Milosevic-Era Serb Intelligence Chief “Was CIA”
Belgrade | 02 March 2009 |
The trusted chief of Slobodan Milosevic’s intelligence service, Jovica Stanisic, was in fact working with the CIA for eight years, an L.A. Times report says citing confidential documents allegedly submitted for consideration in Stanisic’s war crimes trial in The Hague.
Source: LA Times, B92
The Los Angeles Times wrote on Sunday that Jovica Stanisic, “accused of setting up genocidal death squads”, was “a valuable source for the CIA. An agency veteran even says that he also ‘did a whole lot of good’.”
Facing a war crimes trial at the Hague Tribunal, Stanisic has called in a favour with his American allies, the paper says
” In an exceedingly rare move, the CIA has submitted a classified document to the court that lists Stanisic’s contributions and attests to his helpful role.”
The newspaper says that the document remains sealed, but that its contents were described by sources to its reporter.The report claims that Stanisic was recruited by CIA in Belgrade in 1992, by the now-retired William Lofgren.
“The agency was all but blind after Yugoslavia shattered into civil war. Fighting had broken out in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Milosevic was seen as a menace to European security, and the CIA was desperate to get intelligence from inside the turmoil,” says the daily.
“For eight years, Stanisic was the CIA’s main man in Belgrade. During secret meetings in boats and safe houses along the Sava River, he shared details on the inner workings of the Milosevic regime. He provided information on the locations of NATO hostages, aided CIA operatives in their search for grave sites and helped the agency set up a network of secret bases in Bosnia.”
At the same time, the reports said, Stanisic was “setting up death squads for Milosevic that carried out a genocidal campaign” according to Hague prosecutors.
Lofgren said the agency drafted the document to show “that this allegedly evil person did a whole lot of good”, but he did not claim to disprove the allegations against Stanisic.
The 58-year-old former head of the Serbian secret service, who pleaded not guilty, remained silent, “citing the tribunal’s ban on communications with the media”.
“The CIA’s effort puts it in the unusual position of serving as something of a character witness for a war crimes defendant,” writes the LA Times.
“The agency declined to comment on the document. Because its contents are classified, the letter could be considered by the court only in closed session. Court officials said it was unclear whether the document would be of significant use to the Stanisic’s defense, or would come into play mainly in seeking a more lenient sentence if he is convicted.”
While in prison in The Hague, Stanisic wrote a seven page account of the 1990s where he “portrays himself as someone who sought to moderate Milosevic, and who worked extensively 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 continues, “contributed significantly to the de-escalation of the conflict.”
But the chief prosecutor, Dermot Groome, says that Stanisic’s actions to help the CIA and act as a counterweight to Milosevic only underscore the power he had.
According to the newspaper, “Stanisic drew boundaries”, which included “never taking payment from the CIA”.
His Hague trial was postponed last year “to allow him to return to Belgrade for treatment of an acute intestinal disorder that according to court records had caused substantial blood loss. If Stanisic’s health stabilizes, his trial is expected to resume this year”, says the article.
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