In his cross-examination, a French officer who served as a high-ranking member of UNPROFOR in Sarajevo in 1995 said that the Serb forces took various measures to ‘suffocate the people in Sarajevo’. The next witness was another French officer. He was stationed in Sarajevo in late 1993 and in 1994 and he confirmed that the citizens of Sarajevo were targeted by random artillery and sniper fire by the VRS

Radovan Karadzic in the courtroomRadovan Karadzic in the courtroom

A high-ranking UNPROFOR officer from the French Army gave evidence at the trial of Radovan Karadzic under the pseudonym KDZ-304. In his written statement to the OTP, KDZ-304 said that the Bosnian Serbs in Sarajevo had three main goals: to demoralize the civilians by terrorizing them in order to weaken the morale in the BH Army, to seal off Sarajevo completely and to raise the morale of their own troops by intimidating the UN military and civilian staff.

Continuing his cross-examination of the French officer, Karadzic tried to contest those claims, showing that Serbs fired only on military targets in Sarajevo and that the BH Army opened fire on its own people to ‘vilify Serbs and provoke a military intervention’. Karadzic put it to the witness that the ‘Muslim side benefited’ from the shelling and sniper incidents with casualties, as ‘those caused damage to the Serb side’.

‘You are wrong’, the witness replied, saying that the Bosnian Serb forces ‘took various measures to suffocate the people in Sarajevo’: firing on civilians, closing down the ‘blue routes’, making it impossible to use public transport, cutting off water and electricity... ‘The side that did it was guilty’, the witness concluded.

The prosecution then called another French officer who had held high-rank in UNPROFOR. He too testified under a pseudonym, KDZ-450, and with image and voice distortion. According to the summary of the written statement, admitted into evidence, the witness was stationed in Sarajevo in late 1993 and for the most part of 1994. As he could see, artillery and sniper attacks on civilians were used for ‘tactical purposes’ by the Bosnian Serbs to force the BH Army to stop its offensives on other battlefronts. The ‘strategic objective’ was to force the Bosnian leadership to agree to carve up Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Witness KDZ-450 divided the time he had spent in Sarajevo into three periods. The period from his arrival in Sarajevo in October 1993 to the first Markale incident on 5 February 1994 was extremely difficult, the witness recounted. It was the second winter under siege, the citizens were exhausted and under constant sniper and artillery attacks. It was difficult to bring in humanitarian aid. The fighting continued and peace talks lead by international mediators Owen and Stoltenberg failed.

After the first Markale massacre on 5 February 1994 and after the agreement on the exclusion zone for heavy artillery and on the ceasefire, there was a relatively stable period. The so-called ‘blue routes’ were opened, allowing humanitarian aid to come in. The situation changed once again in late July 1994, with another period of uncertainty with increasingly frequent shelling and sniper incidents. This period ended in September 1994.

In his cross-examination, Karadzic argued that when the agreement on the exclusion zone for heavy artillery was signed on 17 February 1994, the BH Army continued to fire on Serb positions around Sarajevo from the ‘edge of the exclusion zone’ in Central Bosnia. Serbs then acted ‘in self-defense’ and seized a number of heavy artillery pieces they had placed under UN control. Karadzic tried to show that heavy artillery ‘was the only element of strategic balance’, because the BH Army had three times as many personnel in Sarajevo. This is why the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps ‘became more vulnerable’ when its heavy artillery was placed under UN control, since the BH Army infantry, superior in number, was not.

The witness disagreed with Karadzic’s claims, saying that signing the agreement on the withdrawal of heavy artillery didn’t put any of the sides to disadvantage. Karadzic will continue cross-examining the witness tomorrow morning