THE HAGUE | 20.01.2010.

AFTER MORE THAN FIVE YEARS, JOVICA STANISIC BACK IN COURT

The former chief of the Serbian State Security Service arrived in the courtroom today to complain in person to the judges that the Dutch medical doctors are treating him ‘negligently but not on purpose’. A former member of the Special Operations Unit of the Serbian State Security, the Red Berets, began his evidence

Jovica Stanisic, former chief of the Serbian State Security Service, appeared today in the courtroom for the first time after September 2004, when he had attended a hearing on provisional release for him and his co-defendant Franko Simatovic. Stanisic and Simatovic face trial for crimes perpetrated by the special units of the Serbian secret police in Croatia and BH from 1991 to 1995. The trial opened twice in Stanisic’s absence: he maintained he was too ill to appear in the courtroom. In late 2009, Stanisic did agree to follow the trial a few times via video link established specially for him between the Tribunal and the UN Detention Unit.

Today, Stanisic appeared in court to personally complain to the judges against the Dutch doctors. As Stanisic put it, Dutch doctors treat his chronic conditions of the digestive tract and numerous other illnesses ‘negligently, but they don’t do it on purpose’. This, Stanisic argued, has resulted in ‘the acute thrombosis in both legs’. Stanisic has already described all this to the Trial Chamber in a detailed letter. Judge Orie interrupted him, telling him he was ‘going into details’ and noted that the Trial Chamber has ‘already taken certain measures’ within its power.

After a discussion of the therapy of the accused, the prosecution called its new witness, testifying with protective measures. Testifying under the pseudonym JF-005, the witness said that in the spring of 1992 he was drafted into the Special Operations Unit known as the Red Berets. The witness was sent for training to a camp on Mount Ozren near Doboj. Members of the State Security Department headed by Radojica Raja Bozovic established the camp and conducted training. Franko Simatovic personally visited the camp on at least one occasion, the witness said.

The witness was shown a film taken in the JSO Center in Kula in May 1997, when Slobodan Milosevic visited the unit, escorted by various officials. The witness confirmed that Simatovic’s welcome speech was true: the Berets were established in May 1991 and they fought outside of Serbia. The witness added that, as far as he knew, Franko Simatovic actually founded the Special Operations Unit.

This is crucial for the prosecution case since both Stanisic and Simatovic maintain that the unit was established only in 1996. According to Stanisic and Simatovic, the speech given at a ceremony was an impromptu address, misrepresenting the history of the unit and its war record. Stanisic and Simatovic also claimed that the Serbian secret police didn’t take part in combat and its members only collected information.

As alleged in the indictment, Stanisic and Simatovic established a number other paramilitary units apart from the Red Berets. For the most part, the units consisted of volunteers from Serbia who terrorized the non-Serb population in Croatia and BH.

In the clips, the witness was able to recognize Radojica Bozovic, shown shaking hands with Simatovic. According to the witness, Bozovic was his chief trainer in the camp on Mount Ozren. The witness said that similar camps had been running during the war throughout Croatia and BH in places with Serb majority.

The defense objections took up much of today’s court time. Defense lawyers Wayne Jordash and Vladimir Petrovic contended they had not been told about the witness’s testimony, and asked that some of the documents and topics be excluded from evidence. They also wanted to postpone their cross-examination of the witness. The Trial Chamber overruled their objection, but allowed the possibility of later recall of the witness if necessary, for further cross-examination.

The evidence of the former Red Berets member continues tomorrow.