The majority of Trial Chamber, Judge Picard dissenting, today acquitted of all charges Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, former Chief of the Serbian State Security Service and former employee of the Serbian State Security Service. The Trial Chamber ordered their immediate release.
The two accused were charged with having directed, organised, equipped, trained, armed and financed units of the Serbian State Security Service which murdered, persecuted, deported and forcibly transferred non-Serb civilians from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Croatia between 1991 and 1995.
The Prosecution alleged that the two accused participated in a joint criminal enterprise (JCE), the objective of which was the forcible and permanent removal of the majority of non-Serbs from large areas in SAO Krajina and the SAO Slavonia, Baranja, Western Srem in Croatia, and the municipalities of Bijeljina, Bosanski Šamac, Doboj, Sanski Most, Zvornik and Trnovo in BiH. Stanišić and Simatović were further charged with planning, ordering, and otherwise aiding and abetting the crimes committed by the special units.
The Chamber today found that those units committed the crimes of deportation, forcible transfer and murder at numerous locations in those two countries, and that they constitute persecution as a crime against humanity.
However, the Chamber found that Stanišić and Simatović cannot be held criminally responsible for these crimes. After analysing evidence, the majority, Judge Picard dissenting, was unable to conclude that the accused shared the intent to further the common criminal purpose of the JCE. The Chamber also found that it was not proven beyond reasonable doubt that Stanišić or Simatović planned or ordered the crimes. With regard to the allegations of aiding and abetting, the majority determined, Judge Picard dissenting, that in the instances that the two accused rendered assistance to the special units, this assistance was not specifically directed towards the commission of crimes.
The initial indictment against Stanišić and Simatović was filed on 1 May 2003. Both accused were arrested by Serbian authorities on 13 March 2003. Simatović was transferred to the ICTY’s custody on 30 May 2003 and Stanišić on 11 June 2003. Simatović and Stanišić pleaded not guilty to all charges at their initial appearances which were held on 2 June 2003 and 13 June 2003 respectively. The trial was initially scheduled to start on 28 February 2008. However, due to the ill-health of Jovica Stanišić, its commencement was postponed on a number of occasions. The trial re-started on 9 June 2009. The Prosecution rested its case on 5 April 2011 after presenting the evidence of 97 witnesses. The Defence case commenced on 15 June 2011 and was officially closed on 17 September 2012. Stanišić’s Defence presented the evidence of 21 witnesses while 15 testified on behalf of Simatović. Almost 5,000 exhibits were admitted into evidence. The closing arguments were held from 29 to 31 January 2013.
Since its establishment, the Tribunal has indicted 161 persons for serious violations of humanitarian law committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001. Proceedings against 136 have been concluded. Proceedings are currently ongoing for 25 accused.
The video of the Judgement will shortly be available on YouTube