News 13 Sep 17

Serbian Security Chief Stanisic ‘Was Arkan’s Boss’

A prosecution witness told the retrial of former Serbian security service chief Jovica Stanisic and his deputy in The Hague that notorious paramilitary leader Zeljko Raznatovic, alias Arkan, said Stanisic was his boss.

Radosa Milutinovic
BIRN
Belgrade
Former Serbian state security officials Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic. Photo: MICT.

Prosecution witness Borivoje Savic told the Mechanism for International Tribunals in The Hague on Wednesday that Zeljko Raznatovic said to him in May 1991 that Serbian State Security Service chief Jovica Stanisic was his boss.

Savic, one of the founders of the Serb Democratic Party, SDS in the Croatian town of Vukovar, said that Raznatovic, the now-deceased paramilitary leader and criminal, told him who gave him orders when they met at a café in Belgrade.

Savic told the trial on Tuesday that the Serbian State Security Service, SDB deployed Raznatovic’s paramilitary forces to the Eastern Slavonia area of Croatia in the spring of 1991, when his units committed serious crimes against non-Serb civilians.

During his testimony on Wednesday, Savic said Raznatovic’s men and other Serb paramilitary forces followed the Yugoslav National Army, JNA in its campaugn in Croatia and “cleaned up” villages after it.

“The JNA gave an order to its soldiers not to harm civilians, but they were followed by a crew that carried out the clean-up. Those were the heroes who killed old men, burned and pillaged houses,” the witness said.

Savic was testifying at the trial of Stanisic and his former deputy, Franko Simatovic, alias Frenki.

Stanisic and Simatovic are being retried for 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.

During cross-examination, Stanisic’s defence lawyer Wayne Jordash asked the witness which position Stanisic officially held in May 1991.

“I do not know,” Savic responded.

Commenting on the witness’s allegation that the Serbian security service controlled Raznatovic, Stanisic’s lawyer suggested that Savic had not differentiated between the service and the Serbian Interior Ministry’s Public Security Department, whose chief, Radovan Stojcic, alias Badza, was active in Eastern Slavonia and closely cooperated with Raznatovic.

“Stojicic was known as Milosevic’s policeman. He was the assistant minister of the Serbian Interior Ministry, who was appointed the commander of the Territorial Defence of Borovo Selo [in Croatia]… He was appointed by the [state security] service,” Savic responded.

When asked how he knew that weapons were sent to Slavonia by the Serbian SDB and not, for instance, smuggled, the witness answered: “Who could secure the delivery of weapons across borders without police or any other controls? The SDB, who else?”

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 cross-examination of Savic continues on Thursday.

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