The judges at the UN war crimes tribunal sentenced two former heads of the Serbian state security service to 15 years in prison each. The appellate judges imposed a higher sentence than in the first instance. In 2021, Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic were each sentenced to twelve years in prison.
Presiding judge: “Judgment is a milestone”
It is the UN tribunal’s final verdict on war crimes in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s. The presiding judge Graciela Gatti Santana spoke of “a milestone”. Stanisic and Simatovic were convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including charges of murder, deportation, expulsion and persecution. According to the court, the two were pursuing the goal of “forcedly and permanently” expelling the majority of non-Serbs from large areas of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
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. Ten years ago, Stanisic and Simatovic were acquitted. But the controversial verdict was declared invalid in 2015 and a new trial ordered.
First international war crimes tribunal since Nuremberg trials
The UN tribunal based in The Hague wrote legal history with its legal review of the Bosnian war. It was the first international war crimes tribunal in Europe after the Nuremberg trials on the crimes of the German Nazis. The UN Security Council decided to set up the tribunal in 1993.
163 people had been indicted by the tribunal, 93 were convicted. The maximum penalty was life imprisonment six times; among others for the Serbian ex-general Ratko Mladic and the then political Serb leader Radovan Karadzic because of the genocide of Srebrenica in 1995. Despite the guilty verdicts, Mladic and Karadzic are still revered as heroes by many Bosnian Serbs. Around 130,000 people were killed in the Yugoslav wars and millions more had to flee.
bru/uh (dpa, afp)