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UN Court Starts Retrial For Two Serbian War Crimes Suspects

Jovica Stanisic (left) and Franko Simatovic (far right) appear in court for their retrial at the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague on June 13.

The retrial of two former Serbian state security officials accused of crimes committed during the 1990s Balkan wars has begun at a United Nations court in The Hague.

Prosecutor Douglas Stringer told the three-judge panel at the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals on June 13 that Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic played key roles in facilitating atrocities by Serb paramilitaries in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Stringer said Stanisic, 66, and his deputy Simatovic, 67, "made these crimes happen through their direction and unflagging support to the Serb forces used to commit them."

The two were acquitted in 2013 of war crimes by judges who ruled that there was insufficient evidence linking them to the crimes.

But appeal judges quashed that verdict in 2015, saying several legal errors had been made in the trial.

Stanisic and Simatovic were ordered to be retried on four counts of crimes against humanity and one count of war crimes committed by Serbian death squads in Bosnia and Croatia after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

Based on reporting by AP