Video recordings of the incident at the Markale town market in Sarajevo were shown at the trial of Radovan Karadzic together with the photos brought to The Hague by Sead Besic, a crime technician in the Sarajevo Security Services Center. Karadzic asked himself how fragments of ‘a single shell’ could have killed and injured almost 300 people

Radovan Karadzic in the courtroomRadovan Karadzic in the courtroom

At the trial of former Republika Srpska president Radovan Karadzic, the prosecution today called Sead Besic. As a crime technician in the Security Services Center in Sarajevo, Besic was involved in the investigation of both incidents at the Markale town market, on 5 February 1994 and 28 August 1995.

The witness also investigated two other incidents listed in the indictment against Karadzic: the shelling of a queue for humanitarian aid in Dobrinja on 4 February 1994 and a sniper incident in the Zmaja od Bosne Street on 18 November 1994, when Dzenana Sokolovic was injured and her son Nermin Divovic killed.

The witness already testified about those incidents at the trials of generals Stanislav Galic, Dragomir Milosevic and Momcilo Perisic. This time, the witness brought with him a number of photos of the crime scene, the shell stabilizers and shrapnel of the deadly shells and other evidence, as well as the photos of dead bodies in Sarajevo morgues. The prosecution also played once again parts of video recordings made in the aftermath of the explosions at the Markale market. Besic, who is testifying with image distortion as a protective measure, identified himself in a video clip, although his back was turned to the camera.

As a member of the investigation team from the Sarajevo Security Services Center, the witness was in charge of making sketches and taking photos of the crime scenes. The prosecutor asked the witness about his opinion on the often repeated claims of the accused that ‘old dead bodies were planted’ at the Markale market in August 1995. The witness replied he found it ‘difficult even to comment’ on such claims. In the witness’s view, the video footage and photos showing the dead and seriously injured victims speak enough about what had happened and clearly indicate the facts.

At the beginning of his cross-examination Karadzic focused on the first Markale incident in February 1994. Karadzic noted that the investigation team arrived at the Markale market after the crime scene had already been already ‘cleaned’, after the injured and the dead bodies had been removed. As he added up the numbers for those who were killed and injured and those who were unharmed and were able to help the victims, Karadzic concluded that 400 to 500 persons were at the Markale market that day. Karadzic asked himself what could have brought so many people to the market where, as he put it, there was not much merchandise. Also, Karadzic found it difficult to believe that the fragments of ‘a single mortar shell’ could hit ‘about 300 persons’ who were killed or injured. Karadzic will continue his cross-examination tomorrow.

The indictment alleges that 66 persons were killed and more than 140 injured in the explosion of a mortar shell at the Markale town market on 5 February 1994. In the second incident on 28 August 1995, 43 Sarajevo residents were killed and 75 were wounded.