CHALLENGING ORIGIN OF FIRE IN SARAJEVO
Ratko Mladic’s defense challenged the findings of Sarajevo investigators: according to the defense, the investigators were wrong when they determined that the civilians in Livanjska Street and the passengers in trams in Sarajevo in 1994 and 1995 were killed and injured by the Bosnian Serb army artillery and snipers. Mladic’s defense put it to the witness that the fire had in fact been opened from the BH Army positions. There followed a debate about witness Dragan Miokovic’s ethnic origin: is he an ethnic Srbin, a Bosniak, a Yugoslav…or a little bit of everything?
At the beginning of the cross-examination of Sarajevo police officer Dragan Miokovic, Ratko Mladic’s defense counsel tried to establish the witness’s ethnic background. In the examination-in chief, Miokovic said he was an ethnic Serb from Sarajevo. Defense counsel Miodrag Stojanovic brought up the ‘discrepancy’ between that statement and what the witness had said to the investigators in 1995. Miokovic had told them he was a Bosniak. The witness replied he was born ‘of a Serb father and a Serb mother’. Until the war, the witness said, he declared himself a Yugoslav and then as a Bosniak. But as Miokovic contended, this does not in any way ‘degrade my Serb origin’.
The cross-examination then moved on to more relevant topics, as the defense counsel tried to prove that the three shells fired on Livanjska Street in Sarajevo on 8 November 1994 were fired from the BH Army positions. A girl and a woman were killed on the spot and another child later succumbed to injuries. The defense based its claim on the fact that the day after the incident, UNPROFOR representatives said they suspected the shell had been fired from the Bosnian army positions. At a press conference, UNPROFOR representatives stated they had been prevented from investigating the incident.
As Miokovic explained, UNPROFOR staff would arrive at the artillery incident sites before the Sarajevo police and would proceed to ‘tamper with them’. A soldier from Africa was thus seen moving the stabilizer of the first shell fired on Livanjska Street. According to the witness, he told the soldier to leave the scene. The French Battalion soldiers arrived soon afterwards, and said that their investigation team would be there shortly. As it turned out, nobody arrived and the Sarajevo investigation team left the crime scene. Not long afterwards, two more shells hit the same location.
Two teams carried out crime scene investigations the next day, and each team remained adamant it was right: UNPROFOR claimed the shells had been fired from the BH Army positions and the investigators from Sarajevo claimed that the shells had come from the territory under the VRS control. Miokovic said that the ‘dilemma was eliminated’ when it was established that UNPROFOR used the incorrect ‘Finnish firing tables’, useless in Sarajevo.
The defense went on to contest the findings of the witness’s investigation team that VRS was responsible for sniper attacks on the trams in Zmaja od Bosne Street in Sarajevo on 23 November 1994 and 3 May 1995. One person was killed and several persons were injured in the attacks. The defense counsel put it to Miokovic that he was not a ballistic expert; Miokovic readily confirmed that, but noted there were ballistics experts in his team.
The defense counsel showed the witness a police report in which eyewitnesses claim that the first incident didn’t take place at the site identified in Miokovic’s report and that there was no line of site from the ‘new’ site to the Serb snipers’ position in the Metalka building. Miokovic claims that snipers fired from that building. The defense counsel also put it to the witness that BH Army snipers were stationed in the buildings around Zmaja od Bosne Street, such as the Federal Executive Council building, the Assembly building and the Unis building. The witness couldn’t confirm the allegation. As far as the second incident was concerned, the defense brought up a statement made by a witness of the second attack, who said that gunfire bursts could be heard during the attack. As Miokovic explained, his department did not take those statements; other police services did.
- Case : Mladic
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