Senior Serb intelligence officials given prison sentences for war crimes

Jovica Stanisic Franko Simatovic

TWO SENIOR FORMER OFFICIALS in the now defunct domestic security apparatus of Serbia have been given prison sentences totaling 24 years, after being found guilty of war crimes by a United Nations court. The crimes of the two officials stem from the Yugoslav Wars, a series of bloody ethnic conflicts that followed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

The two former officials, Jovica Stanišić, 70, and Franko “Frenki” Simatović, 71, deny that they trained Serbian elite police units in methods of exterminating non-Serb populations in various regions of the former Yugoslavia. The two men were initially acquitted of all charges against them by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). But the initial ruling was quashed, and the two men were tried again, this time by United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, which took over ICTY’s operations after its mandate ended.

Stanišić directed the State Security Service (SDB), which operated under the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia as the country’s primary domestic security agency. Simatović was an intelligence officer who, from 1991 until 1998, commanded the feared Special Operations Unit, known as JSO. The JSO was an elite police force that operated under Stanišić’s SDB. Prosecutors accused the two men of working under direct orders by Serb President Slobodan Milošević, with the aim of ethnically cleansing non-Serbian populations. Milošević died in 2006 in prison at The Hague, Netherlands, where he was held facing charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

On Wednesday, each of the two men were given 12 years in prison. Simatović has already served eight years in prison, and Stanišić close to five. Both continue to deny the charges against them, and their lawyers said they would appeal the convictions.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 01 July 2021 | Permalink