AUSTRALIAN POLICE OFFICER IN SREBRENICA’S KILLING FIELDS
Senior inspector in the Australian police gives evidence at the trial of Ratko Mladic about his involvement in the investigation of the Srebrenica crimes conducted by the Tribunal’s OTP from 1998. The witness coordinated the program of identification and exhumation of mass graves in the Srebrenica area
Parts of the transcript of the evidence Australian inspector Dean Manning gave at the trial of the Srebrenica Seven in 2007 and at the trial of Radovan Karadzic in 2012 were admitted into evidence today in the case against Ratko Mladic. The prosecutor read out in the courtroom a brief summary of the witness’s testimony. From 1998 to 2004, Manning coordinated the work of investigators in the exhumation program. The aim of the program was to locate and exhume mass graves, to establish their connection with the events in Srebrenica and to establish the number of exhumed victims, their identity, sex and cause of death.
As the coordinator, Manning worked not only with the OTP investigators but with the archeologists, anthropologists, forensic pathologists and others involved in the exhumation program. Based on the gathered data, Manning wrote three reports in 2000, 2001 and 2003. In November 2007, the witness amended the reports to include the information collected after he had left the OTP. In his replies to the prosecutor, Manning said that he had examined in detail all the findings presented by those involved in the exhumations – from items recovered in mass graves, to post mortem results and the conclusions of forensic experts about the cause of death and the way the victims lost their lives.
Bodies recovered from mass graves were mostly victims of mass executions: this is evidenced, as Manning claimed, by the fact that the victims were blindfolded, their hands were tied and by the position of their bodies in the graves. The mass graves were located through witness statements and aerial photos provided by the US government to the OTP, Manning confirmed. The aerial photos were even more important in the effort to uncover the so-called secondary graves. The victims’ bodies were exhumed out of the graves where they were first buried and were then moved to secondary graves. This was part of an operation to cover up the crimes perpetrated after the fall of Srebrenica, the witness explained.
In the cross-examination, Ratko Mladic’s defense counsel challenged the Australian police officer’s ability to coordinate the exhumation program and, in particular, his ability to write proper reports based on the expert findings of pathologists and other forensic experts. Manning’s conclusions, the defense argued, couldn’t be objective because it was in his interest as an OTP officer to corroborate the allegations in the indictment. The defense opposed to the admission of Manning’s reports into evidence and the issue would be considered later.
Dean Manning continues his evidence tomorrow.