Justice Update – Septuagenarian Serbian Spies

Franko Simatović (left) and Jovica Stanišić (right), when they were arrested in March 2003. Photo: UNIRMCT 

We thought we should note the milestone ruling at the United Nations Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (the Mechanism); the definitive verdict in the final case dealing with the wars that tore apart the Yugoslav Federal Republic in the 1990s.

This was the first time Serbian state officials have been convicted for crimes committed by Serb-backed militias on the ground in neighbouring Bosnia. The two men are Stanisic and Simatovic, Serbian spymasters, who set up their own paramilitary units inside Serbian state security, with two notorious branches; the Red Berets and Arkan’s Tigers.

Right after the judgment came out, we asked Balkans paramilitary researcher Iva Vukusic for a comment on what it means for international law and what it feels like for someone who has been following these proceedings for 20 years. Together with Courthouse News reporter Molly Quell, we discuss why it stretched for so long and what problems that brings along.

For more background check out Dogs of War with Balkans paramilitary researcher Iva Vukusic and Balkan Spies with Marija Ristic and Iva Vukusic again.

We have a variety of suggestions this week – Molly has been reading Antony Beevor’s The Second World War and My Life as a Rat by Joyce Carol Oates (not recommended for a beach read). Janet recommends a series of lectures by Timothy Snyder called The Making of Modern Ukraine. Stephanie has been listening to a series from The Rest is History podcast on the history of Ireland.

If you are fascinated by the history of Balkan war criminals brought to trial and are wondering how they caught them in the first place, over on Patreon we discussed the book The Burther’s Trail by Julian Borger. It talks about the 14-year-long manhunt to get fugitives to the Hague.