news 31 Oct 12

Karadzic’s Witnesses Cast Doubt on Markale Investigation

At the trial of the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karazic, three ex UNPROFOR officers testified that it is not clear which warring side fired the shell responsible for the 1994 Markale massacre in Sarajevo.

Justice Report
BIRN
The Hague

Testifying for the defence, three former senior officers of the Canadian UN protection forces, UNPROFOR, said that is not clear whether the mortar shell that fell on Sarajevo’s Markale market on February 5, 1994, killing 66 people and wounding 140, came from the Bosnian Serb positions.

Retired Canadian colonel Stephen Joudry, major John Ruchel and general Michael Gaultier said that, on the basis of an investigation conducted by UNPROFOR, it was not possible to determine the exact location from which the grenade was fired or which of the conflicting parties was responsible for firing it.

Joudry and Ruchel suggested that the grenade could have been fired from positions held by the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina or dropped at Markale from the roof of a nearby building.

Ruchel, who conducted an investigation at the Markale market on the day of the massacre, said that he was “personally of the opinion” that Bosniak forces “targeted themselves”, but the investigation results could not confirm that.

They could just confirm that either side in the conflict could have fired the grenade. 

Joudry, who was based in Zagreb, Croatia, in 1993 and 1994, said that, after having analyzed the results of the Markale massacre investigation, he “expressed serious dilemmas about the methods and results” to his superiors, although he personally did not visit the crime scene.

He said that the remnants of the grenade were removed from the crater before the investigation was completed, so neither the fall angle nor the direction could have been reliably determined.

Joudry said that even the deficient results of the investigation indicated that the grenade had come from the territories, which were 95 percent under the control of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“If Markale was the target, it was not possible to hit it with one single grenade,” without any previous mortar activity on that day, said Joudry, adding that “the most efficient way for hitting the market would be to manually launch the grenade from the roof of a nearby building”.
 
While being cross-examined by the prosecutor, Alan Tieger, Joudry confirmed that he did not conduct the investigation himself, adding that he neither examined physical evidence nor spoken to witnesses.

He accepted the suggestion that there were no grounds for him to deny the eye-witness statements.

Tieger said that witness’ allegation that most parts of the territories from which the grenade could have been fired were controlled by the Bosnian army was based on incomplete data.

Another witness, Major John Ruchel said that, after having examined the crater on the day of the explosion, he determined that the grenade must have come from a very close location due to the big angle under which it hit the ground.

He said that he determined that the projectile came from East-Northeast direction from a distance of between 300 and 5,500 metres.

During the cross-examination Ruchel confirmed that he did not have much experience in analysing craters prior to the Markale investigation.

General Gaultier, who conducted an investigation at Markale six days after the explosion, said that the integrity of the crater was undermined by removing the grenade remnants and that three investigators separately concluded that it was therefore not possible to reliably determine the grenade fall angle, on the basis of which the exact distance from which the grenade had been fired could have been determined.

While being cross-examined by the prosecutor, Caroline Edgerton, Gaultier confirmed that no permanent mortar positions held by the Bosnian army were located in the possible firing zone, as far as he knew.

Karadzic faces 10 charges of genocide and crimes against humanity during the Bosnian war, including the Srebrenica massacre and the siege of Sarajevo.

The trial continues on October 31.

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Background

Karadzic: War Criminal or Poet?

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.  

Srebrenica: Genocide Reconstructed

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.

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