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Croatian PM Protests Temporary Release of Serbian War Criminal

Andrej Plenkovic told the president of the UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Graciela Gatti Santana on Monday that the Croatian authorities are unhappy with the Hague-based court’s temporary release of Serbian wartime state security official Franko Simatovic, who was convicted of wartime crimes under a final verdict in May this year.

“We expressed our dissatisfaction with the decision on the early release of Franko Simatovic,” Plenkovic wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Plenkovic said that he also spoke to Santana on Monday “about the status of Croatian citizens who are serving sentences”.

Simatovic was temporarily released on health grounds at the end of August. The UN court’s decision on August 29 stipulated that his release remain confidential until he is placed in a health facility or at the address where he will stay in Serbia.

“There are convincing humanitarian reasons that require the early release of Simatovic, under appropriate conditions,” the court’s decision said.

Serbian newspaper Politika reported that Simatovic was transferred from The Hague to Belgrade on August 31, citing the law firm that represented him during the trial.

He has so far served eight-and-a-half years of his 15-year sentence, and does not yet meet the conditions for early release because he has not served two-thirds of the sentence.

Simatovic was convicted of bearing responsibility for crimes committed by Serbian fighting units during the 1990s wars in Bosnia and Croatia as part of a ‘joint criminal enterprise’ to force out non-Serbs, alongside the head of the Serbian state security service, Jovica Stanisic.

The verdict, the last to be handed down by the UN court in Yugoslav war crimes cases, said the two men were guilty of bearing responsibility for murders, deportation, inhumane acts and persecution.

Both men were powerful and widely-feared figures in the security apparatus of Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in the 1990s.

Their trial began in 2003 and lasted for two decades – the longest-running case from the Yugoslav wars.

Source : BalkanInsight