Belgrade before the ICTY again

18 February 2008 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

On March 10, 2008, almost two years to the day after former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic died, the trial of Jovica Stanisic and Franko "Frenki" Simatovic is expected to start before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). But this trial, which could help establish the link between Belgrade and the Bosnian Serbs who perpetrated the Srebrenica massacre, is likely to be something of a sideshow. 

At the time, Stanisic was head of the Serbian State Security Service and Simatovic commanded a Special Operations Unit within the Intelligence Administration. Both Serbs were allegedly operating under the authority of Belgrade, Stanisic more openly than Simatovic. Their indictment covers a long period from April 1991 to December 1995. It thus includes violent acts committed at the start of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, as well as the fall of the Srebrenica enclave in July 1995. The two men are accused of having been part of a criminal enterprise which included, among others, Milosevic, Serb paramilitary leader Vojislav Seselj (currently on trial at The Hague), former Bosnian Serb president Biljana Plavsic (serving an 11- year prison sentence) and her predecessor Radovan Karadzic (still at large). The two defendants are held responsible for the establishment and running of illegal armed units like the Red Berets, Arkan's Tigers and the Scorpions. These paramilitary units were mentioned countless times in the many trials before the ICTY.

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