Quarter of a Century of non-prosecution of the Mass Murders in Bosnia
Originally published by the Sarajevo Times on January 27, 2023
Jovica Stanisic (left) and Franko Simatovic (right) in court in June 2017. Photo: EPA/Michael Kooren/Reuters Pool.
Sarajevo - At the end of September 1995, just seven days before his 22nd birthday, Haris Talic was among 64 Bosniaks and Croats who were captured by members of paramilitary formations from Serbia and local Serbs in Sanski Most and taken to place Sasina, where they were liquidated. No one was prosecuted for this mass crime, nor were Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic convicted, whose verdict will be appealed in the next two days – January 24th and 25th – before the Appeals Chamber of the International Mechanism for Criminal Courts (IMCC).
Alma Talic lived with her husband Haris and their two children in the settlement Poljak, after which they settled in the settlement Sehovci with the Bosniak population that remained in Sanski Most in 1995.
According to her, in September 1995, “Arkanovci” appeared in Sehovci, who differed from the others in their specific hairstyles, and there were also “local Serbs” with them, and she saw them passing down the road in this settlement.
During that period, Alma says, her husband was taken away in a bus with the others. While she was putting the children to sleep, as she recalled for the Balkan Research Network of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH), a crowd formed on the street and there were rumors that they were “taking away people”.
A few days after her husband was taken away, Alma left Sanski Most with her then three-year-old daughter and nine-month-old son and moved to Zenica, where she tried to find out about her husband’s fate through the Red Cross by contacting all relevant institutions, until in 1996 a grave was discovered in Sasina.
Former officials of the Serbian State Security Service (SDB) Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic were accused of the murders in Sasina, but they were acquitted of this crime by the verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). That judgment was later revoked, but Stanisic and Simatovic were again exonerated from responsibility for the crime in Sasina by the judgment of the International Mechanism for Criminal Courts (IMCS) from June 2021.
The presentation of appeals against the verdict of Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, who were sentenced to 12 years in prison each for crimes committed in BiH, will be held on January 24th and 25th this year before the Appeals Council of the International Mechanism for Criminal Courts.
The Hague Prosecutor’s Office charged Zeljko Raznatovic, known as Arkan, with the crimes committed in Trnova and Sasina, and the indictment mentioned murders, cruel treatment, rape committed in September 1995 by members of the paramilitary group known as the “Serbian Volunteer Guard”, i.e. “Arkan’s Tigers”, but his trial never started and the proceedings against him were suspended after he was killed in Belgrade.
During the renewed proceedings in the IMCC, in the summer of 2021, Stanisic and Simatovic were sentenced to 12 years in prison each only for their role in the crimes committed by the special unit of the SDB of Serbia in Bosanski Samac, but they were acquitted of the crimes committed in Croatia. as well as in Bijeljina, Zvornik, Doboj and Sanski Most, i.e. for one of the last mass murders in Sasina and Trnova.
The members of the families of the citizens of Sanski Mostkilled in September 1995 do not hide their dissatisfaction that for more than a quarter of a century – none of the responsible or perpetrators have been prosecuted for these crimes.
© 2023 Sarajevo Times. All Rights Reserved.