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Autor: BIRN
Objavljeno: 08. Mar 2018. 21:03:55

Former Serbian State Security Service Jovica Stanisic’s defence denied that the ‘Tigers’ paramilitary unit led by Arkan and the ‘Scorpions’ fighters were commanded by Belgrade during the Croatian and Bosnian wars.

Jovica Stanisic’s defence lawyer told his trial at the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague on Thursday that fighters led by Zeljko ‘Arkan’ Raznatovic and the Scorpions paramilitary unit were not commanded by the Serbian State Security Service (SDB) during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

Prosecution military expert Reynaud Theunens argued that the Serbian SDB had “command and control” over the Scorpions and Arkan’s Serbian Volunteer Guard unit, also known as the Tigers.

But according to documents that Theunens analysed, they were not formally part of the SDB, he added.

The indictment charges Stanisic and his former assistant Franko Simatovic, alias Frenki, with the persecution, murders and deportations of Croat and Bosniak civilians during the Croatian and Bosnian wars.

It alleges that Arkan’s unit and the Scorpions, whose members committed some of the crimes, were part of the Serbian SDB which was headed by the defendants.

Stanisic’s defence lawyer Wayne Jordash asked Theunens “whether Stanisic could have ordered Raznatovic-Arkan to go into battle in 1992”.

The witness said he had not seen any documents proving that Stanisic gave orders to Arkan directly, but Ratko Mladic’s war log was proof that Raznatovic’s unit was present on the battlefield right after Stanisic had promised to deploy it there.

In order to prove his conclusion that Arkan’s unit had “the support of the Serbian SDB”, Theunens mentioned the fact that the Tigers returned to Serbia without any obstacles after having participated in taking territories claimed by Serbs on battlefields in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which he claimed was the SDB’s goal.

Theunens quoted a report made by Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) intelligence officers in October 1991, saying that “Arkan went into action after JNA had cleaned up the villages and committed crimes”, while “enjoying support from the Serbian SDB”, whose identity document he “allegedly had”.

Stanisic’s defence also denied that the Serbian SDB leadership controlled Dragan Vasiljkovic, also known as Captain Dragan, who trained and led a Serb special unit of fighters in the Kninska Krajina area of Croatia in 1991.

Theunens maintained that Captain Dragan was closely associated with the SDB which, according to the documents he analysed, brought him into the country from abroad.

However, the witness admitted that he had not come across evidence of a direct link between Captain Dragan and Stanisic.

Jordash presented Serbian SDB documents indicating that in 1990, the service carried out secret surveillance of Captain Dragan, who it considered potentially dangerous to the constitutional order in Serbia.

Theunens responded by calling on Simatovic’s report from April 1991, which referred to a conversation that the SDB chief had with Captain Dragan about engaging him.

“That document suggests that the Serbian SDB did not consider Captain Dragan a threat,” Theunens said.

Captain Dragan was convicted by a Zagreb court last September of committing war crimes in Croatia, and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Stanisic and Simatovic both pleaded not guilty in December 2015 after the appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia overturned their acquittal in their first trial.

The appeals chamber ruled that there were serious legal and factual errors when Stanisic and Simatovic were initially acquitted of war crimes in 2013, and ordered the case to be retried and all the evidence and witnesses reheard in full by new judges.

Stanisic’s defence will continue cross-examining Theunens on Tuesday.

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