Serb Police ‘Robbed and Killed Croats’ in 1991

5. July 2017.17:07
At the retrial of former Serbian security chiefs Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic in The Hague, a prosecution witness said Serb police robbed and killed Croats in an attack on a Croatian village in 1991. A written statement by a protected prosecution witness codenamed RFJ-072, accusing local Serb police of committing crimes during an attack on the Croatian village of Saborsko in the country’s Lika region in November 1991, was read in the courtroom at the retrial of Stanisic and Simatovic at the Mechanism for International Tribunals on Wednesday.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

According to the summary of the witness’s written statement, read by prosecutor Edward Russo, RFJ-072 “did not see corpses, but he heard that 10 to 20 persons were killed and their bodies cut into pieces… He saw Serb soldiers setting their houses on fire”.

The witness said those crimes were committed by ‘Martic’s Men’, a special unit of “the regular police” named after Milan Martic, who was minister of internal affairs of the Serb Autonomous Region of Krajina, an unrecognised Serb wartime statelet in Croatia.

Witness RFJ-072 described Martic’s Men as “local Serbs, who had been trained in the Golubic camp”.

According to the witness, “many of Martic’s men were honourable, but some of them just wanted to commit crimes. They did that during and after the attack [on Saborsko]”.

The indictment alleges that Martic’s fighters and other units were trained at the camp in Golubic in Croatia, which was established and controlled by the Serbian State Security Service (SDB).

Stanisic was the chief of the SDB, while Simatovic was his assistant.

They are charged with the persecution, murders, deportations and forcible resettlement of Croat and Bosniak civilians during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1991 to 1995.

Witness RFJ-072 said that in his capacity as a member of Serb Territorial Defence forces, he participated in the attack on Saborsko on November 12, 1991, which he said was carried out by the Yugoslav People’s Army and Serb Autonomous Region of Krajina police.

According to his written statement, Saborsko was “totally destroyed” and pillaged in that attack.

“The whole village was on fire,” the witness also said in the courtroom, adding that nobody even tried to put out the blaze or bury the dead.

Stanisic and Simatovic both pleaded not guilty in December last year after the appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia overturned their acquittal in their first trial.

The tribunal ruled on December 15 that there were serious legal and factual errors when Stanisic and Simatovic were initially acquitted of war crimes in 2013, and ordered the case to be retried and all the evidence and witnesses reheard in full by new judges.

The trial continues on Thursday.

Radoša Milutinović

This post is also available in: Bosnian