|Born||1 April 1950|
Belgrade, Serbia, Yugoslavia
|Allegiance|| SFR Yugoslavia|
|Years of service||1978–2001|
|Unit||Special Operations Unit (1991–98)|
Franko "Frenki" Simatović (Serbian Cyrillic: Франко "Френки" Симатовић; born 1 April 1950) is a Serbian former intelligence officer and commander of the elite special forces police unit Special Operations Unit (JSO) from 1991–98.
Simatović is, along with former head of the State Security Service (SDB) Jovica Stanišić being prosecuted for war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period from 1991-95, before the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He was initially acquitted on 30 May 2013 by the ICTY for his role in the wars but the verdict was later overturned on 15 December 2015 after successful appeal by the prosecutors (ICTY Appeals Chamber). The retrial before the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) commenced on 13 June 2017.
Simatović was born in Belgrade into a Croatian family. His father Pera Simatović was born in Dubrovnik, his mother Neda (née Winter) in Bjelovar. Pera Simatović was a Yugoslav Partisan who after the war became high-ranking officer in the Yugoslav Army, and was one of the founder of Partizan. Neda belonged to the influential family Winter in Bjelovar, and was the daughter of Franko Winter (whom Simatović is named after), the founder of a law firm in Bjelovar. The family has lived in Belgrade since after World War II.
Franko Simatović studied at the Higher Police School and University of Belgrade Faculty of Political Sciences. His mentor, colleague and personal friend was Jovica Stanišić. Both were recruited into the State Security Administration (UDBA) immediately after studies, where they quickly rose in rank. During Slobodan Milošević's rise to power, Simatović was the head of the department dealing with affairs of American agencies in Yugoslavia. Simatović kept an office at Stanišić's command center in the village of Magarcevac, Croatia and both men had assumed command of regional forces in western Bosnia. They also led the ‘Pauk’ (‘Spider’) operation in Cazinska Krajina, Bosnia between 1994 and 1995.
- Indictment and trial (2003–13)
After the assassination of Zoran Đinđić, Stanišić was arrested on 13 March 2003 during the Operation Sabre by the Serbian Police and handed over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 30 May 2003. The original indictment against him and Jovica Stanišić was created in May 2003, and was later amended several times. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Simatović was accused of committing atrocities against non-Serbs during the Yugoslav wars including persecution and murder. As part of Milan Martić's trial at the ICTY, Simatović was found to be part of a "joint criminal enterprise which aimed to create a Greater Serbia including parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina."
- Acquittal and appeal (2013–17)
Simatović and Stanišić were acquitted of all charges on 30 May 2013.
However, his acquittal as well as that of Jovica Stanišić, had been overturned on 15 December 2015 by the appeals chamber, which vacated the initial verdict deemed faulty as it was based on an insistence that the men could only be guilty if they "specifically directed" the crimes. On 22 December 2015, Simatović and Stanišić were granted temporary release. Back in Serbia, the two had to report to a local police station in Belgrade every day and surrender their passports to the Ministry of Justice of Serbia. He and Stanišić were on provisional release from December 2015 to June 2017.
- MICT retrial (2017–present)
A new trial began on 13 June 2017, and is being handled by the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), which took over the ICTY's remaining cases as it closes in December 2017. In December 2017, he was granted a provisional release until 19 January 2018. In August 2018, only his co-defendant Stanišić was reported to still be on provisional release and he did not immediately file a motion for an extension of his provision release after his return to custody. Any provisional release granted to Simatović has also come with stricter conditions as well and has not faced objection from the prosecution.
- "Oslobođeni Stanišić i Simatović". B92. 30 May 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Станишић и Симатовић вратили се у судски притвор у Хагу". politika.rs (in Serbian). 1 June 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- Anastasijević, Dejan. "Franko Simatović – Frenki". Vreme.
- "Šef srpskih eskadrona smrti je - Dubrovčanin". Slobodna Dalmacija.
- Franko Simatovic Frenki: The Croat who heads Milosevic's secret police
- "Ko su bili Simatović i Stanišić?". B92.net (in Serbian). B92. Tanjug. 30 May 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- "Case Information Sheet Stanišić & Simatović" (PDF). IT-03-69 The Prosecutor v. Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
- "Summary of Judgement for Milan Martić" (PDF). International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. 12 June 2007. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
- "Oslobođeni Stanišić i Simatović". B92. 30 May 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
- Hague Court orders retrial for 2 aides of Milosević, New York Times, 16 December 2015.
- "UN Court Frees Serbian Security Chiefs Before Trial", balkaninsight.com; accessed 25 December 2015.
- "STANIŠIĆ AND SIMATOVIĆ (MICT-15-96)". unmict.org. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- "Hag: Frenki pušten na privremenu slobodu". b92.net (in Serbian). Beta. 12 December 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.