In the cross-examination of BBC war reporter from Sarajevo Martin Bell, Radovan Karadzic contended that the Serb side was a victim of ‘a denigration game’. Bell agreed up to a point. He described his last testimony in The Hague as ‘an illuminating experience’. Almir Begic, the son of one of the victims in the first Markale massacre, took the stand after Bell. The prosthetic leg that Karadzic claimed had been planted on the scene belonged to Camil Begic, his father

Almir Begic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial Almir Begic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

Continuing the cross-examination of British journalist Martin Bell, Radovan Karadzic tried to prove there was a purported ‘pattern of ruses of war’ the opposite side used to ‘denigrate’ the Serb side. In the ‘denigration game’ – as Karadzic called it – the BH Army used various ‘tricks’, like shelling its own civilians to blame the Serbs.

Karadzic was convinced that all the major incidents that were ‘given great publicity’ were ‘staged’ by the Bosnian police. Karadzic promised he would present evidence to corroborate his claims. According to that theory, the first Markale incident was staged ‘in its entirety’, as ‘old dead bodies were planted at the scene’. In the second Markale incident, there ‘was an explosion in which people were sacrificed’ but the ‘Muslim side caused the explosion’.

Karadzic tried to prove that the ‘media found it hard to comprehend the whole truth about Sarajevo’, Bell included. Using his ‘common sense’ Bell ruled out the possibility that one side – this time the BH Army – could open fire on its own people.

Bell distanced himself from Karadzic’s claims that the Markale massacre of 28 August 1995 was staged. As Bell said, he was ‘one hundred percent sure’ it was impossible to stage such an incident, and least of all the suffering of the victims of that crime. Bell confirmed that he was guided by his ‘common sense’ and ruled out the possibility that someone could open fire on their own people. Bell nevertheless agreed with some of Karadzic’s claims.

The British journalist confirmed that the Serb army had not been an organized force until the JNA’s withdrawal. In that period, ‘self-organized gangs’ reigned on both sides. They were not controlled by anyone. Arkan and his ‘Tigers’ could not be controlled at all and the Muslims who left Zvornik in April 1992 were ‘refugees and not displaced persons’, the witness explained. In the re-examination, prosecutor Edgerton quoted Karadzic’s speech in the RS Assembly; he said that the Serbs ‘managed to grab’ a number of places with no more than 30 percent of Serbs in the overall population; Zvornik was among them. Karadzic intervened, explaining that this was a ‘political speech’. The intention was to make the loss of Grahovo and Glamoc ‘easier to swallow’ for the deputies. Bell confirmed that the loss of those two towns was a heavy blow to Serbs and agreed that in that context Karadzic’s address in the assembly was a ‘political speech’.

Martin Bell called his testimony in The Hague this time ‘an illuminating experience’. After he left the court, Almir Begic, son of Camil Begic, was called to the witness stand. Camil Begic died in the first Markale massacre on 5 February 1994. Almir Begic confirmed that the prosthetic leg seen in the videos from the Markale belonged to his father.

In a written statement admitted into evidence today, the witness said he was ‘horrified and shocked’ when Karadzic claimed in his opening statement that the prosthetic leg had been ‘planted’ and that the victims were in fact ‘plastic dolls’. Describing the impact of the massacre on himself and other citizens of Sarajevo, the witness tersely explained ‘those moments were tough and it was important to survive’. ‘It was very difficult to live in Sarajevo during the war’, the witness added.

The trial continues tomorrow when the accused Karadzic will cross-examine Almir Begic.

Almir Begic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial
Artifichal leg from