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Balkan war: verdict awaited in The Hague for two Serbian spy chiefs

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The verdict is expected on Wednesday for two key figures in the nationalist regime of Slobodan Milosevic, again on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity in The Hague in the Netherlands. They are blamed for their role in organizing and funding paramilitary groups that sowed terror and death after the implosion of Yugoslavia in 1991.

After the life sentence of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic, international judges deliver their verdict on Wednesday, June 30, against two former Serbian internal security officials, retried in The Hague for their role in the “squadrons of death “which plagued Bosnia and Croatia in the 1990s.

Jovica Stanisic, 70, and Franko Simatovic, 71, are charged again with four crimes against humanity and one war crime, after being acquitted on the same charges in 2013.

Jovica Stanisic, former head of internal security of Serbia and key figure in Slobodan Milosevic’s regime, as well as his deputy Franko Simatovic are again accused of having organized, financed and supplied paramilitary groups after the breakup of Yugoslavia, in 1991.

>> To see: In Sarajevo, the conviction of Mladic is “a consolation”

These groups, like the elite unit of the “Red Berets”, led on the ground by Franko Simatovic according to the prosecution, have unleashed a wave of terror and destruction, attacking towns and assassinating Croats, Muslims and other populations. non-Serbs.

The two men plead not guilty. Prosecutors demand life imprisonment.

At least 280 murders in the indictment

The two former Serbian leaders, who were on parole, will be in court after going to the United Nations prison in The Hague last week, a court spokeswoman told AFP.

According to the prosecution, Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic were part of a joint criminal enterprise that also included Sloban Milosevic, who died of a heart attack in 2006 before the end of his trial, and the political leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic. , sentenced to life imprisonment.

The wars in the former Yugoslavia were the deadliest in Europe since the end of World War II. Their human toll is estimated at 130,000 dead and millions displaced.

The indictment includes at least 280 murders in some 20 specific attacks on towns and villages by paramilitary groups such as the elite “Red Berets” unit and the “Tigers” militia.

Zeljko Raznatovic, alias Arkan, leader of the “The Tigers” militia, was indicted by the court in The Hague but shot dead in Belgrade in 2000.

Judges sentenced

Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic were transferred to court in 2003, after being arrested by Serbian police following the assassination of Serbian reformist Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

In May 2013, the trial judges at first instance ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” the guilt of the two former Serbian leaders and acquitted them. This acquittal at first instance of the two former Serbian leaders by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sparked a wave of protests and the prosecution eventually appealed.

On December 15, 2015, a rare turnaround: the ICTY Appeals Chamber reversed the acquittal, arguing that the first judges were “wrong” on various points of law.

The new trial began in 2017, with final hearings taking place in April 2021.

Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic are among the last Balkan warlords detained in The Hague.

With AFP

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