Dossier: “Serbian Volunteer Guard”
The crimes committed by the Serbian Volunteer Guard (SDG/the Guard), a group formed by Željko Ražnatović (Arkan), and its links with the Serbian police, military and political establishment, were an integral part of the indictments of the ICTY’s Office of the Prosecutor against Slobodan Milošević, Goran Hadžić, Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović.
The trials of Milošević and Hadžić were terminated because they had died before the judgments were passed, but witness statements and evidence presented during the trials contain a wealth of materials about the activities of the SDG. In addition, the ICTY’s Office of the Prosecutor filed an indictment against SDG commander Željko Ražnatović aka Arkan for crimes committed in the area of Sanski Most. In the trial judgment following the retrial of Stanišić and Simatović, the Trial Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) established that the SDG was involved in murders, persecution and forced displacement in the area of the so-called Serbian Autonomous Region of Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem (SAO SBZS) in 1991 and 1992, in Bijeljina and Zvornik in 1992, and in Sanski Most in 1995. Nevertheless, not a single member of the SDG has been prosecuted for these crimes to date.
The Dossier presents facts about the SDG from its establishment in 1990 to its official disbanding in 1996. The first part of the Dossier deals with the origin of the SDG, its structure, and the main characteristics of its operation and cooperation with other units. Further in the Dossier, evidence is presented of the SDG’s involvement in crimes committed in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). After looking at the role of the SDG in sending forcibly mobilized refugees to the front line and lootings, the disbanding of the Guard is discussed. The annexes contain a list of 189 members of the SDG that the HLC has managed to identify in its research.
The SDG had been present in Croatia in the area of eastern Slavonia and Baranja from June 1991. In the spring of 1992, it was active in eastern Bosnia and the wider Sarajevo area. In late January 1993, the SDG was present in northern Dalmatia and Lika. The following year, 1994, parts of the Guard returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina to take part in “Operation Pauk” [Spider] in Cazin Krajina, where they remained until August 1995, while a number of members of the SDG took part in the Trnovo/ Treskavica operation in June and July 1995. In autumn 1995, the SDG was present in the areas of Sanski Most, Ključ and Prijedor.
The Dossier is based on publicly available military and police documents that have been admitted as evidence before the ICTY, the facts established in judgments, a large number of witness statements and testimonies before the ICTY, including the testimonies of former members of the SDG, as well as media reports and witness statements gathered by HLC researchers.