals Chamber observes that the Three Croatian Officials were not indicted or charged in the present case. Furthermore the Trial Chamber made no explicit findings concerning their participation in the JCE and did not find them guilty of any crimes (...)the Trial Judgement is binding only on the Six Accused, and the presumption of innocence of the Three Croatian Officials is not impacted," the decision says.

Judge Agius also notes that the mention of the three officials "in no way constitute findings of responsibility on the part of the state of Croatia."

"The Appeals Chamber further observes that the Tribunal's jurisdiction is restricted to 'natural persons' and the Tribunal does not have the competency to make findings on state responsibility," the decision says further.

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