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UN tribunal grants provisional release to two former senior Serbian officials

27 June 2008 – The United Nations war crimes tribunal set up in the wake of the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s has ordered the temporary provisional release of two former high-level officials with the Serbian secret service facing trial on charges that include murder, persecution and illegal deportations.

Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović were granted provisional release by the trial chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 26 May, but the decision had been stayed until yesterday after the prosecution appealed the initial ruling.

The ICTY appeals chamber has already ordered that the trial of the two men be adjourned for at least three months because of the ill-health of Mr. Stanišić and that his health must be re-assessed before the trial can resume.

Mr. Stanišić and Mr. Simatović, both high-levels with the Serbian secret service, are accused of having directed, organized, equipped, trained, armed and financed secret units of the Serbian State Security which are alleged to have murdered, persecuted and deported Croats, Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serb civilians from Bosnia and Herzegovina and from Croatia between 1991 and 1995.

Mr. Stanišić was also a close aide to the former Yugoslav and Serbian leader Slobodan Milosević.

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