At Ratko Mladic’s trial, the OTP employee Maria Karall today repeated the offensive remarks addressed by the accused at a protected witness during a break in the hearing on 18 February 2013. After Karall completed her evidence, American intelligence officer Richard Butler resumed his testimony

Maria KarallMaria Karall

The evidence of the prosecution military expert Richard Butler was interrupted briefly this morning because the court heard the testimony of Maria Karall, an OTP employee. On 18 February 2013, Karall witnessed an incident in which the accused Ratko Mladic played the main role. During a break in the hearing, Mladic loudly made offensive remarks to a protected witness, RM 513, who testified in closed session.

Maria Karall was born in a region in Austria where there is an indigenous Croatian community. Since she speaks the language of the accused, Karall’s job was to follow Mladic’s utterances in the courtroom. In that period, the accused was prone to inappropriate reactions in court, such as making loud comments directed at witnesses or complaints.

On 18 February 2013, in the break after the first session Mladic said words which were overheard by Maria Karell. She wrote them down in an internal report. Ten days later, the Trial Chamber stated the words the accused used in reference to the witness were ‘shocking’ and ‘extremely offensive’. To protect the identity and the integrity of Witness RM 513 Mladic’s insulting words were today disclosed in closed session.

In the cross-examination, the defense played a video recording of the controversial event without sound, in a bid to establish when exactly the accused made the insulting remarks: while he was seated, as he stood up or as he left the courtroom. The witness couldn’t remember those details, which were important for the defense in its effort to prove that Mladic had actually been addressing his defense lawyers. This, the defense argued, was part of their ‘privileged communication’. The defense tried to use this argument to postpone Maria Karall’s evidence, but the Trial Chamber dismissed the idea, ruling that when the accused ‘shouted out loud’, he waived his right to private communication with his legal representatives. The defense indicated it would file an appeal.

As the trial continued Richard Butler returned to the witness stand. Butler took part in the OTP Srebrenica investigation from 1997 to 2003. He has written several reports for the prosecution about the course of events and the structure of units engaged in the crime. In today’s cross-examination, defense counsel Ivetic argued that the witness did not mention in his reports that an incident preceded the murder of more than 1,000 Muslims in the warehouse of the Kravica farm on 13 July 1995. In the incident, a detainee tried to seize a Serb policeman’s rifle. In the exchange of fire that ensued a police member was killed and another was wounded.

As Butler explained, this information was not available when he drafted the report, but when he testified at other trials he accepted the version of the event presented by the defense. He did so now too, Butler stressed. Nevertheless, in Butler’s view, the incident couldn’t be the cause of the mass murder that followed. As Butler noted, 1,000 persons couldn’t be killed ‘in response’ to the incident. There had to have been a decision to carry out the executions that lasted several hours. The prosecution expert will continue his evidence tomorrow.

Maria Karall
Richard Butler, witness at the Ratko Mladic trial