Judgment of the Special Tribunal in The Hague (June 30)

Serbian intelligence leaders have to answer for their actions (Press Release)

On Wednesday, June 30, the Special Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague will probably issue its final judgement. Jovica Staniši?, the former Serbian head of state security, and his deputy Simatovi? are on trial for allegedly sending paramilitary units to take part in the genocide crimes against the Bosniak people. "The two intelligence officials built up the infamous units and financed them. The special units were supposed to help carry out the ethnic cleansing, for which the former political leadership of Serbia was already convicted," stated Jasna Causevic, expert on genocide prevention and the Responsibility to Protect at the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP). "Their acquittal in the first instance was wrong – and highly controversial among experts. In its probably last judgement, the tribunal will have to set this straight." 

In 2013, the acquittal in the first instance had caused quite a stir – especially among the survivors and the family members of the victims. Two years later, the prosecutors had appealed against the decision. In a recent statement to the STP, Historian and Holocaust expert David Pettigrew explained that, whatever the outcome of the verdict regarding the responsibilities of Staniši? and Simatovi?, the direct involvement of Serbia in the atrocities has been documented repeatedly and convincingly. Further, the existing the existing genocide rulings should be seen as final and should not be debated, denied, or otherwise affected by the verdict. "With respect to genocide denial, what would be more important than a guilty verdict in the case of Staniši? and Simatovi?, would be the implementation of a law in Bosnia against genocide denial and against the glorification of convicted war criminals in Republika Srpska. Such a law would reaffirm the importance of the rule of law in a post-genocide society and pave the way for restorative justice," Pettigrew stated.

The paramilitary units the two defendants had built up – known as "Tigers", as "Red Berets" and as "Scorpions" – left a trail of destruction in Croatia as of 1991, and also in Bosnia and Herzegovina as of April 1992. They are said to have been involved in the murder or deportation of tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats. The STP is convinced that the court will find the two masterminds behind these crimes guilty. "Like military and political leaders, important intelligence officials have to answer for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide crimes as well. The principle of command responsibility must not be undermined – that would be fatal for all future jurisdiction," Causevic emphasized.