CIA goes to bat for accused Serbian war criminal
Facing a trial at The Hague that could send him to prison for life, former Serbian intelligence chief Jovica Stanisic has called in a favor from his CIA allies. In an exceedingly rare move, the CIA has submitted a classified document to the court that lists Stanisic's collaboration with the US spy agency's intelligence activities in the ex-Yugoslavia. Stanisic's former CIA handler William Lofgren, now retired, said the agency drafted the document to show "that this allegedly evil person did a whole lot of good." Lofgren doesn't claim to disprove the charges against Stanisic. "But setting the indictment aside, there are things this man did that helped bring hostilities to an end and establish peace in Bosnia."
In his case, Stanisic is attempting to portray himself as as someone who sought to moderate Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, and who worked closely 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 alleges, "contributed significantly to the de-escalation of the conflict." (LAT, March 1)
Stanisic was the head of Serbia's State Security Service (Drzavna bedzbednost or "DB") from 1991 to 1998. He is accused of having "planned, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted" the persecution of Croats and Muslims in both Bosnia and Croatia's autonomous region of Krajina. The charges include murder, and forcible transfer and deportation of civilians. Under Stanisic's direction, the DB is believed to have aided rebel Serb forces in Bosnia and the Krajina, and formed special units that actively participated in war crimes there.
Stanisic was arrested in March 2003 by the Serbian authorities and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in June, where he pleaded not guilty. His trial has been repeatedly postponed, and he has been granted periods of provisional release, due to health problems including depression. His case has been joined with that of the DB's former Bosnia pointman Franko Simatovic. (TrialWatch)