As he testified in the defense of former VRS Main Staff commander Ratko Mladic, Slavko Gengo claimed that the ‘Muslim side refused to participate in the work of the joint military commission’, set up to establish the origin of the shell fired on the Markale town market on 5 February 1994. According to Gengo, the Muslim side feared that the commission would determine that the massacre had been ‘staged’ as were many other incidents in Sarajevo

Slavko Gengo, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialSlavko Gengo, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

On 5 February 1994 a mortar shell was fired on the Markale town market. In his statement to Ratko Mladic’s defense team, Slavko Gengo, former commander of the 7th Battalion in the 1st Brigade, part of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, claimed that the mortar shell hadn’t been fired from the positions held by his brigade in Mrkovici. As Gengo explained yesterday, he was told about the findings by an UNPROFOR officer who had visited the position manned by Gengo’s troops in Mrkovici on 6 February 1994 together with VRS soldiers. Unfortunately, Gengo couldn’t remember the officer’s name.

Referring to a series of documents, the prosecution claimed that a joint military commission never did go out in the field the day after the Markale shelling. In the re-examination, the defense counsel referred to the same documents, claiming that they did not show the commission hadn’t visited the field that day.

Gengo said that General Manojlo Milovanovic, Chief of the Main Staff, asked that a joint commission be set up. The ‘Muslim side refused to participate in the commission’s work’, Gengo said. In Gengo’s view, Muslims decided against it ‘in fear of the truth because the commission would prove the Markale incident had been staged in Sarajevo, as were some other previous attacks’. The witness listed a series of incidents such as the shelling of the bread queue in Vase Miskina Street and blowing up Sefer Halilovic’s apartment. Finally, the defense counsel showed another prosecution exhibit, which, in the defense’s view, proved that the ‘Serb side wasn’t given any information on the investigation’. The witness confirmed it.

At the end of his cross-examination of the witness, prosecutor Adam Weber noted that Gengo had given ‘almost identical’ statements to Mladic’s and Karadzic’s defense teams. The only difference, the prosecutor stressed, is that Gengo told Karadzic’s defense that the Muslims protested against the BH Army opening sniper fire on Gengo’s brigade positions because they were afraid the VRS would respond by firing on them.

Gengo replied that it was an ‘abridged version’, but he was sure he had ‘mentioned everything’. Mladic’s defense team may have ‘left things out while typing’, Gengo explained. The indictments were identical, and so were the statements, the witness said. Gengo confirmed that his troops responded to the BH Army fire depending on the snipers’ positions, either with mortar fire or with small or large caliber cannons.

The topic piqued the interest of presiding judge Orie who tried to establish how Mladic’s defense was able to produce a statement that is identical ‘word for word’ to the statement Gengo gave to Radovan Karadzic’s defense. Gengo claimed that the defense team didn’t have his previous statement. He ‘spoke, and they wrote it down’, the witness explained. ‘If you asked me 10 years later, I would tell you the same thing’, Gengo assured the judge.

Judge Orie also tried to establish the exact locations of the positions held by the witness’s brigade at Spicasta Stijena. The presiding judge wanted to know if fire could be opened on Sedrenik from those positions. The indictment alleges that 14-year old Tarik Zunic was wounded in Sedrenik on 6 March 1995. The witness replied that the sniper rifles he had were not accurate at ranges exceeding 800 meters. In Gengo’s words, Sedrenik was further away and the houses that were in range mostly ‘belonged to Serbs and were abandoned’.

After Gengo completed his evidence, the defense called Dragan Maletic, who will continue his evidence tomorrow.