A protected defense witness claimed that the army under the command of the accused Ratko Mladic was not the sole culprit for war victims in besieged Sarajevo. The witness argued that ‘young Muslims’ would throw grenades at their fellow citizens. The witness claims he saw bodies with plastic bags on their heads in the city; in Pofalici there were more than 10 mutilated bodies of Serbs. One of the victims was a child with a severed head. Later on, the protected witness found six more severed heads: three were found hanging on the door of the Orthodox church in Novo Sarajevo and three were tied to the necks of stray dogs

Ratko Mladic in the courtroomRatko Mladic in the courtroom

After the evidence of former municipal official from Pale Zdravko Cvoro, Ratko Mladics defense called as its next witness a Serb who had spent the war in Sarajevo under siege. In fear for his personal safety, the witness asked for protective measures:imageand voice distortion and a pseudonym, GRM 311. The witnesss request was granted. In the statement to the defense team and in his evidence today, the witness recounted a series of shocking stories from the period he spent in the city under the control of the BH Army.

Defense counsel Ivetic read out the summary of the witness's statement in court. The witness claims that in the beginning of the war he ‘received an orderto make hand grenades for the BH Army in a civilian factory. The witness claimed that ‘young Muslimspicked up the grenades and went into the city with a list of persons who were to be killed. The Muslims purportedly threw grenades at their fellow citizens too, to ‘increase the number of victimsin the city.

The witness went out to collect wood for fuel, and on three occasions he saw bodies with black bags over their heads on different locations in the city. According to the witness, he was kidnapped on 5 January 1993 on his way home. ‘Men wearing ski masksthrew him into a van and took him to a location in Pofalici. There the witness was shown a pit with more than 10 mutilated bodies. ‘A child with severed head lay on top of the pile. The head had been placed on the breasts of a dead woman who lay beside the child. The childs hands had also beencut off; they were a little further away 'forming a cross'. The people in ski masks beat the witness up, breaking his arm and leg. The masked people threatened the witness that they would kill him if he didnt keep on making grenades for the BH Army. The witness continued going to work regularly despite the broken leg and arm until June 1994.

Most of the brief examination-in-chief proceeded in closed session. The only thing that was said in open session was that in a 12-hour shift the witness was able to make about 120 grenades.

At the beginning of the hearing, the prosecutor said that in his view the witnesss statement and his evidence constituted a tu quoque defense. The Tribunals rules prohibit this form of defense, which is based on alleging crimes committed by the other side. The Trial Chamber nevertheless admitted the statement into evidence and allowed the testimony to go on. The Trial Chamber apparently felt that the witness's evidence showed the Sarajevo citizens were not victims only of the criminals around the city, as the prosecution alleges, but in some cases of the criminals that were active inside the city.

Most of the witnesses so far have also testified at the trial of Radovan Karadzic; not so Witness GRM-311. He did testify previously, in the defense of General Dragomir Milosevic, former commander of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps. In the cross-examination prosecutor McGreggor noted the discrepancies between the witnesss testimony then and today. At Milosevic's trialthe witness said the pit incidenthappened in October or November 1992. Today he said it happened in January 1993. The witness said both times that ‘people wearing ski maskskidnapped him 11 times, but gave a different time frame for those incidents. The witness replied that earlier, in his evidence at the trial of General Milosevic, ‘somebody else made those mistakes, not me. The witness was adamant that everything he said in his evidence today was true.

In the cross-examination, the witness recounted that he saw more severed heads in Sarajevo, not just the childs head near the pit in Pofalici. One time, he was picked up in the street by a man in black limousine. The man, also a Serb, drove the witness to the Orthodox church in Novo Sarajevo and told him: ‘Look what they are doing to us. The man pointed to the church door where three severed heads hung. Soon afterwards, the witness saw a pack of about 15 stray dogs who were fighting over three severed heads. The heads were tied to necks of some of those stray dogs. As if wanting to confirm that he heard it right, the presiding judge asked the witness to repeat the story from the beginning and to specify where exactly the severed heads had been. The witness replied that three heads hung on the church door, and three other heads were tied around the stray dogsnecks.

The witness described the life of Serbs in the city in the worst possible light. In the cross-examination, he did admit that on the eve of the war he was given an apartment from his company, that he had no problems at work and that nobody threatened him. On the other hand, the witness claimed that he was expelled from Sarajevo after the war, in mid-1996, so that a Muslim could move into his apartment. This was done in a bid to buy the silence of the Muslim because his wife had been killed by the ‘Muslim troops, not by the Serb forces.

Witness GRM 311 will complete his testimony tomorrow morning.