Appeal Judgement in Prosecutor v. Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović scheduled for 31 May 2023: Accreditation procedure now open
The accreditation procedure is now open for those wishing to attend the pronouncement of the Appeal Judgement in the case of Prosecutor v. Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović on Wednesday, 31 May 2023 at 11:30 CEST in the Courtroom of the Hague branch of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism).
Media representatives wishing to enter the Mechanism’s premises in The Hague on 31 May 2023 must submit an accreditation request to email@example.com by Thursday, 25 May 2023 at 15:00 CEST. Accreditation requests should include the full name of the media outlet, journalist(s), cameramen, and other technicians, as well as passport or ID number.
Additionally, a status conference in the case will be held on Wednesday, 17 May 2023 at 14:30 CEST in the Courtroom of the Mechanism's Hague branch. There will be no accreditation requirement to attend the status conference. More information on the regular attendance procedure for the Mechanism’s hearings can be found here.
Non-media representatives (including members of the diplomatic corps) and members of the public wishing to attend the pronouncement of the Appeal Judgement must request accreditation by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, 25 May 2023 at 15:00 CEST.
Accredited media representatives, non-media representatives, and members of the public will be notified by email of the status of their accreditation and collection details by COB on Friday, 26 May 2023.
The hearing will be publicly broadcast on the Mechanism’s website with a 30-minute delay and will be available at the following link. The hearings can be followed in English, French and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian.
Filming of the proceedings will be carried out by authorised Mechanism staff and an audiovisual copy of the hearing will be distributed after the hearing is complete. Media representatives wishing to obtain footage of the hearing should send a request to email@example.com. Please note that footage will be provided in the MP4 format and it will include the option of English, French, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, or floor channel.
Media representatives wishing to record excerpts of the hearing are requested to let the Mechanism know as soon as possible.
Limited break-out boxes for audio and video feeds are available inside and outside of the Mechanism’s premises. However, media organisations must ensure that they have an adequate supply of cabling and power. Connection to the feeds will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Limited space is available in the vicinity of the Mechanism building for SNG trucks. The Mechanism does not issue accreditations for SNG trucks and spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Trucks parked in non-designated areas will be asked to move by the local authorities.
- General Information on Proceedings Before the ICTY and the Mechanism
As detailed below, this case commenced before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The relevant proceedings before the ICTY concluded in December 2015, with the ICTY Appeals Chamber ordering a full retrial. Consequently, the case fell within the jurisdiction of the Mechanism, which the United Nations Security Council had established to continue the ICTY’s jurisdiction, rights, obligations and essential functions in light of the ICTY’s anticipated closure. The retrial before the Mechanism concluded with the issuance of the written Trial Judgement on 6 August 2021. The hearing of the appeals on 24 and 25 January 2023 marked the end of the pre-appeal phase of this case, which had commenced in September 2021. The Appeals Chamber has scheduled the pronouncement of the Appeal Judgement for 31 May 2023.
- Trial and Appeal Proceedings Before the ICTY
Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović were arrested on 13 March 2003 in Serbia. On 1 May 2003, an ICTY Trial Chamber confirmed their original 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, deportation and inhumane acts. Simatović was transferred to the ICTY on 30 May and Stanišić arrived on 11 June 2003.
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 appeal by the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor, 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.
- Retrial Before the Mechanism
Following the judgement of the ICTY Appeals Chamber, Stanišić and Simatović made their initial appearances before the Trial Chamber of the Mechanism on 18 December 2015 and pleaded not guilty. On 12 October 2016, the Office of the Prosecutor of the Mechanism (Prosecution) filed a public redacted version of its pre-trial brief, which had been 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 retrial commenced before the Mechanism on 13 June 2017 with the Prosecution’s opening statement.
The Prosecution case 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 made by the Defence team for Franko Simatović.
The Defence case for Jovica Stanišić commenced on 18 June 2019 with the presentation of an opening statement by his Defence team, while the Defence case for Franko Simatović commenced on 12 November 2019. The testimony of the last Defence witness concluded on 8 October 2020, and both Defence cases were closed on 23 February 2021. 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 Judgement was pronounced on 30 June 2021.
The Mechanism Trial Chamber found Stanišić and Simatović responsible for aiding and abetting the crimes of murder as a violation of the laws or customs of war and as a crime against humanity, and the crimes of deportation, forcible transfer, and persecution as crimes against humanity, committed by Serb forces following the takeover of Bosanski Šamac in April 1992. Specifically, the Trial Chamber found that the accused provided practical assistance, which had a substantial effect on the commission of the crimes, by training and deploying members of a special unit of the Serbian State Security Service and local Serbs from Bosanski Šamac to participate in the takeover of the municipality.
Accordingly, the Trial Chamber found Stanišić and Simatović guilty under all counts of the Indictment and sentenced each to 12 years of imprisonment.
- Appeal Proceedings Before the Mechanism
Following the pronouncement of the Trial Judgement on 30 June 2021, with the written reasons for the Judgement issued on 6 August 2021, Stanišić, Simatović, and the Prosecution filed their respective notices of appeal on 6 September 2021. On 10 September 2021, the then-President of the Mechanism, Judge Carmel Agius, assigned a bench of the Appeals Chamber to this case, which was composed of Judge Carmel Agius (Presiding), Judge Lee G. Muthoga, Judge Aminatta Lois Runeni N’gum, Judge Yusuf Aksar, and Judge Claudia Hoefer. On 15 September 2021, Judge Agius designated himself as the Pre-Appeal Judge in the case.
On 22 November 2021, all parties confidentially filed their respective appellants’ briefs. Following an extension of time granted on 29 October 2021, the parties confidentially filed their respective respondents’ briefs on 31 January 2022. On 15 February 2022, the parties confidentially filed their respective reply briefs. Following her appointment as President of the Mechanism effective 1 July 2022, Judge Graciela Gatti Santana, assigned herself to replace Judge Agius as the Presiding Judge on 5 July 2022. On 12 July 2022, Judge Gatti Santana designated herself as the Pre-Appeal Judge in the case.
During the course of the pre-appeal proceedings, status conferences were held on 16 December 2021, 1 April 2022, 23 June 2022, 22 September 2022, and 19 January 2023 in order to review any issues in relation to the custody of Mr. Stanišić and Mr. Simatović, including their physical and mental health. The next status conference is scheduled for 17 May 2023. The hearing of the appeals took place on 24 and 25 January 2023 and the public pronouncement of the Appeal Judgement by the Appeals Chamber is scheduled for 31 May 2023.
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