News 30 Jan 13

Serbian State Security 'Controlled Arkan’s Fighters'

Serbian security officials Franko Simatovic and Jovica Stanisic had full command over notorious paramilitary leader Arkan’s units, the Hague Tribunal’s prosecution said.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

“Without any reasonable doubt, the prosecution proved that the indictees were responsible for the actions taken by Arkan [Zeljko Raznatovic] and his units,” the prosecution said in its closing arguments in the war crimes trial of Simatovic and Stanisic.

“It is clear that Simatovic sent Arkan to eastern Slavonia [in Croatia], where his units committed the most horrifying war crimes,” the prosecution added.

The prosecutors asked for life sentence for both defendants, saying that it was hard to imagine graver crimes than those committed under their command.

According to the indictment, Simatovic and Stanisic were members of a joint criminal enterprise that planned and ordered the execution and persecution of non-Serbs in Serb-controlled regions of Croatia and Bosnia from April 1991 until December 1995.

Croats, Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serb civilians were murdered, deported and persecuted for their political affiliations, race or religion, the indictment alleged.

The prosecution said that the two former high-ranking officials from Serbian state security, DB, established training centres with army volunteers and conscripts, and that some of those who were trained were subsequently deployed to the DB’s special units or became instructors in other units affiliated with the DB.

It said that these special units were secretly established by or with the assistance of the DB from April 1991 onwards and undertook military operations in Bosnia and Croatia until December 1995.

The units attacked and took control of towns and villages in Bosnia and Croatia from 1991 until 1995, the prosecution said.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, indicted Arkan in 1999, but only for crimes committed in 1995 in the Sanski Most area of north-west Bosnia. 

The paramilitary boss did not stand trial however because he was killed in a mafia shootout in Belgrade in 2000. 

Both Simatovic and Stanisic were arrested in 2003 in Serbia and transferred to the Hague Tribunal shortly afterwards. Their trial began in 2008.

Closing arguments are continuing on Wednesday.

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Background

Timeline: Cases for War Crimes in Pec Villages

Timeline of events in the case against 13 former Serb fighters charged with committing war crimes in the villages of Cuska, Zahac, Ljubenic and Pavlan in Kosovo in 1999.

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