At the trial of the former Bosnian Serb army chief, Ratko Mladic, a prosecution witness described how his wife was killed in an explosion at Sarajevo’s Markale market in August 1995.
Sujelman Crncalo described how his wife went to the Markale market in the morning of August 28, 1995.
“She did not return by 11, as we agreed, so I went to look for her... I will never forget that image... The street in front of Markale was covered in blood, from end to end, body parts everywhere, shoes... parts of clothing on the fence... blood trail left as they dragged the wounded,” recalled Crncalo.
After he did not find his wife on the list of the wounded in the hospital, Crncalo was sent to the morgue.
“I immediately recognised her among seven bodies. They were all women. She was the third in a row, ” said the witness.
According to the indictment against Mladic and earlier verdicts of the Hague Tribunal, the shell was fired at Markale from positions of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps of the Army of Republika Srpska.
Mladic, who was arrested in May of last year, has pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war during the Bosnian conflict between 1992 and 1995.
He is charged with genocide in Srebrenica in 1995 and in several other Bosnian municipalities in 1992, the expulsion of Bosniaks and Croats from territories under the control of the Bosnian Serbs, terrorizing Sarajevo citizens with a campaign of shelling and sniping and taking international soldiers as hostages in 1995.
Crncalo said that the life during the Sarajevo siege was hard because of daily shelling and sniper attacks and because of shortage of water, food and electricity.
Crncalo testified that in July 1992 Bosnian Serb authorities expelled him and another Bosniaks from Pale, transporting them by buses to Sarajevo.
In June of the same year, the witness had heard the then president of Republika Srpska Radovan Karadzic saying at the rally at Pale that the “best way to defend Serb houses – is to attack Muslim houses.”
Prior to that, according to Crncalo, Nikola Koljevic, one of the Bosnian Serb political leaders, had told local Bosniaks that “Serbs do not want to live with them”, while the local police commander told them that he could not guarantee their safety.
Crncalo said he had to transfer the ownership of his house in writing to a Serb woman.
During cross-examination, Mladic’s lawyer Dejan Ivetic pointed out that the contract allowing the use of the house did not include ownership of Crnacalo’s house. The witness responded that he had to sign the contract immediately before leaving for Sarajevo and that he did not analyse its content.
The defence suggested that Crncalo and other Bosniaks from Pale left voluntarily, but the witness denied that, saying that he would never leave his home voluntarily.
At the start of the hearing, the Trial Chamber forbade Mladic to speak in the courtroom, with an explanation that at least on five occasions he loudly and inappropriately addressed witnesses or commented on their statements.
“According to the new rules, which would be in effect throughout the process, Mladic will be allowed to address his defence only during the recess and pass on written instructions to his lawyers in the courtroom,” said the presiding judge Alphons Orie.
The trial is scheduled to resume on Monday, October 1.
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.
Key dates and events in the Bosnia war.
The Bosnian Serb commander’s role in the genocide committed in Srebrenica is described in detail in many indictments and verdicts pronounced before local and international judicial institutions.