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Trial Judgement in Stanisic and Simatovic scheduled for Today

The Trial Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunal (“Mechanism”) has scheduled the pronouncement of the Trial Judgement in the case of Prosecutor v. Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović for Wednesday, 30 June 2021 at 3.00 p.m. CEST in the Courtroom of the Mechanism’s Hague branch.

Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović were arrested on 13 March 2003 in Serbia and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 30 May and 11 June 2003, respectively. On 1 May 2003, an ICTY Trial Chamber confirmed their indictment, which alleged that both Accused were co-perpetrators in a Joint Criminal Enterprise (JCE) to forcibly and permanently remove the majority of non-Serbs from large areas in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina through the commission of the crimes of persecution, murder, deportations and inhumane acts.

 On 30 May 2013, Trial Chamber I of the ICTY found, by majority, Stanišić and Simatović not responsible for committing the crimes alleged in the indictment through participation in a JCE, as the Trial Chamber found that it was not established beyond reasonable doubt that they possessed the requisite intent to further the common criminal purpose. The Trial Chamber also held that it had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had planned or ordered these crimes. Further, the Trial Chamber held, by majority, that it had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had aided and abetted the crimes. Consequently, the Trial Chamber, by majority, acquitted Stanišić and Simatović on all counts of the indictment.

Following the Prosecution’s appeal, the ICTY Appeals Chamber on 15 December 2015 granted, in part, the appeal and quashed the acquittals. The Appeals Chamber, by majority, found that the Trial Chamber erroneously failed to make findings on the existence and scope of a common criminal purpose shared by a plurality of persons prior to finding that the intent of Stanišić and Simatović was not established. In so doing, the Appeals Chamber, by majority, found that the Trial Chamber erred in law by failing to adjudicate and provide a reasoned opinion on essential elements of JCE liability.

The ICTY Appeals Chamber ordered that Stanišić and Simatović be retried on all counts of the indictment pursuant to Rule 117(C) of the ICTY Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

2. Retrial before the Mechanism

Both Accused made their initial appearances before the Mechanism on 18 December 2015 and pleaded not guilty. On 12 October 2016, the Prosecution filed a public redacted version of its pre-trial brief (filed confidentially on 5 September 2016). On 7 November 2016, Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović filed confidentially their Defence pre-trial briefs. In accordance with the Trial Chamber’s decision of 2 February 2017, the Prosecution filed a revised pre-trial brief on 9 March 2017, and the Accused filed their respective revised pre-trial briefs on 30 March 2017.

The trial commenced before the Mechanism on 13 June 2017 with the Prosecution’s opening statement. The Prosecution case was closed on 21 February 2019. A total of 51 witnesses were heard in court for the Prosecution.

On 9 April 2019, the Trial Chamber issued an oral decision pursuant to Rule 121 of the Mechanism’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence and dismissed the motion for acquittal filed by the Defence team for Franko Simatović.

The Defence case commenced on 18 June 2019 with the presentation of an opening statement by the Defence team for Jovica Stanišić. The testimony of the last Defence witness concluded on 8 October 2020. A total of 29 witnesses were heard in court for the Defence. The parties’ final trial briefs were filed confidentially on 12 and 13 March 2021 and the closing arguments took place on 12, 13, and 14 April 2021.

The Trial Chamber bench in this case is composed of Judge Burton Hall (Presiding), Judge Joseph E. Chiondo Masanche and Judge Seon Ki Park.

The Mechanism was established on 22 December 2010 by the United Nations Security Council to carry out a number of essential functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the ICTY, including completion of a limited number of cases inherited from the work of these two Tribunals.

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