Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Savo Strbac's Misrepresentations About the MPRI Lawsuit in Chicago

In the wake of the acquittals of Generals Gotovina and Markac by the ICTY, Serbian nationalists like Savo Strbac have turned their attention to a lawsuit filed in federal district court in Chicago by a group of “Krajina” Serbs against the American company MPRI (Military Professional Resources, Inc.).  Strbac has made several false claims in the media about this lawsuit, including his claims that the court in Chicago has accepted jurisdiction in the case, and that the trial is set to start next year. [1] 

First, it must be emphasized that the MPRI case has been frozen by order of the Court since December 1, 2011.  The Court in Chicago is waiting for the United States Supreme Court to decide the case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. , where the Supreme Court is expected to decide whether United States courts have jurisdiction to hear cases like the one filed by the “Krajina” Serbs.  Therefore, nothing of any substance has happened in the Chicago case for over one year.  It is entirely possible that as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kiobel (likely to be issued in the next four to six months), the claim filed by the “Krajina” Serbs will be dismissed.

Second, MPRI has moved to dismiss the complaint filed by the “Krajina” Serbs because, amongst other things, the complaint was filed outside of the ten year Statute of Limitations.  The “Krajina” Serbs had ten years to file their lawsuit, i.e. no later than August 4, 2005 (ten years from the beginning of Operation Storm).  The “Krajina” Serbs however waited until August 17, 2010 to file their claim, which was more than five years after the Statute of Limitations expired. MPRI has asked the Court to dismiss the case, but this motion has not yet been decided because the Court froze the entire case on December 1, 2011 in order to wait for a ruling from the Supreme Court  in the Kiobel case.

Accordingly, the following points should be kept in mind:

1.     The Court in Chicago has NOT decided that it has jurisdiction to adjudicate the complaint filed by the Krajina Serbs.  The question of jurisdiction is first being addressed by the United States Supreme Court in the Kiobel case;

2.     The court in Chicago has frozen the entire case filed by the “Krajina” Serbs since December 1, 2011, and nothing of any substance has happened in the case for over one year;

3.     If the U.S. Supreme Court decides in Kiobel that these types of cases can be filed in U.S. courts, then MPRI will ask the Court to dismiss the entire case immediately because the “Krajina” Serbs filed their action five years past the Statute of Limitations.  It is at this time that the Court will decide whether it has jurisdiction;

4.     Even if the “Krajina” Serbs were able to survive the Motion to Dismiss that will be filed by MPRI, there is absolutely no chance that this case is going to trial in 2013, as claimed by Savo Strbac; and

5.     Finally, if the “Krajina” Serbs were able to survive all of these obstacles and were still able to get this case to a trial, they will have to prove that the “Krajina” Serbs were the victims of genocide in Operation Storm, despite the fact that even the Prosecution of the ICTY never charged Operation Storm as genocide, and the ICTY ultimately concluded that there was insufficient proof of the existence of a Joint Criminal Enterprise to persecute and deport the Krajina Serb population.   The ICTY acquitted all three Croatian generals, Gotovina, Cermak and Markac, making it exceptionally unlikely that the Court in Chicago will conclude that Operation Storm amounted to genocide.

It is very unlikely that the case filed against MPRI will ever go to trial.  

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