Radovan Karadzic tried to contest the expertise of Professor Berko Zecevic, prosecution ballistic expert who is testifying about the features, action and consequences of using various rocket systems to target Sarajevo. ‘My integrity is based on the laws of physics’, Professor Zecevic said at one point

Berko Zecevic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialBerko Zecevic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

Radovan Karadzic focused in his cross-examination of Berko Zecevic on technical questions about the features of various rocket systems and their warheads; he had obviously been prepared by his defense expert on weapons, Dr. Zorica Subotic. The ballistic and rocket expert from Sarajevo replied in an equally technical way. Zecevic’s responses often seemed like university lectures, and the accused expressed his resentment.

Professor Zecevic explained to the accused about ‘the internal ballistic performance of the projectile’ and the importance of ‘measuring the atmospheric parameters when making corrections to targeting’ in order to increase the accuracy of rocket attacks on targets. Zecevic also explained to Karadzic the difference in the effects of bombs filled with classic explosives and the so-called aerosol bombs, filled with liquid gas. A part of Zecevic’s ‘lecture’ was dedicated to the number of rocket motors used to launch 100 and 250 kg modified air bombs. The VRS Sarajevo-Romanija Corps introduced the weapon in its arsenal in 1994.

In his effort to contest the expertise of the witness, Karadzic tried to question Zecevic’s conclusions about some shelling incidents in Sarajevo in 1994 and 1995. Zecevic analyzed about 15 incidents listed in the indictment against Karadzic, using photos and reports of the Sarajevo police investigation teams provided by the prosecution. Zecevic also conducted an on-site investigation of the Markale massacre of 5 February 1994. The indictment alleges that 66 persons were killed and more than 140 injured in the attack.

Karadzic suggested that in an additional analysis of the incident in the Alekse Santica Street Professor Zecevic made some corrections to the estimates of the direction of the projectile made by the police in order to be ‘able to rule out the possibility of a ricochet and increase the number of projectiles fired’. Zecevic replied that Karadzic’s claim was ‘unprofessional, but it was his right to make such claims’. Zecevic then explained in detail how he was able to determine the direction from which the projectile had come and the impact angle.

Karadzic argued that Professor Zecevic’s conclusion that an aerosol bomb was used in the attack on the Sarajevo TV building was wrong. Had such a bomb been used, ‘two people who were just three meters away from the explosion site would not have been able to seek shelter behind the pillar and survive’, Karadzic insisted. Zecevic replied that ‘there was no damage of the kind one would see with a bomb containing classic explosives, which generates a lot of fragments: therefore it had to be an aerosol bomb’. Zecevic added that ‘although it was statistically unrealistic, those people nevertheless survived’.

Karadzic finally tried to find out why Zecevic claimed that it was ‘possible’ to determine the direction of the projectile that hit the Markale market in February 1994 although both UNPROFOR and the Sarajevo police admitted they were unable to establish it. Zecevic replied that ‘the police is not qualified to investigate the effects of military weapons’ and soldiers are qualified to ‘kill using military weapons and not to analyze their effects’. On the other hand, as Zecevic said, ‘I have 17 years of work experience and thousands of rockets and warheads below my belt’. This in Zecevic’s opinion qualifies him to say it is possible to determine the direction from which a projectile is fired.

As Zecevic said, in the investigation of the Markale incident he headed the commission set up on the orders of the investigative judge. Karadzic asked Zecevic if there were any Serbs on his team. Zecevic asked the accused, ‘please do not imply that any of my actions were motivated by nationalism or prejudice toward any religion, confession or ethnicity’. As Zecevic went on to say, ‘I do not distinguish people on the basis of their ethnic background as Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks or Jews’.

Karadzic continues his cross-examination of Professor Zecevic tomorrow.