Milosevic aides face Balkans war trial verdict end-June
A UN court will give its verdict on June 30 on two former Serbian spy chiefs accused of playing a major role in running death squads during the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia.
Jovica Stanisic, 70, and Franko Simatovic, 71, have been retried on four charges of crimes against humanity and one charge of war crimes by the tribunal in The Hague after they were both acquitted in 2013.
The court announced the date of the verdict in a statement and ordered both men, who are on provisional release, “to return to the UN detention unit in The Hague” pending the ruling.
Stanisic, the former head of Serbia’s old state security service and a key figure in the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, and his deputy Simatovic are accused of backing paramilitary groups that terrorised Bosnia and Croatia.
These groups cut a swathe of terror and destruction across Croatia and Bosnia during the conflicts that erupted amid the collapse of Yugoslavia after the fall of communism.
They included an elite unit dubbed the “Red Berets” and the feared paramilitary outfit run by Zeljko “Arkan” Raznatovic, called “Arkan’s Tigers”.
The death squads attacked towns and murdered Croats, Muslims and other non-Serbs to force them out of large areas, seeking to establish a Serb-run state, prosecutors alleged, seeking life sentences for both men in the original trial which opened in 2008.
UN prosecutors maintain that Stanisic and Simatovic were part of a joint criminal enterprise that included the late Serbian president Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.
Stanisic and Simatovic’s acquittal before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) unleashed a storm of protest and was overturned in 2015 after prosecutors appealed.
Milosevic died in custody in The Hague before he could go on trial while Karadzic is serving a life sentence for genocide.
The case of Stanisic and Simatovic is one of the last dealt with by the ICTY, after former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic had his life sentence for genocide upheld last week.