The Trial Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), composed of Judges Burton Hall (The Bahamas), presiding, Joseph Masanche (Tanzania), and Seon Ki Park (Republic of Korea), today delivered its judgement in the case of Prosecutor v. Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović.
The Trial Chamber found Mr. Stanišić and Mr. Simatović responsible for aiding and abetting the crime of murder, as a violation of the laws or customs of war and a crime against humanity, and the crimes of deportation, forcible transfer, and persecution, as crimes against humanity, committed by Serb forces following the takeover of Bosanski Šamac in April 1992. Specifically, the Trial Chamber found that the Accused provided practical assistance, which had a substantial effect on the commission of the crimes, by training and deploying members of a special unit of the Serbian State Security Service and local Serbs from Bosanski Šamac to participate in the takeover of the municipality.
Accordingly, the Trial Chamber found Mr. Stanišić and Mr. Simatović guilty under all counts of the Indictment and sentenced them to 12 years of imprisonment each, subject to credit for the period of time they have spent in custody thus far.
This is the first retrial held before the Mechanism. Mr. Stanišić, formerly Deputy Chief and Chief of the State Security Service (DB) of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia, and Mr. Simatović, formerly employed in the Second Administration of the Serbian DB, were charged before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with having directed, organised, equipped, trained, armed, and financed special units of the DB and other Serb forces, which were involved in the commission of murder, persecution, deportation, and forcible transfer of non-Serb civilians from large areas of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1991 and 1995.
On 30 May 2013, an ICTY Trial Chamber found that Mr. Stanišić and Mr. Simatović could not be held criminally responsible for these crimes and acquitted both accused of all charges. Following the appeals proceedings, on 15 December 2015, the ICTY Appeals Chamber quashed the ICTY Trial Chamber’s decision and ordered a retrial and the immediate detention of the accused.
The retrial commenced before the Mechanism on 13 June 2017 with the Prosecution’s opening statement. The Prosecution case was closed on 21 February 2019. A total of 51 witnesses were heard in court for the Prosecution.
The Stanišić and Simatović Defence cases commenced, respectively, on 18 June and 12 November 2019, and a total of 29 witnesses were heard in court for both accused. Both Defence cases closed on 23 February 2021. The closing arguments were heard on 12, 13, and 14 April 2021.