Ex-chiefs of state security, Red Berets acquitted
The Hague Tribunal on Thursday acquitted of all charges former Serbian state security officials Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović.Source: B92, Beta, Tanjug
Stanišić is former head of the State Security Service (DB), while Simatović commended DB's Special Operations Unit (JSO, aka Red Berets).
Stanišić and Simatović stood accused of crimes against non-Serb civilians in Bosnia and Croatia, in the period between 1991 and 1995.
The decision to free them of all charges was made by the majority of the Trial Chamber, Judge Michele Picard dissenting. The Chamber also ordered their immediate release.
Stanišić and Simatović were accused of having directed, organized, equipped, trained, armed and financed units of the Serbian State Security Service which murdered, persecuted, deported and forcibly transferred non-Serb civilians.
The Hague prosecution alleged that the two accused participated in a joint criminal enterprise.
But the Trial Chamber found that while those units committed the crimes of deportation, forcible transfer and murder, Stanišić and Simatović "cannot be held criminally responsible for these crimes."
The majority, Judge Picard dissenting, was unable to conclude that the accused shared the intent to further the common criminal purpose of the JCE.
The Chamber also did not conclude that Stanišić acted as liaison between Slobodan Milošević and Radovan Karadžić and Milan Martić, which, it was stated, were the main organizers of the JCE.
With the exception of Doboj and Bosanski Šamac, the Chamber did not find that the Special Operations Unit had committed crimes during its operations.
In their closing arguments, the prosecution sought life in prison for both defendants, while the defense asked the judges to acquit their clients.
Stanišić and Simatović were arrested on March 13, 2003, a day after the assassination of Zoran Đinđić, and extradited to the Hague Tribunal in May and June the same year.
They both pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against them.
Serbian PM Ivica Dačić welcomed the verdict today and asserted that it was "of great significance for Serbia."