Prosecutors at the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) have requested life in prison for former top officials of Serbia's State Security Service (SDB), Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic 'Frenki', arguing that they have proven the two were part of a joint criminal enterprise that involved war crimes committed in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1991-1995 war in former Yugoslavia.
The former head of the SDB, Stanisic, 70, as well as his former deputy, Simatovic, 71, are being retried for allegedly participating in a joint criminal enterprise that entailed the persecution, murder and forcible transfer and deportation of non-Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia during the war.
According to BIRN, Prosecutor Douglas Stringer argued that the crimes committed in Skabrnja and Vukovar in Croatia in the autumn of 1991 and in Bijeljina in Bosnia in the spring of 1992 “shared common perpetrators and had the same outcome – the forcible removal of the non-Serb population.”
The purpose of this “campaign of violence” was to create ethnic Serb-controlled territory in Bosnia and Croatia, he said.
“The accused in this case, Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, were without question members of that enterprise who made an important contribution to its goal,” BIRN quoted Stringer.
At least 340,000 non-Serbs were removed from the area as part of the criminal enterprise and Stringer said that the then president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, was at the helm of it.
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 the two 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.