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)

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  1. First Stanisic, then Bin Laden
    Isn’t this fantastic – the head of Serbian intelligence during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia was a CIA agent – it can’t get better than that! He certainly helped turn the war against his formal boss – Milosevic – to please his real bosses at the US administration. Now it is quite clear how CIA knew where to take aerial pictures of mass graves around Srebrenica – the pictures that turned the tide of global public opinion finally against Serbia allowing Clinton and NATO to bomb Serbian positions in Bosnia. Stanisic – who first sent paramilitaries in to do the mass killings and instructed them to film themselves so they can incriminate themselves for the future, and then he gave the coordinates to the CIA. The most horrible massacre in Europe since the WWII was simply a publicity stunt, orchestrated by the US spy agency. Stanisic is now held responsible for the first part of that project, and CIA is asking the court to consider his service to the second part…
    Wait till Osama Bin Laden gets his day in court – he too may submit as mitigating fact his long and loyal service to the CIA in Afghanistan during the fight against Soviets!!!

    1. Sarcasm?
      Ivo, surely you are not implying the Srebrenica massacre was carried out on behalf of the CIA in order for the US have an excuse to intervene? That’s about the wackiest thing I’ve ever heard…

      1. What else?
        I would not be surprised a theory like that to start going around among Serbs and other post-Yugoslavs. It is not completely out of character for the CIA to pull something like that. Although, I am absolutely certain there is no paper-trail and nobody will ever be able to prove whether the wackiest thing you’ve ever heard is true or not. It certainly can make a good movie with Harrison Ford in the role of the Stanisic’s handler.