In his fourth testimony before the Tribunal, Canadian general David Fraser argued that the VRS ‘deliberately chose civilians as targets’, that Sarajevo was put under ‘disproportionate and random fire’ and that there ‘is no military justification’ for the use of modified air bombs. According to the witness, Ratko Mladic was on the ‘top of the chain of command in the VRS’

David Fraser, witness at the Ratko Mladic trialDavid Fraser, witness at the Ratko Mladic trial

The witness testifying under the pseudonym RM 019 completed his evidence at the trial of Ratko Mladic; his entire testimony was heard in closed session. The prosecution called Canadian general David Fraser as its next witness. From April 1994 to the end of May 1995, Fraser served as the assistant to the UNPROFOR commander in Sarajevo Sector.

Fraser’s statement based on his testimonies at the trials of former commanders of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps Stanislav Galic and Dragomir Milosevic and of Radovan Karadzic was admitted into evidence. Fraser saw first-hand the heavy artillery and sniper fire that the VRS ‘deliberately’ directed at civilians. Fraser said that the VRS shelled Sarajevo in response to the BH Army’s provocations, but insisted that the response was ‘disproportionate’ and the shelling ‘random’. For each shell fired by the BH Army, the Bosnian Serbs fired ten rounds, the witness said.

As an example of ‘indiscriminate and disproportionate’ shelling of Sarajevo, Fraser mentioned the VRS response to the BH Army’s shelling of the military barracks in Lukavica. The witness said that ‘innumerable shells fell on the entire city, not only on the headquarters of the Muslim forces’.

Fraser met General Mladic several times and had contacts with generals Galic and Milosevic. Fraser concluded that there was an ‘effective system of command and control’ in the VRS and that Mladic was on the ‘top of the chain of command’. The witness explained that the SRK commanders told him that the decisions to launch sniper or artillery attacks and to violate ceasefire were ‘beyond their control’. They received orders from ‘Mladic and the command’, Fraser said.

Although he never personally saw or heard attacks with modified air bombs, Fraser confirmed that he received reports of their use. In a densely populated city like Sarajevo it was not possible to ‘control either the firing or the point of impact’ of modified air bombs, Fraser explained. In Fraser’s view, there was ‘no sense […] and no military justification’ in the use of modified air bombs.

Fraser also insisted that freedom of movement of UNPROFOR members was ‘under threat’ in the whole territory under Bosnian Serb control. According to the witness, ‘Mladic’s staff’ was responsible for that. The claim was corroborated by a cable sent in April 1994 in which Mladic ordered that all convoys and UNPROFOR staff be ‘blocked’.

As the hearing today drew to a close, the cross-examination of the Canadian general began, to be continued tomorrow.