news 17 Dec 12

Mladic’s Trial: Witness Says UN Had Insufficient Manpower

Before the start of its winter recess the Hague Tribunal has heard from one more UN peacekeeper who testified under protective measure at the trial of the former Bosnian Serb army commander, Ratko Mladic.

Justice Report
BIRN
The Hague

A French UN peacekeeper, testifying under the code name RM-176 and with his face concealed and his voice digitally altered, has testified last Thursday and Friday.

On Friday, the witness confirmed that in 1993 it was the duty of the UN protection forces, UNPROFOR, to prevent the smuggling of weapons and manpower to Sarajevo either through the tunnel underneath the Sarajevo airport or the airstrip itself.

RM-176  said that “this was in accordance with the agreement reached in June 1992.”

While being cross-examined by Mladic’s lawyer Branko Lukic, the witness confirmed that Bosniak fighters moved across the airstrip.

Asked by Lukic whether UNPROFOR “helped or silently allowed” the crossing of the airstrip, RM-176 replied that it “it did not allow the crossing of the airstrip”, but that UNPROFOR “did not have enough men” and “they could not control the whole airport.”

“They did not help them, but returned them to the starting point or moved them to the hospital if they were wounded,” said the witness.

In his main testimony on Thursday, the witness said that, during the first three months of 1993 “1,200 grenades hit Sarajevo each day”, adding that it seemed that some of the projectiles were fired “randomly, because they did not have a visible military target”.

The witness said that 2,400 grenades hit Sarajevo on March 21, 1993, adding that 400 of them exploded in the old part of the town.

The witness considered that it was a reprisal for the attack of the Bosnian army on the Bosnian Serb army positions.

During the cross examination the defence suggested, reffering to the events of March 21, 1993, that “2,000 grenades fell on the Muslim positions on the front line.”

“I would have to look into the UNPROFOR daily report to answer that question,” said the witness, after which the sound from the courtroom was turned off in order to protect his identity.

Focusing on the witness’s claim that on the same day 400 grenades fell on the old inner city, Lukic claimed that the headquarters of the 10the Mountain Brigade of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina were located there, in the close vicinity of the headquarters of the UNPROFOR Egyptian battalion.

“I did not know about the existence of the headquarters nor where it was located,” replied RM-176.

Mladic’s defence also denied results of the UNPROFOR investigation into explosion of two mortar grenades in the Sarajevo suburb of Dobrinja, during a football match on June 1, 1993, while there was a truce between warring sides.

The witness said on Thursday that the investigation showed that the grenades came from the direction of the Army of Republika Srpska barracks in Lukavica. According to the indictment against Mladic, “more than 10 people died in the attack and around 100 were wounded.”

At the suggestion of the defence that Dobrinja was a “highly militarised area,” RM-176 confirmed that there was a “certain number of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina brigades” inside the suburb.

Almost the whole cross-examination was held behind closed doors.  During the closed session Mladic was removed from the courtroom for talking too loudly.

Mladic’s trial of will resume on January 10, 2013, after the winter recess.

 

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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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