News 06 Dec 12

Mladic’s Trial: General Fraser's Examination Continues

The trial of the former Bosnian Serb army chief, Ratko Mladic, continued with the cross examination of the former deputy commander of the UN protection forces, UNPROFOR, in Sarajevo, Canadian General David Fraser.

Justice Report
BIRN
The Hague

Fraser confirmed that the Bosnian army “on at least one occasion” shelled its own citizens in Sarajevo in order to put the blame on the Bosnian Serb side. 

During the cross examination by Mladic’s lawyer, Dragan Ivetic, Fraser, testified that on one occasion a grenade fired from Serb positions fell in downtown Sarajevo and then the same spot was hit by a missile fired by Bosniaks.

Fraser could not specify when exactly that happened but he said that both explosions caused civilian casualties.  

In his main testimony of Wednesday, December 5, Fraser said that the Bosnian Serb army exposed Sarajevo to indiscriminate and excessive artillery and sniper fire.

Mladic is charged with terror against civilians in Sarajevo with artillery and sniper attacks between 1992 and 1995,  genocide in Srebrenica and seven other municipalities, the expulsion of non Serbs across Bosnia and taking UN peacekeepers as hostages.

 During the cross examination on Thursday, Fraser confirmed that the Bosnian army had violated several truces by firing from portable mortars in Sarajevo, despite a ban on the use of heavy weaponry.

He added that a French member of UNPROFOR was killed in April 1995 near the Sarajevo airport by a sniper from predominantly Bosniak forces.

The Bosnian army snipers also operated from the government buildings in downtown Sarajevo, said Fraser.   

The witness confirmed one of his earlier statements before the Hague Tribunal that in September 1994 the Bosnian army shot at the vehicle carrying the UNPROFOR commander adding that it was an “isolated incident” and that the motorcade found itself in the crossfire.

 Asked by Ivetic whether UNPROFOR ever threatened the authorities in Sarajevo with NATO air strikes, Fraser responded negatively, emphasising though that international forces sent out strong protests.

“We have never sought air strikes because there were no appropriate targets in the city.... We did not know where the portable mortars of Bosnian forces were and we were constantly looking for them... "

"You never make threats if you cannot follow up on them. We have never threatened the Muslims, we only protested,” said the witness.

The witness dismissed Ivetic’s suggestion that it goes to show UNPROFOR’s bias in favour of Bosniaks, given that in September 1994, the Bosnian Serb army was bombed at the request of the UN forces.

“We were not in war with the Serb side, we were there under the UN mandate. Air strikes were caused by the actions of the Serb army which was forewarned in time,” said Fraser.

Mladic’s defence is due to end the cross-examination of Fraser on Friday, December 7.

 

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Background

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.

War in Bosnia

Key dates and events in the Bosnia war.

Ratko Mladic: The Force Behind the Srebrenica Killings

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.

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