Only two witnesses of the 30 witnesses heard so far at the trial of Ratko Mladic testify for the first time before the Tribunal. Both witnesses were wounded in the night of 28 May 1992. The indictment alleges that this is when the first ‘heavy shelling of Sarajevo that killed and injured many civilians’ happened

Fadila Tarcin, witness at the Ratko Mladic trialFadila Tarcin, witness at the Ratko Mladic trial

For as long as she lives, Fadila Tarcin will suffer the consequences of a shell that exploded and hit three houses in the Sarajevo neighborhood of Sirokaca on 28 May 1992. The witness, who was 16 at the time, was wounded in both legs. Her toe joint was shattered and she has trouble walking. The incident is listed in the indictment against Ratko Mladic as the first incident of ‘heavy shelling of Sarajevo that killed and wounded many civilians’. Mladic was the commander of the VRS Main Staff at the time.

According to the summary of the statement, a few days after she was wounded the witness heard on the radio a recording of a conversation intercepted on 28 May 1992. In the recording, Mladic orders his troops to shell Velesici and Pofalici neighborhoods in Sarajevo, Dobrovoljacka, Humska and Djure Djakovica streets and to fire a salvo on the Presidency building. The audio recording in which Mladic is heard ordering his troops to ‘roll out the minds’ of the people in Sarajevo was played and admitted into evidence in late August 2012 in the evidence of yet another victim of the shelling in Sarajevo on 28 May 1992.

In the cross-examination, the witness confirmed that Sirokaca was not among the locations Mladic ordered to be shelled in the intercepted conversation. The defense counsel read out the transcript of a conversation intercepted a day later, on 29 May 1992. In the conversation, Mladic explains to the other man that the Bosnian side had hired ‘imitators and mime performers’ who are ‘able to mimic’ anyone’s voice, including Mladic’s. The witness said she didn’t know anything about it.

At the beginning of the cross-examination, the defense counsel asked a number of questions he called ‘contextual’. In her responses, Fadila Tarcin said there were unarmed guards in various neighborhoods in Sirokaca in May 1992. She didn’t know where the front lines had been; she saw a few reserve police officers on a couple of occasions, but never any large armed formations. The witness also said she didn’t see any BH Army troops passing through Sirokaca.

Since the witness said the only military facility near her house was a barracks of the former JNA, the defense counsel put it to her that BH Army troops were billeted in the local school. He read out a statement by a member of the Green Berets who said that the Sirokaca area was ‘controlled’ by about 200 people who set up check points. The witness claimed she never saw any check point and didn’t hear people talk about them.

In a bid to prove that there were legitimate military targets in Sirokaca, the defense counsel used an intercepted conversation between Radovan Karadzic with a man by the name of Momo and a report of the VRS Sarajevo-Romanija Corps. According to these two exhibits, in April and June 1992 artillery fire was opened from Sirokaca on Serb-held positions. The witness replied ‘I don’t have any knowledge of that’.