News 14 Sep 17

Serbian State Security Chief Denies Controlling Arkan

The lawyer for the former head of the Serbian State Security Service, Jovica Stanisic, told the UN court that a witness’s claim that the security chief was paramilitary leader Arkan’s boss was untrue.

Radosa Milutinovic
BIRN
Belgrade
Former Serbian State Security Service chief Jovica Stanisic in court. Photo: MICT.

Jovica Stanisic’s defence lawyer told the Mechanism for International Tribunals in The Hague on Thursday that prosecution witness Borivoje Savic’s allegation that Zeljko Raznatovic, alias Arkan, told him in May 1991 that Stanisic was his boss was untrue.

During his cross-examination of the witness, Stanisic’s lawyer Wayne Jordash said that Savic could not have spoken to Raznatovic in Belgrade in mid-May 1991 because the paramilitary leader was in prison in Zagreb at that time.

Jordash presented the witness with a document issued by the Zagreb court indicating that Raznatovic was held in prison until June 14, 1991.

Savic responded by saying it was possible that their conversation took place a month later.

“I allow the possibility that it took place at a different time, but my statement is true,” the witness said.

Savic was testifying at the retrial of Stanisic, who was the chief of the Serbian State Security Service from 1992, and his former assistant Franko Simatovic, alias Frenki,

They are charged with the persecution, murders, deportations and forcible resettlement of Croat and Bosniak civilians during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1991 to 1995.

According to the charges, they were part of a joint criminal enterprise led by former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, aimed at forcibly and permanently removing Croats and Bosniaks from large parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to achieve Serb domination.

Defence lawyer Jordash also tried to prove that Stanisic did not control Raznatovic by presenting a statement given by former Serbian Defence Minister Tomislav Simovic, who said that Raznatovic’s unit was “a part of the Territorial Defence” and that “it coordinated its activities with the Yugoslav National Army”.

Witness Savic maintained this was incorrect.

“He was washing his hands of the responsibility, this was a staged interview,” Savic said.

Stanisic and Simatovic both pleaded not guilty in December last year after the appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia overturned their acquittal in their first trial.

The appeals chamber ruled that there were serious legal and factual errors when Stanisic and Simatovic were initially acquitted of war crimes in 2013, and ordered the case to be retried and all the evidence and witnesses reheard in full by new judges.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

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