In the cross-examination, Radovan Karadzic appealed to ‘the honor and professionalism’ of witness Mirza Sabljica, trying to get Sabljica to confirm Karadzic’s argument: that ‘‘establishing facts wrongly and erroneously blaming one or the other side for the Markale atrocity would make it impossible to achieve reconciliation or delay the process’ in BH

Radovan Karadzic in the courtroomRadovan Karadzic in the courtroom

Former Republika Srpska president Radovan Karadzic is charged with the artillery attack of the VRS on Markale, the Sarajevo town market, on 5 February 1994. The explosion of a mortar shell killed 66 persons and injured more than 140.

The first investigation was conducted by a crime scene team from the Sarajevo Security Services Center. Prosecution witness Mirza Sabljica was in the team. As he was questioned by the accused today, Sabljica described a ‘chaotic situation’ he encountered at the crime scene. The stalls were turned over, various items were scattered on the ground, which was littered with human tissue and blood. Officers from the Stari Grad police department were already there, and had secured the location with yellow tape.

The witness confirmed today what a video recording of the crime scene investigation had shown already – that an UNPROFOR French battalion soldier had pried out a stabilizer fin from the asphalt with his knife. After that, Karadzic didn’t insist any more on his previous claim that the BH Army ‘drilled a hole’ in the crater left by the shell on the ground in order to blame the Serbs.

Karadzic claimed that the investigation team arrived at the crime scene a whole hour after the explosion, after the injured and the dead had already been removed and the crime scene had been changed. Appealing to the witness’s ‘honor and professionalism’, Karadzic asked him if he believed it was ‘better for the peoples in BH to achieve reconciliation this year or the next’.

‘From my point of view, as a man who declares himself to be a Bosnian, I consider all these peoples as one and I would like my country, BH, and all the people living there to be prosperous and for us to become part of Europe’, the witness replied. ‘I think this is where we belong, regardless of our ethnic differences and I believe that we have so much in common and things could run more easily if only there were more will’, the witness added.

This response prompted Karadzic to ask the witness if he agreed that ‘establishing facts wrongly and erroneously blaming one or the other side for an incident would delay the reconciliation process and cause a lot of damage to the efforts to restore normal life’. Judge Kwon intervened, warning the accused that he was ‘asking the witness to speculate’. The purpose of his question was to stress that ‘it is the duty of all of us to make an effort to achieve reconciliation this year and not next year or in ten years’ time’, Karadzic replied.

Karadzic has said several times so far during the trial that the reconciliation process is not possible as long as the Serb forces are considered responsible for the Markale atrocity. Reconciliation, in Karadzic’s view, is impossible for as long as he and his ‘innocent yet convicted’ generals – as he calls them – are in prison.

After Mirza Sabljica completed his evidence, the trial was adjourned because Karadzic wasn’t feeling well. A public hearing on Karadzic’s motion to compel the BH authorities to provide him with documents he deems relevant for his defense case is slated for tomorrow morning.