At the trial of Radovan Karadzic, a former UN peacekeeper testified that a Russian officer told him that the 1994 Markale massacre in Sarajevo was not caused by a mortar fired from Serb positions.
Testifying at the trial of the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, at the Hague Tribunal, Sergej Moroz, who was an engineering officer with the UN protection forces, UNPROFOR, in 1994, said that the lieutenant-colonel Nikolaj Rumjancev told him that “a special explosive device”, which was activated on the ground, exploded at Markale.
According to the indictment the grenade, which killed 66 and wounded 140 people at Sarajevo’s Markale market on February 4, 1994, was fired from a position held by the Republika Srpska Army.
Karadzic is charged with having terrorized civilians in Sarajevo through indiscriminate shelling and sniping. He is also charged with the genocide in Srebrenica, persecution of Bosniaks and Croats across Bosnia and Herzegovina and taking the UN peacekeepers as hostages.
Moroz said that, after having visited Markale sometime after the explosion, he determined that a mortar attack on the market place would have been “a strange” scenario due to “an unusual projectile pathway”.
During the cross-examination, the prosecution presented the witness with an UNPROFOR’s report on the explosion at Markale, which was signed, among others, by the Russian officer Rumjancev, which stated that “the mortar shell detonated upon hitting the ground”. The report determined the possible projectile pathway as well.
Moroz responded by saying that he had never seen that report and that Rumjancev, who died in the meantime, “said what he said”.
Milorad Dzida, who was a former Security and Intelligence Officer with the 1st Romanija Brigade of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps of the Bosnian Serb army in 1994, also testified during Thursday’s hearing and denied the Republika Srpska Army’s responsibility for the Markale massacre crime.
Dzida said that the UN peacekeepers checked the mortar positions of his unit at Debelo Brdo and Mrkovici one day after the massacre and they determined that those weapons were not used.
“I am categorically saying that no mortar fire was opened from the positions held by my battalion,” Dzida said.
He stuck to his claims after the prosecutor Kimberly West had presented him with UNPROFOR’s reports about shelling of Sarajevo from the Bosnian Serb positions, including an incident in the neighbourhood of Dobrinja one day prior to the explosion at Markale, which killed eight civilians.
The trial will continue on Friday, November 2.
To the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, was a true sensation, and one to be exploited day after day.
In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.