News 28 Jun 10

Witness Testifies About Siege of Sarajevo

The prosecution at the trial of wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has called a protected witness, a former member of the French Battalion with UNPROFOR in Sarajevo, whose testimony was conducted in large part in a closed session.

During the open part of the testimony the prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, read the statement given previously by the same witness and submitted it into the evidence. This was followed by a short period of questioning.

Witness KDZ 185 was in Sarajevo in 1993 where he witnessed the constant shelling of the city. According to his statement, about 1,200 shells were fired toward the city on a daily basis, often not targeting military targets.

The witness said that in this way the city was in a constant “state of terror”.

He also said that the Army of Republika Srpska, VRS, held the city under siege.

According to the indictment, between April 1992 and November 1995, Karadzic “established and implemented a strategy that used sniping and shelling to kill, maim, wound and terrorize” the civilians of Sarajevo. Thousands were killed and wounded.

Karadzic, whose cross-examination of the protected witness also started today, complained about the measures given to protect the witness' identity, saying that only victims should be given protection. He also said that he is afraid that the trial chamber will not get the right picture about Sarajevo.

“Most of the witnesses who have been in the courtroom up to now did not know what was going on in Sarajevo. Now we have here a witness whose job was to know what was going on and who was doing what,” Karadzic said.

He asked for five hours with this witness, and his cross-examination should end on June 29.

The prosecution asked that this witness be given protective measures and be examined in partly closed sessions. They also asked that he be cross-examined only on issues directly mentioned in his statement, and that a representative of the French government be present in the courtroom “in order to intervene should matters of national security arise”.

The witness previously testified at the trials of generals Momcilo Perisic, whose trial is ongoing and Stanislav Galic, who was sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment for the siege of Sarajevo.

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