Milos Skrba, Mladic’s defense witness, denied that 120-mm mortars were located at the positions held by his detachment on Mount Trebevic. It was therefore impossible that a shell was fired from that location on the Markale Town Market in Sarajevo on 28 August 1995. According to the witness, the Bosnian Serb document that contradicts his statement contains "typing errors"

Milos Skrba, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialMilos Skrba, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

Ratko Mladic recovered from the stomach flu-related problems and appeared in the courtroom as his defense case continued today. The presiding judge expressed his satisfaction with this outcome. The defense called its next witness, Milos Skrba. Skrba’s company secured the area along the road from Lukavica to Pale.

A part of Mount Trebevic called Palez was in the area of responsibility of the witness’s unit. The prosecution alleges that the 120-mm mortar shell that hit the Markale market in Sarajevo on 28 August 1995 was fired from the area of responsibility of the witness’s unit. The shell killed 43 and injured 75 persons. The Babina Stijena elevation was also in the sector held by Skrba’s company. As alleged in the indictment, a sniper located there wounded three-year old girl Anisa Pita in the leg in front of her house in Zagrici Street, on 13 December 1992.

Mladic's lawyer read out the summary of the witness’s statement. Skrba claims that his soldiers never opened fire on civilians in Sarajevo; they only targeted enemy soldiers to defend themselves. As he answered the defense counsel's questions, Skrba said that his company didn’t have snipers. There was no need to have them because there was no ‘line of sight’ towards the BH Army positions; there was no line of sight to Zagrici Street where the girl was injured. Skrba also claimed that there were no 120mm mortars in his area of responsibility and the shell that hit the Markale market could not have been fired from his positions.

After the examination-in-chief, presiding judge Orie noted that in his statement the witness said that his soldiers were targeted by the BH Army snipers. That prompted the presiding judge to ask how there could be a line of sight in only one direction. Skrba told Judge Orie he had no interest in ‘chasing after the enemy in the woods’ and that he 'did not have any intention' of deploying snipers. When the presiding judge repeated the question, Skrba gave the same answer. ‘You gave an answer, but not to my question’, the presiding judge concluded.

In the cross-examination, the prosecution reminded the witness that in his evidence in Radovan Karadzic’s defense he said that there was a ‘terrific view’ of Sarajevo from the ‘Baba Stijena’ position. Today Skrba explained that the ‘terrific view’ was the view of ‘just one part’ of the city. Zagrici Street where the three-year old girl was wounded is not in that part of the city. Skrba admitted that his soldiers opened fire on civilian facilities but only after the residents had been removed and the BH Army soldiers had moved in. The witness agreed with the claim made in the documents that his brigade had about 30 sniper rifles and other rifles with optical sights. Nevertheless, the witness argued that he had no such weapons in the company under his command.

To contest Skrba’s allegations that there had been no 120mm mortars in the sector of Mount Trebevic under the control of his unit, the prosecution showed documents drafted by the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps in May 1995. According to the documents, a battery of four 120mm mortars was located in Trebevic-Palez. Skrba replied that most likely it was a ‘typing error’. Only 82mm weapons were deployed there, the witness claimed. In his order of 9 May 1995, the corps commander Dragomir Milosevic ordered his troops to ‘place large swathes of the Old Town under fire control in order to achieve the final victory’. The witness agreed with the suggestion that the Old Town comprised the Sarajevo neighborhood of Bascarsija. However, in Skrba’s opinion, the Markale Town Market was on the ‘border’ between that area and the city center and he was not sure if Markale is a part of Bascarsija.

Milos Skrba will complete his testimony tomorrow morning.