Bosnian survivors are hoping for justice and reparation

New trial against two alleged Serbian war criminals (June 13) (Press Release)

Photo: UN Photo/ICJ-CIJ/Frank van Beek. With kind approval of ICJ. [representative photo]

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) welcomes the fact that the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague decided to reopen the case against the two Serbs Jovica Stanisic and Frank Simatovic on Tuesday. “We expect the trial to ensure that the surviving victims will receive justice –for which they have been waiting for more than 20 years,” the human rights organization stated. “In addition, the trial will surely demonstrate how deeply Serbia was involved in planning and carrying out the crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995.”

During the Bosnian War (1992-1995) Stanisic had been head of the Serbian State Security Service (SDB), and Simatovic had been commander of the unit for special operations of the SDB. They are accused of establishing secret military and paramilitary units within the framework of the SDB, providing them with weapons, financing them, and controlling their operations. These units carried out massacres and executions of the non-Serbian civilian population – and they tortured, robbed and plundered in many places in Bosnia, in the Croatian Krajina, and in Slavonia, in order to drive away the non-Serb people.

These units included the “Crvene Beretke” (Red Berets), the “Škorpioni”, the “Arkanovci” and the “Marti?eva Milicija”, which had raged in the cities and villages of Sanski Most, Bijeljina, Bosanski Samac, Doboj, Zvornik, and Trnovo – among others. The fact that the “Škorpioni” had filmed the shooting of six men from Srebrenica on July 17, 1995, had gotten worldwide attention. Most of the victims were minors who had been brought to Trnovo (Central Bosnia) after the fall of Srebrenica. The footage of the shooting, which had been locked away for years, had later been shown during the court proceedings against Slobodan Milosevic in June 2005.

Stanisic and Simatovic had faced the International War Crimes Tribunal once before already, but – to the horror of the victims – were acquitted and released in 2013. In December 2015, however, the Chamber of Appeals decided that this judgment was based on numerous procedural errors and had initiated a new trial against the defendants.

Header Photo: UN Photo/ICJ-CIJ/Frank van Beek. With kind approval of ICJ. [representative photo]