In a report drafted for the prosecution, sniper expert Patrick Van Der Weijden established possible origin of sniper fire in incidents targeting citizens of Sarajevo. Complaining of health problems, Ratko Mladic at first refused to listen to the evidence he called ‘stupid NATO propaganda’ but then changed his mind

Patrick Van Der Weijden, witness at the Ratko Mladic trialPatrick Van Der Weijden, witness at the Ratko Mladic trial

As his trial resumed in 2013, Ratko Mladic complained about his health, saying, ‘I feel bad, my appetite is poor, I have lost weight in the last 10 days and I need to be treated in hospital’. Mladic asked to be returned to the detention unit because, as he put it, he preferred to ‘lie down in bed and die’ than to ‘listen to stupid NATO propaganda’.

Mladic’s reaction occurred in the middle of the examination-in-chief of the prosecution’s sniper expert, Dutch captain Patrick Van Der Weijden. The prosecution had asked Van Der Weijden to draft a report on sniper incidents in Sarajevo from 1992 to 1995.

Presiding judge Orie then invited Mladic to confirm that he agreed for the trial to proceed without him, but Mladic changed his mind. ‘I will not waive my right to defend myself against NATO lies to the last breath,’ Mladic said, telling the judges, ‘You are not the court’. Judge Orie removed Mladic from courtroom several times for incidents that were far less serious than this one. This time, Judge Orie merely stated that the accused would ‘prefer to remain in the courtroom’.

In the first part of the examination-in-chief, the witness explained the methodology and terminology he used in his expert report. As he said, the prosecution gave him a list of incidents with the map grid references, dates and summaries of statements made by both victims and witnesses. Van Der Weijden was asked to visit the sites and establish possible origin of fire. Van Der Weijden eliminated the sites from which it was technically impossible or ‘tactically unreasonable’ to fire a bullet. The witness tried to identify the weapon and determine the range and whether the snipers could see if the victims were civilians or fighters.

The prosecutor then showed the results of a number of investigations of incidents listed in the indictment that the witness made. In the investigation of the incident of 8 October 1994, Van der Weijden amended the report produced by the UNPROFOR French Battalion. According to the French Battalion, the tram with the passengers was hit east of the Holiday Inn Hotel. Witnesses claimed that the sniper hit the tram right in front of the hotel, in Zmaja od Bosne Street. Based on those statements, Van Der Weijden concluded that the fatal bullet that hit Alma Cutuna had not been fired from the direction of the Jewish Cemetery where the demarcation line was. According to the witnesses, the shot came from the Metalka Building. The prosecution alleges that the Bosnian Serbs held the position.

In his report, Van Der Weijden also spoke about target identification. If a sniper is not sure whether a potential target is a soldier or civilian, the rules tell him ‘not to open fire’, Van Der Weijden said.

Defense counsel Dragan Ivetic began cross-examining the witness by contesting the methodology and expertise of the Dutch officer. Defense counsel Ivetic will complete his cross-examination tomorrow.