THE HAGUE | 30.05.2013.

JOVICA STANISIC AND FRANKO SIMATOVIC ACQUITTED

Judge Orie’s Trial Chamber applied the principle of ‘specific direction’ from Momcilo Perisic’s appellate judgment, to acquit Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic on all counts in the indictment. Stanisic and Simatovic were charged with taking part in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at ethnically cleansing large parts of Croatia and BH. The judges have found that Stanisic and Simatovic did provide assistance to the units that committed murder, deportation, forcible transfer and persecution. However according to the Trial Chamber, Stanisic’s and Simatovic’s assistance wasn’t ‘specifically directed’ towards the crimes

The Trial Chamber headed by Dutch judge Alphons Orie acquitted former chiefs of the Serbian State Security Service Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic of all responsibility for the crimes against non-Serbs in Croatia and BH. The decision was reached by a majority vote. French judge Michele Picard appended her dissenting opinion on the key conclusions of the majority, Judge Orie and Judge Elizabeth Gwaunza from Zimbabwe.

The indictment charged Stanisic and Simatovic with taking part in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at the forcible and permanent expulsion of Croats, Muslims and other non-Serbs from large parts of Croatia and BH by murder, deportation, forcible transfer and persecution. The judgment stressed that the crimes did happen but that Stanisic and Simatovic weren’t responsible for them. The majority found that the accused didn’t have the intent to accomplish the goal of the joint criminal enterprise.

Jovica Stanisic’s statement in Dalj in September 1991 was taken into consideration: Stanisic angrily asked the local authorities there why Vukovar hadn’t yet been liberated. The judges also considered the presence of Franko Simatovic at various meetings before the fall of Vukovar and at the ceremony after the town was captured. There was no evidence of what actually happened at those events. The Trial Chamber accepted that Simatovic planned with others the attack on the village of Lovinac in Krajina and the expulsion of the local population. However, it was not established if the expulsion was actually carried out, the judges stated in the judgment.

The judges analyzed not only the words but also the deeds of the accused related to the efforts to establish, assist, support and command the units that perpetrated crimes in Croatia and BH. It was found that Stanisic and Simatovic established, supported and managed the Serbian State Security Service unit known as the Red Berets. Stanisic and Simatovic ‘must have known’ that the members of that unit killed and expelled civilians in 1992 in Bosanski Samac and then carried out the deportations and forcible transfers in Doboj. However, Stanisic’s and Simatovic’s support to the unit was not ‘specifically directed’ to the commission of the crimes but to ‘establishing and maintaining [Serb] control’ over the towns and other parts of BH and Croatia.

Although Stanisic and Simatovic aided and abetted the SAO Krajina police, also known as ‘Martic’s police’, the majority found that the support was not directed to the commission of the crimes. The Trial Chamber found that Martic’s police committed many murders and participated in the expulsion of about 80,000 to 100,000 Croats. The judgment notes that the Serbian State Security Service formed its first of many training centers in Golubic near Knin. Trainees from that center were later assigned to the units that committed crimes but this was not sufficient to convict Stanisic and Simatovic.

The links between the accused and ‘Arkan’s men’ and the Scorpions unit were loose cannon in the Trial Chambers view. In other words, the links were insufficient for a conclusion that Stanisic’s and Simatovic’s help to the units was ‘specifically directed’ to the commission of the crimes. Arkan’s men committed numerous crimes in Eastern Slavonia and BH. The Scorpions killed six youths and boys from Srebrenica in Trnovo.

The majority thus applied the principle of ‘specific direction’ established in the appellate judgment by the Chamber headed by Judge Theodor Meron, in the case against Momcilo Perisic. Perisic was acquitted on appeal because the judges found that the help the Yugoslav Army had provided to the Krajina and Bosnian Serb armies ‘was not specifically directed to the commission of the crimes’ but to their war effort.

It worth pointing that Judge Orie’s Trial Chamber didn’t accept the argument that Stanisic and Simatovic provided ‘channels of communication’ between ‘core members’ of the joint criminal enterprise, Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic and Milan Martic.

After the judgment was delivered, the judges ordered the immediate release of Stanisic and Simatovic from the Tribunal’s Detention Unit. Stanisic and Simatovic arrived in the detention unit in the spring of 2003. Stanisic and Simatovic were often granted provisional release as they awaited trial, during the trial and pending the judgment.