Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Stanisic and Simatovic Trial Date Set

Hague proceedings against two former high-ranking Serbian officials will begin in just over a week.
The trial of former close aide to President Slobodan Milosevic Jovica Stanisic and elite Serb forces commander Franko Simatovic is scheduled to start on March 17.

Although the pre-trial conference and prosecution’s opening statements were scheduled to begin on March 10, they were postponed at the prosecutors’ request.

Stanisic and Simatovic are accused of having “directed, organised, equipped, trained, armed and financed secret units of the Serbian State Security, DB, which murdered, persecuted and deported Croats, Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serb civilians from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia between 1991 and 1995”.

It is alleged in the indictment that from May 1991, secret units were established by or with the assistance of the DB for the purpose of undertaking special military operations in Croatia and Bosnia.

Stanisic was head of DB between December 1991 and October 1998. Simatovic, also known as “Frenki”, was the commander of DB’s Special Operations Unit during the period relevant to the indictment.

The prosecution alleges that the two participated in a Joint Criminal Enterprise - the objective of which was “the forcible and permanent removal of the majority of Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from large areas in the two countries”.

According to the indictment, the accused helped set up centres where armed units were trained and later deployed to the special units, which included the Red Berets, the Scorpions, and Arkan’s Tigers, among others.

Charges contained in the indictment consist of murders committed in various towns and villages in Bosnia and Croatia, including the murder of six prisoners captured after the fall of Srebrenica, captured on videotape by members of the Scorpions special unit.

Stanisic was arrested in March 2003, and Simatovic was apprehended two months later.

They both pleaded not guilty to all charges in the indictment.

Merdijana Sadovic is IWPR Hague programme manager.

As coronavirus sweeps the globe, IWPR’s network of local reporters, activists and analysts are examining the economic, social and political impact of this era-defining pandemic.


More IWPR's Global Voices