Former Serbia and Montenegro defense minister Prvoslav Davinic claims that during his tenure in the UN in New York an unnamed Greek colleague ‘told him as an aside’ that Serbs had been blamed for the second attack on the Markale market in Sarajevo for ‘political reasons’. As strong evidence in support of his claim, Davinic noted that Radovan Karadzic had ‘categorically’ told him in Pale in 1996 that Mladic ‘assured’ him that his soldiers were innocent

Prvoslav Davinic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialPrvoslav Davinic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

Radovan Karadzic called former defense minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Prvoslav Davinic, to The Hague in a bid to deny that the Bosnian Serbs were responsible for the attack on the Markale market in Sarajevo on 28 August 1995. The attack is the last on the list of 19 shelling incidents in the indictment. Forty-three people were killed and 75 were injured.

In the summary of the witness’s statement – read out by the accused – Davinic explains that he learned about the Markale attack the same day at a meeting in the UN building in New York. Based on the information he was able to get Davinic thought that the Serbs were blamed for that incident ‘for political reasons’. The other reason why Davinic believed that the army under Karadzic’s and Mladic’s command was innocent was the information he obtained from the two of them. As Davinic explained, in March 1996 he met with Karadzic in Pale. Karadzic then ‘categorically told’ Davinic that Serbs were not responsible for the attack. Karadzic’s was resolute because Mladic had personally ‘assured’ him his soldiers were innocent.

In her cross-examination, prosecutor Edgerton first remarked that Davinic met with Karadzic in 1996 when he was a high-ranking UN official and Karadzic was a fugitive from justice. In 2004, in his capacity as Serbia and Montenegro defense minister, Davinic allowed Mladic to use military vehicles while in hiding, the prosecutor said. The witness replied that he met Karadzic while he was on the run twice in 1996 but both visits were private, not official. On the other hand, Davinic claimed that until 2002 Mladic wasn’t in hiding. Mladic ‘disappeared’ when the Law on the Cooperation with The Hague Tribunal was passed and Davinic didn’t know whether in 2004 Mladic had been using the services of the Serbia and Montenegro army.

As to the second Markale attack, the prosecutor recalled that the Trial Chamber had heard a lot of evidence pointing the finger of blame at the Bosnian Serb army. A large number of UN staff in BH collected that evidence in comprehensive investigations. Asked if he wanted to say that all of them had ‘colluded’ with each other, conducting numerous measurements and ballistic analyses ‘for political reasons’, and collecting a vast photo and video file only to blame the Serbs, Davinic replied that he had ‘no opinion’ on the issue. Davinic said that he didn’t participate in the investigation. However, a Greek colleague from the UN whose name Davinic couldn’t recall ‘told him as an aside’ that Serbs were blamed for political reasons.

The prosecutor recalled that the shells fired on 28 August 1995 on downtown Sarajevo had markings from the Krusik factory in Valjevo, in Serbia. The witness replied that he didn’t know that, remarking that Al-Qaeda terrorists sometimes used ammunition manufactured in the USA. The prosecutor didn’t devote much time to the purported conversation about Markale in Pale in 1996 because the witness only repeated what the accused had told him then.

In the re-examination Karadzic noted that blaming Serbs for the Markale attack for political reasons was ‘a matter of public knowledge’. Davinic continued in the same vein saying that it was an ‘open secret’. He ‘heard a lot of rumors about it in the corridors in the cafeteria and in the delegates’ clubs’ in the UN building in New York.