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UN court orders retrial of Serbian secret police chiefs

The UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has ordered the retrial of two Serbian security officials. The men had been acquitted of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the court in 2013.

Judges of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia's (ICTY) appeals chamber on Tuesday ordered the retrial of two Serbian secret police officials after they were acquitted of war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2013.

According to the judgment, the appeals judges said that Jovica Stanisic, the ex-chief of Serbia's state security service (DB), and his deputy Franko Simatovic, were mistakenly acquitted of five charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the early 1990s amid the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

"The appeals chamber orders that Stanisic and Simatovic be retried on all counts of the indictment," said Judge Fausto Pocar in the judgment.

"The appeals chamber…finds that the trial chamber erred in law in requiring that the acts of the aider or abettor be specifically directed to assist the commission of a crime," Pocar added.

Prosecutors charged the two men with organizing, financing and supplying Serbian paramilitary groups, including the Scorpions and the Tigers, known for committing some of the worst atrocities during the Yugoslav wars.

While Stanisic and Simatovic ordered the units to enter Croatia and Bosnia, ICTY judges in 2013 said that they could not be held criminally responsible for the killings carried out by the groups - since there was insufficient evidence that the former security officials "specifically directed" the crimes.

The appeals chamber did not specify when the retrial would begin.

The ICTY was originally formed in 1993 to try suspected war criminals of conflicts spurred by the break of Yugoslavia. Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosovic was tried by the UN war crimes tribunal, although he died in detention in 2006 prior to a verdict.

More than 100,000 people were killed in the Yugoslav wars that prompted the creation of six successor states, plus Kosovo.

ls/msh (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)