Judges at the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals decided on Thursday to allow the heads of what was the Serbian secret police to remain at home pending trial.
Former Serbian State Security Service (RDB) chiefs Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic aka Frenki were told they could remain on leave from the tribunal detention unit until the beginning of May this year.
Stanisic was released on sick leave in the summer of 2017, right after the start of his trial for war crimes that he allegedly committed in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during the wars of the 1990s.
Simatovic was released in September last year, according to tribunal documents which the Beta news agency said it had access to. Those documents show that he was released for medical treatment despite opposition from prosecutors.
Both men gave up their right to attend the hearings in their trial leaving, requesting to be released temporarily to the moment that their defence is due to present their cases.
RDB chief Stanisic (68) and his top operations officer Simatovic (68) have been indicted for the persecution, killing, deportation and forcible removal of Croats and Muslims in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both were arrested and extradited to the Hague tribunal by the Serbian authorities in the spring of 2003, right after the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.
They were both acquitted on five counts of the indictment in May 2013 but an appeals chamber annulled that ruling and ordered a re-trial which started in June 2017. This is also the final trial of Serbian officials for crimes committed in Croatia and Bosnia. The Beta news agency said that no Serbian official has been sentenced for those crimes by the tribunal.