THE HAGUE | 27.08.2009.

‘ARKAN’S MEN’ AND ‘SCORPIONS’ UNDER STATE SECURITY UMBRELLA

Former reserve officer in the Serbian MUP Milomir Kovacevic claims he saw ‘Arkan’s men’ and ‘Scorpions’ in 1991 in Eastern Slavonia and in 1995 in Bosnian Krajina. Kovacevic heard from several sources that they operated under the command of the Serbian State Security Service. The witness also saw the accused Stanisic and Simatovic in ‘Arkan’s men’ headquarters in Erdut and in Serbia when arms and personnel were sent to the frontlines

The trial of former chief of Serbian State Security Service (DB) Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic continued with the examination-in-chief of former Serbian MUP reserve officer Milomir Kovacevic, who took the stand as a new prosecution witness. Kovacevic was a driver; in 1991, he was transferred to Eastern Slavonia. His war career ended in 1995 in Western BH. Kovacevic has recently given evidence at the trial of former chief of the VJ General Staff Momcilo Perisic. Today, the statements Kovacevic gave to the OTP investigators in 2003 and 2009 were tendered into evidence.

During his stay in Western Slavonia and Baranja in 1991 and 1992 the witness had several close encounters with members of the Serb Volunteer Guard (SDG) led by Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan, and with the ‘Scorpions’ unit. Kovacevic contends that both formations were controlled by the Serbian State Security Service, headed at that time by Jovica Stanisic. Franko Simatovic was Stanisic’s deputy. In September or October 1991, the witness attended a meeting where Raznatovic showed a blue ID card issued by the Serbian State Security Service and claimed that the Serbian government and the intelligence service were behind him. The ‘Scorpions’ were at that time guarding the oil fields in Djeletovci, the witness said, adding that a Serbian intelligence officer in the field told him that they operated there DB control.

In 1995 Kovacevic was in Western BH where he saw Arkan and his unit. According to the witness, an officer then showed him a letter in which Republika Srpska authorities asked the Serbian interior and defense ministries to support the Serb Volunteer Guard in combat operations.

The witness met with the OTP representatives at a proofing session on 25 August 2009, when he described some situations in the 90's when he saw the two accused. In 1991, the witness claims he saw Stanisic and Simatovic once in Erdut, where the Serbian MUP had its training center; Arkan’s Guard and the Territorial Defense under the command of Radovan Stojcic Badza had their headquarters there too. The witness also saw the accused in Serbia when weapons and other logistical supplies were loaded for delivery to the Serb armies in Bosnia and Croatia. In 1994 or 1995 the witness saw Stanisic in the Danube harbor in Belgrade; a convoy with arms, oil and other goods took off for Croatia and BH from there. Simatovic was present on two occasions in the Bubanj Potok barracks near Belgrade in the period from 1991 to 1994 when volunteers were transported to frontlines across the Drina River, the witness said.

There will be a one week break at the trial of the former Security Service chiefs. Simatovic should appoint new counsel as his lawyer has passed away recently.

Milomir Kovacevic’s evidence has not been completed and he will return to The Hague later for his cross-examination.