A former UN commander told the Hague trial of Ratko Mladic that the Bosnian Serb military leader had total control over fighters who besieged Sarajevo.
|Michael Rose/Photo by ICTY|
Former UN protection forces, UNPROFOR commander in Bosnia and Herzegovina Michael Rose told the Tribunal this week that Mladic’s forces were also guilty of “disproportionate” artillery fire on Sarajevo in 1994 and 1995, causing civilian casualties.
Rose said that Mladic controlled artillery and sniper attacks on the city and Bosnian Serb leaders used the siege of Sarajevo to put pressure on the predominantly Bosniak authorities, UNPROFOR and the international community.
“Nothing could have happened in the military field without Mladic authorising or knowing about it,” the witness said.
The British general said Mladic had “total control” over his subordinates and often personally led offensives.
Former Bosnian Serb commander Mladic is charged with terrorising civilians in Sarajevo with a long-term shelling and sniping campaign. The indictment also alleges that he took part in genocide at Srebrenica and the expulsion of Bosniaks and Croats, and took UN personnel hostage.
Rose said that when he arrived in Sarajevo in January 1994, he found the city “without light, water and electricity” – shortages also used to put pressure on the Bosnian presidency.
After his arrival, he personally witnessed civilians killed by grenades fired from Serb positions. In reply to UNPROFOR protests, Mladic said that he was just responding to fire from Sarajevo, Rose added.
“However, the disproportion of the response undermined the credibility of his allegations... One should just look at [the district of] Dobrinja, which was totally destroyed. Its residents lived in basements. Artillery fire was opened even if a cat walked the neighbourhood’s streets,” Rose said.
Cross-examined by Mladic’s defence attorney Branko Lukic, Rose said that Ejup Ganic, the wartime Bosnian presidency’s deputy leader, “organised a secret police [force] whose members opened sniper fire on trams” in Sarajevo.
Responding to Lukic’s suggestion that Bosniaks were in favour of the continuation of the war, Rose said that the Sarajevo authorities “abandoned the peace process at a certain moment in 1994, after the Americans had armed and trained their forces”.
“They considered that going back to the war option was in their best interest. I was of the opinion that this was completely wrong,” Rose said.
During the examination, defence attorney Lukic suggested several times that UNPROFOR and Rose were biased against Serbs, although the British general denied this.
Mladic’s trial will resume on Monday.
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.