Sarajevo was under constant and heavy shelling, said Aernout Van Lynden, a former journalist, as the trial of the former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic resumes.
|Aernout Van Lynden, former Sky News journalist|
After a summer recess, the trial of the former commander of the Republika Srpska Army, Ratko Mladic, has resumed at the Hague Tribunal, ICTY, with the testimony of Aernout Van Lynden, a former Sky News correspondent who reported from Sarajevo in 1992.
Van Lynden said that during this period Sarajevo was under the full control of the Bosnian Serb forces.
“There was no electricity, all the shops were closed. There was no food. Everything depended on the ‘good will’ of the Bosnian Serb forces,” Van Lynden said.
“The UN was providing food to the town through Sarajevo airport. But there were days when even that was not possible,” he explained.
During Tuesday’s court session the prosecutor showed Van Lynden’s interviews with Mladic.
At the time, Mladic said that he was not afraid of the ICTY and that the UN should acknowledge the right of the Bosnian Serbs to defend themselves.
“We are going to defend ourselves until we die, because we have no other choice,” said Mladic in his interview with Van Lynden, which was filmed in 1992 on the hills overlooking Sarajevo.
In his cross-examination, Mladic’s lawyer Branko Lukic asked the witness whether Bosniaks used civilian infrastructure for military purposes during the 1992.
The witness confirmed that they had, saying that “it was expected, since the town was under siege.”
Lukic also questioned Van Lynden’s reports in which he stated that only the Bosnian Serb forces were shelling the area.
“Yes, it is true that I had said that the Bosnian Serbs were shelling the town. I heard that the Bosniaks had targeted civilians also, but I could not confirm that. I did not see that with my own eyes,” Van Lynden explained.
Mladic, who was arrested in May of last year, 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.
Mladic is also charged with the expulsion of Bosniaks and Croats from municipalities 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.
The trial will resume on August 22.
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.