Former Serbian spy chiefs convicted

A UN tribunal in The Hague has sentenced two former heads of the Serbian state security service to lengthy prison terms.

It is the last verdict on crimes committed during the Bosnian war in the 1990s.

The UN war tribunal in The Hague has sentenced two former heads of the Serbian state security service to 15 years in prison each. The appellate judges in The Hague thus imposed a heavier sentence than in the first instance. In 2021, 72-year-old Jovica Stanisic and 73-year-old Franco Simatovic were each sentenced to twelve years in prison.

It is the UN tribunal’s final verdict on war crimes in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The case of the former spy chiefs has been pending for more than two decades, making it one of the longest international war crimes investigations in the former Yugoslavia. The presiding judge Graciela Gatti Santana spoke of “a milestone”.

Stanisic and Simatovic were convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity – such as murder, deportation, expulsion and persecution. According to the court, they were pursuing the goal of “forcibly and permanently expelling the majority of non-Serbs from large areas of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina”.

Guilt proven beyond a doubt

The appellate judges saw the guilt of the accused for crimes in other places as proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In doing so, they complied with a request from the prosecution and increased the sentence. The defense attorneys, on the other hand, argued that the role played by the two men was much smaller.

Stanisic was head of the state security service and Simatovic his deputy. Both were close confidants of President Slobodan Milosevic. He too had been indicted by the UN tribunal, but died in 2006 before the end of the trial.

Adopted by the UN Security Council in 1993

The UN tribunal based in The Hague made legal history. It was the first international war crimes tribunal in Europe after the Nuremberg trials on the crimes of the German Nazis after World War II. The UN Security Council decided to set up the tribunal in 1993. 163 people were charged and 93 were convicted.

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