Jovica Stanišić i Franko Simatović, izricanje piresude 31.5.2023.

The former chief of the State Security of Serbia Jovica Stanišić and his senior intelligence officer Franko Simatović were found guilty of participating in a joint criminal enterprise to forcibly and permanently remove the non-Serb population from parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia in 1992 - 1995, and were sentenced to 15 years in prison each. This was the last appeal judgment involving core crimes from cases originating before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), the successor of the ICTY, found Stanišić and Simatović responsible for the crimes committed in Bosanski Šamac, Bijeljina, Zvornik, Doboj, Sanski Most, Trnovo and Dalj in 1992 and 1995 by members of the units that were founded, trained, supported and financed by the Serbia's State Security Service while the two defendants were at its head.

The judgment, delivered on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Hague Tribunal, marks the end of  its last and longest trial. The ICTY indictment against Stanišić and Simatović was issued in 2003 charging them with persecutions, murders and inhuman acts committed as part of a joint criminal enterprise in parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period from 1991 to 1995. The trial began in 2009 and ended in 2013 with the acquittal of both defendants. The Trial Chamber led by Judge Alphons Orie found that crimes were indeed committed against Croats and Muslims in the areas of SAO Krajina and SAO Slavonia, Baranja and Zapadni Srem in Croatia, and in the municipalities of Bijeljina, Bosanski Šamac, Doboj, Sanski Most, Trnovo and Zvornik in BiH, but rejected the allegations of Stanišić's and Simatović's responsibility.

The prosecution filed an appeal, and two years later the ICTY Appeals Chamber ordered a retrial on all counts of the indictment. The Appeals Chamber judges established serious omissions in the first-instance verdict and decided it would be "inappropriate" for them to give a new assessment of the evidence, since they did not listen to the witnesses and assess the relevance of all the presented evidence, and therefore ordered a retrial.

The  new trial of Stanišić and Simatović began in 2017 and ended in 2021 with a judgment by which the former heads of the Serbian State Security were sentenced to 12 years in prison each for crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Trial Chamber rejected the allegations of the participation of Stanišić and Simatović in a joint criminal enterprise. They were found not guilty of crimes committed in the areas of the so-called SAO Krajina and SAO Baranja, Slavonia and Zapadni Srem in Croatia, and in the municipalities of Bijeljina, Zvornik, Sanski Most, Doboj and Trnovo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Still, it was the first and only judgment of the ICTY that convicted Serbian state officials.

Both sides appealed and the hearing was held in January 2023. On May 31 the Appeals Chamber delivered a judgment dismissing the grounds of appeal of Stanišić and Simatović and partially accepting the prosecution's appeal in the part that refers to the joint criminal enterprise. The former head of the State Security of Serbia Jovica Stanišić and his deputy and commander of the Special Operations Unit Franko Simatović were thus found guilty  of participating in a joint criminal enterprise and of being responsible for the crimes committed by various Serbian forces in 1992 in BiH - in Bijeljina, Zvornik, Bosanski Samac, Doboj and Sanski Most, and in 1995 in Trnovo and Sanski Most. They were also found responsible for the murder committed in Daljska Planina in Croatia in June 1992.