International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Hague prosecutors: Serbia’s wartime DB chiefs indictments proved

April 12, 2021

Prosecutors at the retrial of former leaders of Serbia's State Security Service (SDB) of Serbia, Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic-Frenki, before The Hague Tribunal, said at the beginning of closing arguments on Monday that they had proved the two were guilty of crimes in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1991-1995 war in former Yugoslavia.

Stanisic, 70, a former head of the Serbian SDB, and Simatovic, 71, chief of its operative, are charged with persecution, murder, forcible transfer, and deportation of Croats and Muslims in Croatia.

Four counts of the indictment charged them with crimes against humanity and one with violations of war laws and customs.

„The prosecution’s evidence has, without any doubt, established the responsibility of Stanisic and Simatovic. The inevitable conclusion is that they are guilty of the crimes they are accused of,“ Douglas Stringer, a prosecutor, said.

According to Stringer, these crimes against „thousands of victims in two countries“ were committed as part of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at „establishing a territory with Serbian domination“, forcibly and permanently removing non-Serbs from large areas in Croatia and BiH.

At least „340,000 non-Serbs“ were removed from the area during the violent ethnic secession, the prosecution said.

According to Stringer, the then president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, was at the head of that joint criminal enterprise.

In addition to Milosevic, Stanisic and Simatovic, those criminally associated were Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, Momcilo Krajisnik, Biljana Plavsic, Milan Martic, Goran Hadzic, Milan Babic, Zeljko Raznatovic, Vojislav Seselj, officials and military commander in Serbia, Republika Srpska and former Republic of Serbian Krajina, which existed on some 25 percent of Croatia’s territory before 1995, were said to be members of the criminal enterprise.

Stanisic and Simatovic did not attend the hearing because they are temporarily in Serbia.

The retrial of Stanisic and Simatovic is the latest trial before The Hague tribunal to determine whether Serbia’s officials were responsible for war crimes in Croatia and BiH.

After the first trial, the Hague Tribunal acquitted Stanisic and Simatovic in May 2013.

Both pleaded not guilty in their first court appearance. In the following years, during the first and repeated trial, Stanisic and Simatovic spent long periods of temporary freedom in Serbia.

Prosecutors filed an appeal, and in December 2015, the Appellate Chamber of the Tribunal annulled the first instance verdict and ordered a new trial.
The retrial began on June 13, 2017.

The prosecution continues closing arguments on Tuesday.

Stanisic and Simatovic were arrested by Serbian authorities after the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in March 2003 and were transferred to The Hague in May that year.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/hague-prosecutors-serbias-wartime-db-chiefs-indictments-proved/

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