News 12 Jun 17

Serbian Security Officials’ Hague Retrial to Begin

The retrial of former Serbian state security officials Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, who are accused of war crimes in Bosnia and Croatia, will open at the UN court on Tuesday.

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

The retrial of Jovica Stanisic, the former chief of the Serbian State Security Service, and his assistant Franko Simatovic, also known as Frenki, will begin on Tuesday at the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague.

Stanisic and Simatovic are charged with committing crimes against Croats and Bosniaks during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1991 to 1995.

They are accused of persecution on racial, religious and political grounds; murders, deportations and the forcible relocation of Croat and Bosniak civilians.

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 previous acquittal.

The tribunal ruled on December 15 that there were serious legal and factual errors when Stanisic and Simatovic were initially acquitted of war crimes in 2013.

It ordered the case be retried and all the evidence and witnesses reheard in full by new judges.

According to the charges, Simatovic and Stanisic participated in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at permanently and forcibly removing Croats and Bosniaks from large parts of territory of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which would then be incorporated into a unified Serb state.

The prosecutors allege that Stanisic and Simatovic set up, equipped, trained, financed and armed members of the Red Berets and other paramilitary groups, who then committed crimes under their control when they were sent to fight in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.

The quashed verdict ruled that the paramilitary groups that Stanisic and Simatovic deployed committed a number of crimes, but the defendants did not “control” them during those operations, although they “organised” their participation in the wars.

It said that there was “a reasonable possibility” that by deploying the Red Berets outside Serbia, Stanisic and Simatovic had “a limited intention… to establish and maintain Serbian control over large parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina” but they were not participants in a joint criminal enterprise.

The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals is taking over unfinished cases from the Hague Tribunal, which is closing down at the end of this year.

Tuesday’s hearing will open with the presentation of introductory statements by prosecutor Douglas Stringer. The trial will be chaired by judge Burton Hall from the Bahamas.

Due to Stanisic’s health condition, hearings will be held three times a week. Each of them will consist of two one-and-a-half-hour sessions with a two-hour break between them.

Doctors at The Hague and in Belgrade have determined that Stanisic suffers from a chronic digestive disease and depression.

Stanisic’s health problems had a major influence on the course of the first-instance trial; after he became ill, the trial was interrupted for more than a year.

On May 30, Stanisic and Simatovic returned from Serbia to the detention unit in The Hague, after the Tribunal released them provisionally in December 2015.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Vukovar Anniversary 17 Nov 17

Justice Hopes Fade for Victims of Devastated Vukovar

news 15 Nov 17

Serb Policeman Accused of Beating Kosovo Prisoners

News 14 Nov 17

Landmark Srebrenica Trial Starts Over in Serbia

News 08 Nov 17

Bosnia Charges Serb Ex-Soldier with Wartime Rape

News 03 Nov 17

Bosnian Croat's Sentence Extended Over Orasje Crimes