Australian general John Wilson testified about the superiority of the Bosnian Serb forces over the defense of Sarajevo in the spring of 1992. Wilson said that in 34 years of his military career he had never seen military force used as 'excessively, disproportionately and indiscriminately' as it was in Sarajevo, although he had served in Vietnam and Lebanon

John Wilson, witness at the Ratko Mladic trialJohn Wilson, witness at the Ratko Mladic trial

The trial of the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army Ratko Mladic continued today with the evidence of Australian general John Wilson. The witness spoke about his experience during his brief but eventful stay in Sarajevo from mid-May to late June 1992. At the time, Wilson was the head of the UN military observers in the former Yugoslavia. Before his arrival in BH, Wilson did a tour of duty in Croatia.

In his statement to the OTP investigators the witness said that in the spring of 1992 other military observers sent reports to him about the ethnic cleansing of Bijeljina, Zvornik and Podrinje and about the unlawful detention of civilians. Wilson's evidence focused on his stay in Sarajevo. While he was there, Sarajevo was under 'constant, heavy and widespread' shelling and sniping from the VRS positions day in day out, the witness contends.

In 34 years of his military career, the Australian general went through the war in Vietnam, Lebanon and Croatia. The witness claims that until he came to Sarajevo he had 'never seen fire at such a scale, especially on civilian targets'. Thousands of shells fell on the city every day and civilians were exposed to constant sniper attacks, the witness said. When General Wilson complained about it to General Mladic, Mladic didn't deny responsibility. Mladic tried to justify the attacks saying this was done to 'defend the Serbs or respond to attack'.

The witness said that he received reports about the occasional provocations of the BH Army artillery; they’d fire a few shells from the front line or opened fire from mortars mounted on a truck. The Serb forces responded 'excessively, disproportionately and indiscriminately', Wilson insisted. The response to the two or three shells fired on Serb positions would be hundreds of shells per square kilometer of the city residential areas.

General Wilson met Mladic several times. As he said, Mladic had complete control over the Bosnian Serb army that kept Sarajevo under siege. Wilson came to this conclusion based on the fact that fire was suspended on the order of the accused when the soldiers were evacuated from three JNA military barracks in Sarajevo in May 1992. Also, Wilson was present when Mladic threatened twice he would retaliate against Sarajevo. The first time Mladic said that he would 'raze half of the city to the ground' if JNA soldiers weren't evacuated. Mladic threatened again he would 'raze all of Sarajevo to the ground' if the international community intervened militarily. Asked if he had taken Mladic seriously, the witness replied, 'Of course, he fully intended to implement everything he said, both the good and the bad'. When Mladic heard Wilson's words he reacted by nodding in agreement.

Prosecutor Bolton tendered into evidence two intercepted conversations which show that Mladic had the power to control the situation in Sarajevo. In the first conversation of 21 May 1992, Mladic tells a JNA officer stationed in one of the barracks in the city: 'Tell them they can't do anything, they can't breathe because Sarajevo is under siege'. Three days later, talking to the defense minister in the BH government Jerko Doko Mladic said: 'You should know that Sarajevo is within range of my artillery. It is your head under my feet, not the other way around'. In yet another conversation, Mladic bragged he had 'more artillery pieces than troops'. The witness said that UN observers who visited the VRS positions confirmed that boast. In their reports, UN observers said there were 'more cannons than soldiers'.

General Wilson’s examination continues tomorrow.