News 16 Dec 15

Mladic Witness Claims Bosniaks Staged Market Attack

At Ratko Mladic’s war crimes trial, a protected witness alleged that the deadly attack on Sarajevo’s Markale market in 1994 was carried out by the Bosnian Army, not Serb forces.

Justice Report
BIRN
Belgrade
Ratko Mladic in court. Photo: ICTY.

Protected witness GRM-116, who testified in Mladic’s defence at the Hague Tribunal on Tuesday, claimed that the attack on the market that killed 66 civilians in February 1994 was approved by the then Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic.

The witness said that as a member of the Biseri special security unit from 1992 to 1994, he worked on security at the Bosnian presidency building.

He said that during that time he could hear what Izetbegovic and others said during meetings.

According to the witness, Izetbegovic’s main goal was to ensure Western intervention to help the Bosniaks “by creating mass suffering in Sarajevo and Srebrenica”.

He said that Izetbegovic was heavily influenced by Islamic community leader Mustafa Ceric. According to the witness, Ceric convinced Izetbegovic that “losses must be suffered”.

Speaking about the attack on the Markale market, GRM-116 testified that was “Ceric’s idea, which was carried out by generals Sefer Halilovic and Mustafa Hajrulahovic, alias ‘the Italian’”.

“I was there when Alija [Izetbegovic] approved this,” he said.

At the next meeting, the witness said that Halilovic reported the first attempt was a failure because the mortar hit the roof of the market.

“Alija told them to try again. They went and soon we heard what happened with Markale,” he said.

Izetbegovic, who died in 2003, said after the attack that it was a “black and terrible day for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

As commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, Ratko Mladic is charged with terrorising the population of Sarajevo during wartime with a campaign of shelling and sniping.

According to the charges, the mortar which killed 66 citizens at the Markale market on February 5, 1994 was fired from Bosnian Serb positions.

Mladic is also on trial for genocide in Srebrenica and other municipalities, persecution of non-Serbs across the country and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

The trial continues on Wednesday with the cross-examination of the protected witness.

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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.

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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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