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  1. #1

    Was Jovica Stanisic a CIA spy ?

    Serbian spy's trial lifts cloak on his CIA alliance

    LA Time - March 01, 2009|Greg Miller

    As Milosevic's intelligence chief, Jovica Stanisic is accused of setting up genocidal death squads. But as a valuable source for the CIA, an agency veteran says, he also 'did a whole lot of good.'


    BELGRADE, SERBIA — At night, when the lawns are empty and the lamps along the walking paths are the only source of light, Topcider Park on the outskirts of Belgrade is a perfect meeting place for spies.

    It was here in 1992, as the former Yugoslavia was erupting in ethnic violence, that a wary CIA agent made his way toward the park's gazebo and shook hands with a Serbian intelligence officer.


    War crimes: An article March 1 in Section A about Serbian war crimes defendant Jovica Stanisic reported that prosecutor Dermot Groome said that Stanisic's actions to help the CIA and counter Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic underscored his power. Groome was not commenting on the relationship between Stanisic and the CIA, but on Stanisic's efforts to save lives during the war. Also, the article said that Georgetown is in Virginia. It is a Washington, D.C., neighborhood.

    Jovica Stanisic had a cold gaze and a sinister reputation. He was the intelligence chief for Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and regarded by many as the brains of a regime that gave the world a chilling new term: "ethnic cleansing."

    But the CIA officer, William Lofgren, needed help. The agency was all but blind after Yugoslavia shattered into civil war. Fighting had broken out in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Milosevic was seen as a menace to European security, and the CIA was desperate to get intelligence from inside the turmoil.

    So on that midnight stroll, the two spies carved out a clandestine relationship that remained undisclosed: For eight years, Stanisic was the CIA's main man in Belgrade. During secret meetings in boats and safe houses along the Sava River, he shared details on the inner workings of the Milosevic regime. He provided information on the locations of NATO hostages, aided CIA operatives in their search for grave sites and helped the agency set up a network of secret bases in Bosnia.

    At the same time, Stanisic was setting up death squads for Milosevic that carried out a genocidal campaign, according to prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which was established by the U.N. Security Council in 1993 to try those responsible for serious human rights violations in the Balkan wars.

    Now facing a trial at The Hague that could send him to prison for life, Stanisic has called in a marker with his American allies. In an exceedingly rare move, the CIA has submitted a classified document to the court that lists Stanisic's contributions and attests to his helpful role. The document remains sealed, but its contents were described by sources to The Times.

    The CIA's Lofgren, now retired, said the agency drafted the document to show "that this allegedly evil person did a whole lot of good." Lofgren, however, doesn't claim to disprove the allegations against Stanisic.

    "But setting the indictment aside," he said, "there are things this man did that helped bring hostilities to an end and establish peace in Bosnia."

    Through his attorney, Stanisic, 58, declined to comment, citing the tribunal's ban on communications with the media. But Stanisic has pleaded not guilty, and denies any role in creating the squads or even being aware of the crimes they committed.

    The CIA's effort puts it in the unusual position of serving as something of a character witness for a war crimes defendant. The agency declined to comment on the document. Because its contents are classified, the letter could be considered by the court only in closed session. Court officials said it was unclear whether the document would be of significant use to the Stanisic defense, or would come into play mainly in seeking a more lenient sentence if he is convicted.


    Prosecution dubious of Stanisic claims

    This account is based on dozens of interviews with current and former officials of U.S. and Serbian intelligence agencies, as well as documents obtained or viewed by The Times. Among them are official records of the Serbian intelligence service, and a seven-page account of that bloody period that Stanisic wrote while in prison in The Hague.

    In that memo, Stanisic portrays himself as someone who sought to moderate Milosevic, and who worked extensively with the CIA to contain the crisis.

    "I institutionalized cooperation with the U.S. intelligence community in spite of the notoriously bad relations between our two countries," Stanisic writes. That collaboration, he continues, "contributed significantly to the de-escalation of the conflict."

    The chief prosecutor, Dermot Groome, says that Stanisic's actions to help the CIA and counter Milosevic only underscore the power he had. In his opening argument, Groome said that the "ability to save lives is tragically the very same authority and the very same ability that [Stanisic] used . . . to take lives."

    Belgrade still bears the scars of war. Bombed-out buildings are scattered across the Serbian capital, including a charred concrete structure on Knez Milos Street that used to be the headquarters for Serbia's State Security Service.

    Stanisic used to occupy the corner office on the top floor. In his prime, he was in charge of 2,000 employees. He wore dark suits and sunglasses, a Balkan James Bond. His nickname was "Ledeni," Serbian for "icy."

    Stanisic joined the Yugoslav service in 1975, when the country was still under the communist rule of Josip Broz Tito. He was never regarded as an ideologue or rabid nationalist. But he had a rare aptitude for espionage.

    "Stanisic was not an ordinary intelligence officer," said Dobrica Cosic, a writer and former dissident who was president of Serbia in 1992 and 1993. "He is an intellectual, not a radical policeman. He was educated and skilled, and he knew how to organize that service."

    Because of those skills, Milosevic made Stanisic his top spy, despite long-standing distrust between the two.

    Milosevic had come to power by exploiting Serbian nationalistic fervor and religious animosity. He cast himself as the Serbs' protector, a posture that resonated powerfully with people who still mark the day their ancestors were defeated by Ottoman Turks, who were mostly Muslim, in the 14th century.

    In 1991, as ethnic violence escalated, Milosevic ordered the creation of secret paramilitary units, with names like Red Berets and Scorpions, that would roam the Balkans. They wore unmarked uniforms, were led by thugs and committed some of the worst atrocities of the war.

    As the trial got underway last year, Groome showed photos of Stanisic posing with members of the special units. He played audio of intercepted communications in which Stanisic appears to refer to the units as his "boys."

    At one point, Groome introduced a videotape showing images of Muslim men and boys -- their hands bound with wire -- being led into the woods and shot, one by one, by members of the Scorpions.

    "Jovica Stanisic established these units," said Groome, an American lawyer. And Stanisic made sure "they had everything that they needed, including a license to clear the land of unwanted people, a license to commit murder."

    --

    CIA saw no evidence of war crimes

    Former members of the State Security Service dispute those allegations. "We were doing our jobs, according to the law," said Vlado Dragicevic, who served for years as Stanisic's deputy. "We never committed acts of genocide. On the contrary, we were trying to stop that."

    CIA officers who served in the region said that they had assumed Stanisic was no choirboy, but they never saw evidence that he was involved in war crimes. Instead, they viewed him as a key ally in a situation spinning rapidly out of control.

    From early on, Stanisic was eager to cement his relationship with the CIA. At one of his meetings with Lofgren, he turned over a sheaf of documents, including diagrams of bomb shelters and other structures that Serbian companies had built in Iraq for Saddam Hussein.

    But Stanisic also drew boundaries. He never took payment from the CIA, worked with the agency on operations or took steps that he would have considered a blatant betrayal of his boss.

    Over time, Stanisic sought to move his relationship with the agency out of the shadows. Well after his secret meetings had started, Stanisic persuaded Milosevic to let him open contacts with the CIA as a back channel to the West. The midnight meetings in the park gave way to daylight sessions in Stanisic's office.

    The two spies shared a dark sense of humor. Lofgren liked to wander over to the window, aim his phone at the sky and joke that he was getting GPS coordinates for a missile strike.

    In the letter to The Hague, submitted in 2004, the CIA describes Stanisic's efforts to defuse some of the most explosive events of the Bosnian war.

    In spring 1993, at CIA prodding, Stanisic pressured Ratko Mladic, military commander of the breakaway Serb republic in Bosnia, to briefly stop the shelling of Sarajevo.

    Two years later, Stanisic helped secure the release of 388 North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops who had been taken hostage, stripped of their uniforms and strapped to trees as human shields against NATO bombing runs. In his own written account, Stanisic said he negotiated the release "with the support of agency leadership."

    That same year, Stanisic tried to intervene when French pilots were shot down and taken captive. Mladic "refused to admit that he was holding the pilots," Stanisic wrote. But "my service managed to discover the circumstances and location of their captivity," and shared the information with the CIA and French authorities.

    By then, the Clinton administration was engaged in an all-out diplomatic push to end the war. Stanisic accompanied Milosevic to Dayton, Ohio, for peace talks, then returned to Serbia to carry out key pieces of the accord.

    It was left to Stanisic to get the president of Bosnia's Serb republic, Radovan Karadzic, to sign a document pledging to leave office. And Stanisic helped the CIA establish a network of bases in Bosnia to monitor the cease-fire.

    Doug Smith, the CIA's station chief in Bosnia, recalled meeting with Stanisic and a group of disgusted Bosnian Serb officials in Belgrade. As Stanisic instructed them to cooperate with the CIA, Smith said, the assembled guests "shifted uneasily in their seats."

    Smith began meeting with Stanisic regularly, including once on a boat on the Sava. In typically dramatic fashion, Stanisic arrived late at the docks.

    "He emerged out of the darkness with bodyguards" and spent much of the evening talking about his boss, Smith said. "He intensely disliked Milosevic. He went off on how awful Milosevic was -- dishonest and crooked."

    Asked whether Stanisic was capable of committing war crimes, Smith replied, "I think he would do as little bad as he could."

    At the time, CIA Director John M. Deutch was trying to clean up the agency's image by cracking down on contacts with human rights violators. Years later, the "Deutch rules" were cited as a reason the agency hadn't done better penetrating groups such as Al Qaeda.

    But Deutch had no problems with Stanisic. He invited the Serbian to CIA headquarters in 1996, and an itinerary of the visit indicates that Stanisic got a warm welcome.

    The Serbian spy chief was taken to hear jazz at the Blues Alley club in Georgetown, Va., and driven to Maryland's eastern shore for a bird hunt. Deutch even presented Stanisic with a 1937 Parker shotgun, a classic weapon admired by collectors.

    Deutch, now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, declined to comment.

    Stanisic's expanding ties to the CIA became a source of friction with Milosevic, who worried that his top spy was plotting against him. In 1998, Stanisic was fired.

    The ensuing years were chaotic. After a new campaign of violence against Kosovo, Milosevic was forced from office in 2000, arrested the next year and taken to The Hague, where he went on trial for war crimes and died of a heart attack in 2006. A series of political assassinations occurred amid suspicion that Stanisic was somehow still pulling the strings.

    When Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic -- who had sent Milosevic to The Hague -- was assassinated in 2003, Stanisic was arrested and detained for three months. Then, without explanation, he too was sent to The Hague.

    For the last five years, Stanisic has gone back and forth between Belgrade and the detention center in the Netherlands. His trial was postponed last year to allow him to return to Belgrade for treatment of an acute intestinal disorder that according to court records had caused substantial blood loss. If Stanisic's health stabilizes, his trial is expected to resume this year.

    Stanisic is still seen in Belgrade from time to time, occasionally greeted by well-wishers. But much of his life has crumbled. He is divorced from his wife, estranged from his children and spends alternating weeks in the hospital.

    "The last time I saw him, he was connected to tubes," said Dragicevic, Stanisic's longtime deputy.

    Sometimes Stanisic is in good spirits and talks of prevailing in his case. But most of the time, Dragicevic said, "he looks like a person who has already surrendered."

    "The person who was in charge of so many things, the person who was so very important and well-known, is now a very lonely one."

    --

    greg.miller@latimes.com

    --

    (BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

    Jovica Stanisic

    A chronology of events in the case of the Serbian spy chief

    Born: July 30, 1950

    April 1991: Stanisic and others in Serbian intelligence allegedly oversee establishment of "special units," paramilitary groups later accused of atrocities against Bosnians and Croats.

    1991: Special units allegedly "committed crimes in and attacked and took control of towns and villages" in Serb autonomous regions in Croatia.

    1992: First meeting with CIA; begins clandestine cooperation with agency; turns over blueprints of bunkers built by Serb companies in Iraq.

    March 1992 to 1995: Special units allegedly "committed crimes in and attacked and took control of towns and villages in the municipalities of Bijeljina, Bosanski Samac, Doboj, Sanski Most, Zvornik." Simultaneously, Stanisic cooperates with CIA, providing information on Milosevic regime and conveying communications from the U.S. to his boss.

    May-June 1995: Stanisic negotiates release of 388 U.N. hostages being held by Serb Republic in Bosnia.

    June-July 1995: Stanisic orders Scorpions to Serb-controlled territory near Sarajevo. Scorpions capture Muslim men and boys fleeing Srebrenica. Scorpions take six male refugees into woods and execute them, videotaping the killings.

    November 1995: Attends Dayton peace conference in the United States with Milosevic.

    December 1995: Aids CIA in setting up clandestine bases in Bosnia to monitor cease-fire.

    February 1996: Visits CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. Meets with Director John Deutch, deputy George Tenet.

    July 1996: Stanisic is sent to Pale to get Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to quit his position and withdraw from politics.

    October 1998: Amid suspicions that he has become too close to the CIA, Stanisic is fired by Milosevic.

    March-June 2003: Stanisic is arrested in Belgrade and transferred to The Hague.

    2004: U.S. government submits CIA document to The Hague listing actions taken by Stanisic to help the West and defuse crisis in Balkans.

    May-June 2008: Trial is adjourned; Stanisic is granted provisional release to seek medical treatment in Serbia.

    Sources: International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia case information sheet; CIA sources; account Stanisic wrote in prison in October 2003





    SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2009

    Milosevic's top agent and killer was also top CIA agent
    Death squad leader was top CIA agent

    SERBIA: Gabriel Ronay

    THE LATE President Milosevic's secret police chief and organiser of Serb death squads during the genocidal ethnic cleansing of disintegrating Yugoslavia was the United States' top CIA agent in Belgrade, according to the independent Belgrade Radio B92. The claim that from 1992 until the end of the decade, Jovica Stanisic, head of Serbia's murderous DB Secret Police, was regularly informing his CIA handlers of the thinking in Milosevic's inner circle has shocked the region

    Stanisic is said to have loyally served his two masters for eight years He is facing war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. In the terrifying years of Yugoslavia's internecine wars, he acted as the willing "muscle" behind Milosevic's genocidal campaigns in Croatia, Kosovo and Bosnia, including Srebrenica. According to the charges he faces, Stanisic was "part of a joint criminal enterprise that included former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and other Serbian politicians". Dermot Groome, The Hague's chief prosecutor, has specifically accused him of sending in the Serb Scorpion and Red Beret death squads into the states seeking independence from Belgrade. Stanisic has pleaded not guilty.

    Like in a Cold War spy thriller, Serbia's secret police chief met his CIA handlers in safe houses, parks and boats on the river Sava to betray his master's action plans. He provided, it is claimed, information on the whereabouts of NATO hostages, aided CIA operatives in their search for Muslim mass graves and helped the US set up secret bases in Bosnia to monitor the implementation of the 1995 Dayton peace accord. This has raised awkward questions for Washington. With Stanisic providing chapter and verse of the genocidal slaughter of Croats, Bosnians and Albanians from the early 1990s, should President Clinton have cut a deal with Milosevic at Dayton, Ohio, ending the Bosnian war on such equitable terms for the Serbs? Or, using Stanisic's evidence, should the Americans not have unmasked Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic, the then head of Republika Srpska, as genocidal war criminals and demanded their surrender?

    From his prison cell at The Hague, Stanisic countered the charges facing him with an aide memoir portraying himself as "a person who had sought to moderate Milosevic and had done a great deal to moderate the crisis"

    In an unusual move, the CIA has submitted classified documents to the court that confirm Stanisic's "undercover operative role in helping to bring peace to the region and aiding the agency's work. He helped defuse some of the most explosive actions of the Bosnian war." Thus the judges at The Hague are having to judge a man who allegedly sent the Scorpion death squads to Srebrenica to "deal" with men and boys fleeing the UN-protected Muslim enclave, while working with the CIA trying to end Milosevic's ethnic wars.

    In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, William Lofgren, his original CIA recruiter and handler, now retired, said: "Stanisic provided valuable information from Milosevic's inner circle. But he never took money from the CIA, worked with the agency on operations or took steps that he would have considered a blatant betrayal of his boss."Thus the judges at The Hague are having to judge a man who allegedly sent the Scorpion death squads to Srebrenica to "deal" with men and boys fleeing the UN-protected Muslim enclave, while working with the CIA trying to end Milosevic's ethnic wars.

    The way the CIA apparently viewed their Belgrade "asset" is revealed in an interview with Balkan Insight, a little known south-east European publication.The emerging picture is a quaint reflection from a hall of mirrors. Greg Miller of the Los Angeles Times, writing about the links between the CIA and the Serb secret police chief, is quoted as saying: "As I said in the LAT story, the CIA do not see Stanisic as a choirboy. When you talk to people who work in espionage, this is often the case."Because of the nature of that job, of that assignment, they are working with people who do not have unblemished records, it would be difficult for them to be effective if they only worked with people who had unblemished records.

    "People in Belgrade who have been following the career of Jovica Stanisic would say that this was a guy who was an expert in his field; he was a highly-trained and highly-effective spy. His motivation may have been that he wanted to know what the United States was up to. "He did not believe that Milosevic was taking the country in the right direction - so he wanted to influence events. He saw himself as an important guy who could pull strings behind the scenes to make things happen in Belgrade."

    Stanisic apparently did so on his own terms, while trying to remain a loyal Serb. He did not succeed.

    Now he is having to account for his actions as Milosevic's loyal lieutenant at The Hague.

  2. #2

    Stanisic Case 'A Classic Espionage Tale'

    03 March 2009 - by Branka Trivic
    Balkaninsight.com

    Journalist Greg Miller of the Los Angeles Times speaks to Balkan Insight about the "classic espionage tale" of how the trusted chief of Slobodan Milosevic's intelligence service, Jovica Stanisic, was in fact working with the CIA in the 1990s.

    Miller's story in the LA Times made headlines in Serbia and the Balkans. He got a lead into the story from intelligence sources in Washington, who told him that the CIA submitted confidential documents in Stanisic's war crimes trial in The Hague listing Stanisic's contributions and attesting to his "helpful role"

    Miller says that the CIA got involved not because they want the charges against Stanisic dropped, but because they "are interested in having a fuller account of Stanisic's role presented, because they regard the case against him at ICTY not necessarily as inaccurate but as incomplete."

    "As I said in the story, they did not see Stanisic as a choirboy," Miller told Balkan Insight.

    "When you talk to people who work in espionage, this is often the case. Because of the nature of that job, of that assignment, they are working with people who don't have unblemished records, it would be difficult for them to be effective if they only worked with people who had unblemished records."

    "People in Belgrade who have been following the career of Jovica Stanisic would say that this was a guy who was an expert in his field; he was a highly trained and highly effective spy," Miller said. "I think his motivation may have been that he wanted to know what the United States was up to, he didn't believe that Milosevic was taking the country in the right direction -- so he wanted to influence events. I think he saw himself as an important guy who could pull strings behind the scenes to make things happen in Belgrade."

    Miller said that "in 1993, at CIA prodding", Stanisic "pressured Ratko Mladic to briefly stop the shelling of Sarajevo. He later went on to work with the CIA trying to locate and help rescue NATO troops in Bosnia who had been taken hostage in 1995. He was trying to influence the people inside the Milosevic regime. He became something of a conduit to the United States, which obviously did not have good relationships with the government in Belgrade. At times they would make their case to Stanisic, they would issue warnings to him, they would say: if your government continued to do this, then this is how we are going to respond. And he would work inside the government in Belgrade to try to make sure that it didn't happen. He became, as somebody put it to me, a sort of an action agent -- somebody who was willing to listen to the warnings of the West and work inside his own government to try to influence the outcome, so that the crisis could be contained."

    Miller said Stanisic "was providing information about what was happening inside the government there at the time when the United States was desperate for that information" but had also "established certain boundaries."

    "He was never what you would call a CIA asset, he was never a paid agent of the CIA He never accepted assignments from the CIA. He was involved in sharing information with the Agency, but he kept it on his terms. I think it's safe to say that he was not in agreement with Milosevic and that there was always conflict between these two people, but at the same time he was a loyal Serb. I don't think he wanted ever to betray his country or his government."

    His case was very complicated, and everything was in shades of gray, Miller added.
    "That's sort of a classic tale of espionage."

    Miller said retired CIA operatives had on occasion visited Stanisic in hospital in The Hague "but it's not like ... they are communicating with him every day or even every week", but rather more of a relationship with "somebody from their past that they keep in touch with."

    "He was never completely an agent for them, he was never a paid asset, so the idea that they (CIA) would somehow tried to give him a new identity and whisked him to safety may not have occurred to them," Miller said. "And I don't know whether they anticipated that he was going to find himself in this much trouble. I mean it was five years after he was fired by Milosevic before he was finally indicted and sent to the Hague, so I am not sure that they thought that this would ever happen. I don't know that Jovica Stanisic thought that this was going to happen to him"

  3. #3

    Trial of Chief of Milosevic’s Secret Police Begins

    New York Times

    By MARLISE SIMONS
    Published: April 30, 2008

    Slobodan Milosevic is dead, but a new trial touching the heart of his regime has begun in The Hague.

    The prosecution at the United Nations war crimes tribunal of Jovica Stanisic, the former chief of Mr. Milosevic’s secret police and a man once considered the second most powerful official in Serbia, started on Monday.

    During Serbia’s wars against Croatia and Bosnia in the 1990s, Mr. Stanisic was believed to be a key strategist of campaigns, often fought through covert police actions, that terrorized and killed many civilians.

    Also on trial is Franko Simatovic, the chief of the secret police’s special operations unit, which was in charge of training covert groups and directing them in the field. Prosecutors say the two men acted on direct orders from Mr. Milosevic, Serbia’s president, who trusted his secret police more than his military during the wars.

    The defendants were arrested in 2003. Each faces five counts of murder, persecution, forced deportations and inhuman acts during the Balkan wars. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

    Prosecutors have said that in the spring of 1991, Mr. Stanisic created a large covert fighting force that was like a parallel army. They say that under the oversight of the Serbian Ministry of Interior, fighters were trained at more than two dozen camps, with many posing as volunteers. They fought in Bosnia and Croatia, prosecutors said, often acting as hit men who moved ahead of military columns to terrorize, expel and kill thousands of non-Serb civilians from lands that the Milosevic regime intended to be for Serbs only.

    The operations of the secret police in Croatia and Bosnia have not been fully exposed in court and have been little debated in Serbia. The covert units were designed to give the Serbian government and its military deniability for some of the most brutal campaigns against civilians.

    At the tribunal, several other trials involving high-level officials are under way or awaited. But lawyers and human rights groups are following the case against the two secret police chiefs with special interest because of their close ties to Mr. Milosevic. His trial ended inconclusively when he died in his cell in 2006.

    There are many links between the Milosevic trial and the charges against his secret police officials, and judges have decided that some of the secret testimony and documents from the Milosevic proceedings, which had remained confidential, can now be used and disclosed at this trial.

    Mr. Simatovic, 58, was in court on Tuesday as prosecutors concluded their long opening statement. But Mr. Stanisic, 57, has not appeared at any recent hearings, because he has been diagnosed with kidney problems and severe depression. After postponing the trial four times because of his illness and medical treatment, judges ordered a video link installed in prison for Mr. Stanisic. But prison officials said he had refused to watch the proceedings.

    The presiding judge, Patrick Robinson, said the trial could start, despite a doctor’s warning that the case “could harm the health of the accused.” He said Mr. Stanisic’s condition would be closely monitored.

    Soon after the long-awaited trial began, however, new delays loomed. Mr. Stanisic’s lawyer, Geert-Jan Knoops, said that he wanted to resign from the case; he said that requiring his client to watch the proceedings via video from a cellblock was unique in international law.

    Prosecutors said they would present evidence that a number of violent paramilitary groups like Arkan’s Tigers, the Scorpions, Frenki’s men and others that rampaged through towns and villages, expelling and killing non-Serbs — and often looting cars, cattle and valuables — were not rogue bands of criminals or volunteers, but well-trained, well-equipped and well-paid fighters connected with the secret police.

    “Milosevic was regularly informed of all activities through Stanisic and Simatovic,” the lead prosecutor, Dermot Groome, said on Tuesday in his opening statement.

    The prosecution is expected to call 90 witnesses, the first of whom began to testify Tuesday. The witness appeared anonymously, his voice scrambled because he said he feared for his safety.

  4. #4

    Did Stanisic and Milosevic Trust Once Another?

    SENSE Agency | News

    THE HAGUE | 10.11.2011.

    Contradicting the prosecutor’s claims about the trust between the former secret service chief and the Serbian president, witness Dragicevic, who was Stanisic’s adviser at the time, contended they never trusted each other. This culminated in their final rift in 1998 over the Kosovo crisis, the witness said. Milosevic decided to use force and Stanisic favored a peaceful solution, the witness explained

    In the last 20 minutes of his cross-examination of former high-ranking Serbian State Security Service official Vlado Dragicevic, the prosecutor contested Dragicevic’s claim that Jovica Stanisic advocated a peaceful solution of the Kosovo problem in the late 1990s. The topic is not relevant for the indictment but has bearing on the credibility of the witness who didn’t tell truth in this case, in the opinion of the prosecutor. Former Serbian secret service chief and his close associate Franko Simatovic are charged with crimes against non-Serbs in Croatia and BH.

    The prosecutor brought up a number of minutes from the meetings of the Joint Command of the Army and Police for Kosovo from 1998, which show that Stanisic was present when the Joint Command discussed ‘killing and wiping out KLA terrorists’. The witness replied that it was a legitimate fight against terrorism and not war, adding that Stanisic favored a peaceful solution through negotiations. Dragicevic was called by the defense of the former chief of the Serbian State Security Service; he was first Stanisic’s advisor and then his assistant.

    In the re-examination Franko Simatovic’s defense counsel tried to contest the prosecutor’s allegation that Stanisic and the Serbian State Security Service maintained close relations with Slobodan Milosevic. Simatovic’s defense counsel put it to the witness that as early as in 1991 the Serbian Public Security Department was put in charge of Milosevic’s security, instead of the Serbian State Security Service. The witness confirmed the defense counsel’s claim that this was a sign of mutual distrust.

    In the re-examination by Stanisic’s defense, Dragicevic repeated that Milosevic didn’t trust the secret service chief but was ‘intelligent enough’ to keep the consummate professional at that post until 1998. The witness claimed that Milosevic was suspicious of Stanisic because of the contacts between the Serbian State Security Service leadership with the CIA agents. In the end, Milosevic and Stanisic fell out because they disagreed on how the Kosovo issue should be dealt with, the witness recounted. According to Dragicevic, Milosevic decided to use force and Stanisic advocated a peaceful solution. At the beginning of the hearing, the prosecution contested this claim made by Dragicevic.

    The defense counsel put it to the witness that Stanisic was on better terms with the late Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic than with Milosevic. The witness agreed, stressing that on several occasions he saw Djindjic and Stanisic meet. After the assassination of prime minister Djindjic in March 2003, Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic were arrested in a sweeping operation, and soon afterwards they were transferred to the Tribunal in The Hague.

    Stanisic’s defense is expected to go on with its case next week, but it might be disrupted because the two next witnesses have refused to come to The Hague voluntarily. One of the witnesses is a Dutchman who served in UNPROFOR in BH, Marcus Helgers; the Trial Chamber has issued him a subpoena. The identity of the second witness remains undisclosed. Once these two witnesses are heard, if ever, the defense of Franko Simatovic will open its case. At one point during Simatovic’s case, Stanisic’s defense lawyers will call two additional witnesses: an expert witness who will testify about the authenticity of Mladic’s diaries and a ‘distinguished witness from England’, as it was announced today.

  5. #5

    Jovica Stanisic was 'Sidelined' in the Secret Service

    Sense Tribunal - THE HAGUE | 11.10.2011.

    The indictment alleges that even before his formal appointment as the head of the Serbian State Security Service in December 1991 Stanisic was already the de facto No. 1 man there. The defense is now trying to prove that Stanisic was in fact ‘sidelined’ at the time. According to the defense, in that period Stanisic didn’t even exercise the powers he had as the assistant chief for counter-intelligence

    Former chief of the Belgrade center of the Serbian State Security Service (DB) Milorad Lekovic testified today via video link from Belgrade as Stanisic’s defense witness. Lekovic tried to play down the importance of his former colleague in the service, Jovica Stanisic, in 1991 when the war had already spread throughout Croatia. Lekovic had given a statement to the defense which was admitted into evidence. The plan was for Lekovic to merely clarify some parts of the statement.

    However, instead of precise and short answers one would expect from a seasoned intelligence officer, Lekovic was too expansive and unfocused in his evidence. Lekovic’s responses had little or no connection at all with the question he was asked. The presiding judge repeatedly cautioned Lekovic to stick to the point. The defense counsel was visibly at the end of his tether at times.

    The witness was appointed the chief of the Belgrade security service, or UDBA as the witness called it several times, in 1988. Jovica Stanisic was the assistant chief for counter-intelligence at the time. As the witness said, it was the time of constant turmoil and personal confrontations in the service. As a consequence, Stanisic fell from grace with his chief, Zoran Janackovic. As Lekovic recounted, the police minister ordered on 2 April 1991 that an internal commission be set up in the service; it was supposed to find out who had leaked classified information to the press. Lekovic contends that Janackovic wanted the commission to target Jovica Stanisic.

    The results of the commission’s work were not made public at the hearing today. The witness did say something that supported the defense’s case: Lekovic claimed that Jovica Stanisic was ‘sidelined’ while the commission was at work, from April to October 1991. He didn’t even perform his regular day-to-day tasks. According to the witness, Stanisic’s was ‘cut off and blocked’ to such an extent in his job that he ‘didn’t even have to go to work’. This was Janackovic’s intention, the witness noted: Janackovic proposed that Stanisic be put on’ leave’ for several months.

    Such claims directly contradict the indictment which alleges that Jovica Stanisic was the de facto head of the Service even before December 1991 when he was formally appointed to that post. The indictment against Stanisic and his right-hand man Franko Simatovic also alleges that by April 1991 they assisted in the setting up of a training center for special units in Golubic near Knin. The people who trained the Serb paramilitary and police units were recruited there. Those units, according to the indictment, were under the control of the accused and took part in a number of crimes against non-Serb civilians in Croatia and BH. In Croatia, the first crimes were committed in April 1991 and went on until the end of that year. This is the time, as the witness claimed, when Stanisic was ‘sidelines’ in the Service.

    Prosecutor Marcus will put the witness’s claims to the test tomorrow in the cross-examination.

 

 

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