As the cross-examination of the former member of the UNPROFOR French contingent continued, Ratko Mladic was removed from the courtroom for inappropriate interference with the examination of the witness. The trial continues after the Tribunal’s winter recess on 10 January 2013

Ratko Mladic in the courtroomRatko Mladic in the courtroom

The cross-examination of a former member of the UNPROFOR French contingent was completed at Ratko Mladic’s trial. The witness testified with protective measures: image and voice distortion and under the pseudonym RM 176. Before the end of the witness’s evidence, the accused Mladic was removed from court because at one point he interfered inappropriately with the examination of the witness.

Presiding judge Orie shed some more light on the incident that happened while the court was in closed session. When defense counsel Branko Lukic asked the witness ‘did UNPROFOR helped dig the tunnel underneath the Sarajevo airport with its machinery’, Mladic said ‘yes’ loudly before the witness had the time to reply. The judges saw this as an attempt on Mladic’s part to interfere with the examination of the witness and he was removed from court.

In the cross-examination of the French officer, Mladic’s defense tried to justify the fact that civilians who tried to leave the besieged city across the airport runway were shot at. The defense insisted that these incidents happened at night, that there were soldiers among the civilians and that it was difficult to distinguish them. The witness dismissed Lukic’s suggestion that UNPROFOR helped or tacitly allowed the nightly crossings of the runway. According to the witness, the peace-keepers would turn the people back and took those who were wounded to hospital.

Mladic’s defense counsel tried to contest the conclusion of the UNPROFOR investigation team that the Serb side was to blame for the shelling incident at a football match in Dobrinja on 1 June 1993. As the defense counsel noted, it was not possible to determine the angle and caliber of the shell. The witness said that it was more important to establish the incoming direction of the shell and the investigation did exactly that, establishing that the shells were fired from the direction of Lukavica. The fact that the caliber of the shell was not determined couldn’t significantly affect the findings of the investigation, in light of the height of the buildings surrounding the incident site and other findings the investigation teams established at the crime scene.

When the witness completed his evidence, presiding judge Orie wished everyone in the courtroom happy holidays, announcing that the trial would resume on 10 January 2013, after the Tribunal’s winter recess.