General Mladic’s defense counsel put it to the witness that some sniper victims listed in the indictment were killed by stray bullets intended for the BH Army troops. Prosecution expert Patrick Van Der Weijden dismissed the claim as ‘technically impossible and tactically unreasonable’

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

After complaining yesterday of ‘not feeling well’, Mladic’s mood improved. The former commander of the VRS Main Staff laughed, exchanged notes with his defense and waved to the public gallery. In fact, Mladic seemed not to be paying much attention to the evidence of Patrick Van Der Weijden, who was asked by the prosecution to write an expert report on the sniper incidents in Sarajevo from 1992 to 1995.

The prosecution expert was asked to visit the locations of sniper incidents listed in the indictment and to determine the origin of fire. In most cases, the witness’s findings coincide with the prosecution’s allegations that snipers fired from the territory under the Bosnian Serb control. The defense objected to the admission of the report as, in its view, the witness lacks expertise. The defense contends that the witness’s report doesn’t list sources he used as a basis for his claims and conclusions. This has rendered them unverifiable, the defense contends.

Van Der Weijden discussed the wounding of three-year old Anisa Pita on 13 December 1992. As he tried to establish the origin of fire, Van Der Weijden eliminated all locations that could not have been used for technical or tactical reasons. In the end, he concluded that the bullet had come from the position of Baba Stijena. The defense counsel then put it to him that the BH Army troops could have been the target of the attack and that the wounded girl could have been hit by a stray bullet. The witness replied that he ‘assumed that the shooter targeted the victim’.

The defense counsel put it to the witness that Munira Zametica was also hit by a stray bullet on 11 July 1993; the actual target was the BH Army position at a nearby bridge. Munira Zametica was hit when she was trying to get some water from the Dobrinja river. According to Van Der Weijden, the BH Army soldiers would not have exposed themselves to danger; standing there, they would have been easy targets for the Serb forces stationed in a nearby church.

The defense counsel used General Michael Rose’s evidence to argue that the BH Army soldiers sometimes opened fire on trams from the same direction from which Serb snipers would fire. As the defense counsel claimed, fire could in fact have originated from positions closer to the tram lines in Zmaja od Bosne Street, rather than from the Metalka building. The prosecution alleges that the snipers targeted trams from the Metalka building. The witness replied that it would be ‘dangerous and unreasonable’. It would require the soldiers to lean out of the windows to shoot at a tram at the cross-roads in front of the Holiday Inn hotel, the witness explained.

After Van Der Weijden completed his evidence, the prosecution called Milan Mandilovic, who worked as a surgeon in the State Hospital in Sarajevo from 1992 to 1995. Mandilovic performed surgeries on many of the victims of the incidents listed in the indictment against General Mladic. Mandilovic will continue his evidence on Monday.