News 14 Jun 17

Stanisic and Simatovic ‘Controlled Ethnic Cleansing Units’

At the retrial of former Serbian security chiefs Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic in The Hague, prosecutors said they were superior officers to units that committed grave crimes in Bosnia and Croatia.

Radosa Milutinovic
BIRN
Belgrade
Stanisic and Simatovic in court. Photo: MICT.

Prosecutor Adam Weber told the retrial of Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, alias Frenki, at the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague on Wednesday, that the defendants controlled Serb fighters who carried out ethnic cleansing during wartime.

“The defendants used their control over Serb institutions and the State Security Service to perform the ethnic cleansing of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Weber said.

The prosecutor cited Simatovic’s speech at a celebration of the anniversary of the Special Operations Unit of the Serbian State Security Service at its base in Kula in 1997 as one of the key pieces of evidence.

As quoted by the prosecutor, Simatovic said that the Serbian units “successfully participated in six joint operations” in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Simatovic also specified that the Serbian Serbian State Security Service had controlled 26 camps for the training of Serb forces throughout Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The prosecutor singled out a scene from a video recording of the celebration, depicting Stanisic pointing out the locations of the camps on a map to then President Slobodan Milosevic.

“We shall prove that Serb forces committed brutal ethnic cleansing at those locations,” Weber said.

Stanisic, the former chief of the Serbian State Security Service, and his deputy, Simatovic, are accused of participating in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at permanently and forcible removing Croats and Muslims from large parts of Croatia and Bosnia, which would then be incorporated into a unified Serb state.

The indictment charges them with persecution on racial, religious and political grounds, as well as murders, deportations and the forcible resettlement 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 acquittal in their first trial.

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

In his introductory statement on Wednesday, Weber described the operations that were conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina in which various Serbian-backed units participated – ‘Frenki’s Men’ or the Red Berets, the Serbian Volunteer Guard, also known as the Tigers, commanded by Zeljko Raznatovic, alias Arkan, and the Scorpions unit.

“All those units committed crimes,” the prosecutor said.

He specifically mentioned the shooting of six young Bosniak men from Srebrenica in the Trnovo are in July 1995, which was carried out and videotaped by the Scorpions.

As an example of crimes committed by Arkan’s Tigers, Weber cited the the murders of 65 men and the rape of one woman in Sanski Most in the autumn of 1995.

Shortly afterwards, in October 1995, Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic, presented Arkan with an award, thanking him for his contribution.

The trial continues on Thursday.

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