Radovan Karadzic’s legal advisor clarified in the final part of the evidence of the ballistic expert Zorica Subotic that, according to the defense, ‘it is impossible to establish beyond reasonable doubt which side fired the mortar shelled that hit the Markale market on 28 August 1995’

Zorica Subotic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicZorica Subotic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

The shelling of the Markale town Market on 28 August 1995 is one of the crimes that the former Republika Srpska president Radovan Karadzic is charged with. The mortar shell blast killed 43 and wounded 75 Sarajevans. The defense wants to contest or at least cast doubt on the prosecution’s case, which is that the shell was fired from the VRS positions on Mt. Trebevic.

Today Karadzic specified that the ‘defense wants to prove what did not happen; it is up to the prosecution to prove what happened’. Karadzic’s legal advisor Peter Robinson clarified that, according to the defense, ‘it is impossible to establish beyond reasonable doubt which side fired the mortar shell that hit the Markale market on 28 August 1995’.

The defense wants to corroborate the case with the evidence of Zorica Subotic, a ballistic expert from Belgrade. Subotic claimed that the mortar shell couldn’t have been fired from the VRS positions. In Subotic’s opinion, the shell could have been fired from the territory under the control of the BH Army. The fact that nobody heard when the shell was fired led Subotic to conclude that the incident might have been caused by a stationary explosive device or a shell that was thrown from the roof of a nearby building. Subotic supported her allegations with a number of ‘unusual’ details from the crime scene.

In the cross-examination, prosecutor Gaynor played a video recording of the Markale market incident, highlighting some of the ‘peculiarities’ Subotic had listed in her report. She found it strange that one of the victims survived although both of his legs were cut off. Furthermore, she noted that the man’s position in the recording ‘is not in line with the direction of the shock wave’. Also, according to Subotic, the wounds on the body of another victim were odd: in her view they could have been inflicted by a rifle-launched grenade, not by a shell.

Zorica Subotic admitted that she was not a medical expert and that she never examined the bodies of victims killed in an explosion of a 120-mm mortar shell. In her replies to the prosecutor Subotic confirmed that she hadn’t seen anything in the reports of the UN and Sarajevo MUP teams that would point to a conclusion that a stationary explosive device was used or that the shell was thrown from a roof. The UN and Sarajevo MUP teams investigated the crime scene immediately after the explosion.

At the end of the expert’s evidence, Judge Howard Morrison went back to the first Markale incident in February 1994. He recalled Subotic’s theory that bodies of persons who had died elsewhere were planted among the dead and the wounded in Markale in order to boost the casualty list. If that is in fact the case, the judge said, then one should assume that it took a while to collect the bodies before the incident. In that case, their families would surely have been surprised to see their names on the casualty list and they would have enquired into the matter.

Subotic agreed that in that case the families would most likely have launched an enquiry. She added that she ‘found a document’ stating that a person listed among the Markale II victims was in fact killed in combat. Another person who should have been killed by the injuries shown in the footage wasn’t listed among the casualties at all, Subotic noted. She also complained that in some cases there were pages missing, some lists were incomplete or were kept at different locations.

After Zorica Subotic completed her testimony, the defense called its next witness, Dane Katanic, former president of the Executive Board in Skelani municipality.