Karadzic’s defense witness testifying under protective measures has put forth one of the most original theories about the first Markale market attack. The witness claimed that after the attack UNPROFOR received intelligence that the Mujahideen fired the shell: they targeted Jews who were leaving the city that day, but the shell missed and hit the town market. In the cross-examination the witness admitted that he never saw any Mujahideen in Sarajevo

Radovan Karadzic in the courtroomRadovan Karadzic in the courtroom

Some witnesses testifying in Radovan Karadzic’s defense claimed that the Markale market was hit on 5 February 1994 by a shell thrown out of a window of a nearby building. Contrary to that, a former member of the UNPROFOR British Battalion in BH assumes that the shell was fired from a mortar stationed in close proximity of the incident site. The witness testified under the pseudonym KW 570 and was granted image and voice distortion to protect his identity. In the statement to the defense, the witness described what happened during his stay in Sarajevo from January to June 1994.

The accused read out the summary of the document in court. According to the summary, the BH authorities blamed the attacks on Sarajevo on Serbs in order to push the international community to intervene militarily. One of the incidents for which the Bosnian Serbs were unjustly blamed, according to the witness, is the first attack on the Markale market. Sixty-six persons were killed and more than 140 wounded in the incident. The witness contends that the circumstances of the incident were a ‘bit suspicious’ and that the ‘world blamed Serbs without evidence’.

The first suspicious element for the British soldier is the fact that only one shell was fired. The Bosnian Serb army usually fired several shells in a short time. Secondly, after the incident, the witness and other UNPROFOR members didn’t find any shrapnel. The witness suspects that they had been hastily removed from the crime scene. Thirdly, the witness claimed that because of the buildings surrounding the market, the shell had to have a high trajectory: this means it was fired from close proximity.

This is why the witness believes that the Serbs were unjustly blamed for the attack. He offered one of the most original explanations of the Markale incident so far. After the attack, UNPROFOR received intelligence that the Mujahideen had fired the shell in a bid to hit the Jews who were leaving Sarajevo at that time. The Mujahideen missed their intended target and hit the market, the witness claimed.

After he read out the summary of the statement which was then admitted into evidence, Karadzic didn’t have any additional questions for the witness and handed him to prosecutor Edgerton for cross-examination. The prosecutor put it to the witness that just one shell was fired on the Markale market because there was a ceasefire in effect. This is why there were fewer artillery attacks in that period. The investigation was completed before the UNPROFOR team arrived and the shrapnel were removed. There is, however, evidence that the shell stabilizer had been found, the prosecutor said. The prosecutor also noted that another UNPROFOR member, John Russell, concluded after the incident that the shell had been fired from close range because of the ‘verticality’ of the angle of descent. However, the witness admitted at Karadzic’s trial that he had used the firing tables incorrectly.

In his replies the witness mostly said that he couldn’t comment on the suggestions. The witness nevertheless admitted that he and other UNPROFOR staff never saw the Mujahideen in and around Sarajevo, which somewhat weakens the claim that the Mujahideen had hit Markale. ‘Honestly, we weren’t interested in who fired the shell, it was important to exploit the incident to end the madness in the city’, the witness said.

Another witness was scheduled to give evidence today but he will appear in court next week. Former commander of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps Dragomir Milosevic is also expected to testify next week. Milosevic, sentenced before the Tribunal to 29 years in prison for crimes against citizens of Sarajevo, will be transferred to The Hague from an Estonian prison for that occasion.