As the retrial of Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic continued today, the defense tried to challenge the evidence of the first witness, former Federal SUP intelligence officer, using the same or similar questions he had been asked in his previous testimony, in 2008 and 2010

Today's cross-examination of the first prosecution witness, who also had the honour of opening the prosecution case at the first trial of Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, made evident that this was a retrial and not a new trial of the two former heads of the Serbian State Security Service. The witness is a former employee of the State Security Service in the Federal Secretariat of the Interior. In 1991, he was dispatched on a series of field missions in the hotspots in Croatia (Šibenik, Knin, Osijek and Baranja) to monitor the implementation of an agreement reached by the federal government and Croatian authorities to prevent inter-ethnic strife.

Just as the examination-in-chief yesterday, in the cross-examination of the witness by Stanisic's defense counsel Wayne Jordash mostly consisted of recycled questions the witness had already been asked in the first trial in 2008 and 2010. The defense lawyer again pinpointed some discrepancies in the statements the witness had given the prosecutors over the years, implying that his 'knowledge grew from one statement to the next' and that the new information was based on what the witness had read in the media. The witness denied it, but did agree with Jordash that the Belgrade media 'should be read with a great deal of caution, both at the time and now'.

The defense counsel noted that in his first statement to the prosecution in 2004 the witness did not mention having seen Stanisic in Knin personally; at that time, he stated he had 'heard' from his colleagues that the Serbian SDB was there to train Martic's militia in Golubic and that Stanisic would come to Knin to help set up the Krajina security service. Just as he did at the previous trial, the witness again said that he had focused on Milan Martic when giving that statement, because he had testified at his trial in 2006. His 'memory was refreshed' later and he could recall Stanisic's role in the events that preceded the war. Today he stuck to his statement from the first trial, repeating that he saw Stanisic in the spring of 1991 in front of Martic's MUP building and in a restaurant on the Krka waterfalls.

Just as it did in the first trial, the court went into private session for most of the cross-examination in order to protect the identity of persons who provided the witness with some information about the Serbian State Security Service operations in Croatia.

Franko Simatovic's defense will cross-examine WitnessRFJ 153 next week.