The initial appearance of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović was held today at The Hague branch of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT). Both accused entered a plea of not guilty before Pre-Trial Judge Burton Hall. This is the first retrial to be held before the Mechanism since its establishment.

Stanišić, formerly Deputy Chief and Chief of the State Security Service (SDB) of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia, and Simatović, formerly Deputy Chief of the Second Administration of the Serbian SDB and special advisor in the SDB, were charged before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with having directed, organised, equipped, trained, armed and financed units of the SDB which murdered, persecuted, deported and forcibly transferred non-Serb civilians from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Croatia between 1991 and 1995.

On 30 May 2013, an ICTY Trial Chamber found that Stanišić and Simatović could not be held criminally responsible for these crimes and acquitted both accused of all charges. Following the appeals proceedings, on 15 December 2015, the ICTY Appeals Chamber quashed the ICTY Trial Chamber’s decision and ordered a retrial and the immediate detention of the accused.

The Mechanism was established by the UN Security Council to carry out a number of essential functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the ICTY. According to Article 1(4) of the Transitional Arrangements adopted by the Security Council, “if a retrial is ordered on or after the commencement date of the respective branch of the Mechanism, the Mechanism shall have competence over such person in accordance with Article 1 of its Statute.”

The Mechanism Trial Chamber in this case is composed of Judge Burton Hall (Presiding) of the Bahamas, Judge Seon Ki Park of the Republic of South Korea and Judge Solomy Balungi Bossa of Uganda. The start of trial will be ordered in due course by the Trial Chamber.