Top Serbian security officials convicted at Hague for Bosnia war crimes

A United Nations court on Wednesday convicted two wartime Serbian State Security officials for aiding and abetting war crimes committed by Serbian paramilitaries during Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 1992–95 war, AP reports.

Why it matters: This is the final U.N. trial at the Hague for crimes committed during the breakup of Yugoslavia. It’s the first time that high-ranking wartime Serbian government officials have been convicted for crimes committed in Bosnia, per the New York Times.

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The state of play: Jovica Stanisic, the former head of Serbian State Security, and Franko Simatovic, his former deputy, were each sentenced to 12 years in prison for helping to ethnically cleanse non-Serbs from the Bosnian town of Bosanski Samac.

  • Stanisic and Simatovic were accused of “running a joint criminal enterprise” to ethnically cleanse non-Serbs from areas of Bosnia and Croatia.

  • Wednesday’s conviction is more narrow, focusing only on one Bosnian municipality, while the court said there wasn’t enough evidence to link them to a wider set of similar crimes in other parts of Bosnia and Croatia.

  • This concludes a retrial of their case — they were initially acquitted in 2013 — but the judgment can be appealed, according to AP.

What they’re saying: “The trial chamber is satisfied that the accused provided practical assistance which had a substantial effect on the commission of the crimes of murder, forcible displacement and persecution committed in Bosanski Samac and were aware that their acts assisted in their commission,” Presiding Judge Burton Hall said, per AP.

  • “The convictions of Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic are steps forward in ensuring accountability for those most responsible for the atrocity crimes committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia,” said Brammertz, per Balkan Insight.

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