Mladic’s witness Sinisa Maksimovic suggested that the shell that hit the Markale town market on 5 February 1994, killing 66 and injuring 140 Sarajevo citizens, hadn’t been fired from the Serb positions. According to Maksimovic, the sniper bullet that wounded a 14-year old boy at Sedrenik on 6 March 1995 hadn’t been fired from the Serb positions either. Maksimovic did note that he was appointed the commander of the unit that held those positions after the first incident, and left the unit before the second one

Sinisa Maksimovic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialSinisa Maksimovic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

In the second part of the hearing at Ratko Mladic’s trial, Sinisa Maksimovic gave evidence in Mladic’s defense. During the war Maksimovic, a Bosnian Serb military officer, commanded several units in the Sarajevo theatre of war. In the second half of 1994, Maksimovic commanded a platoon in the 1st Romanija Brigade. The unit held positions in the sector of the village of Mrkovici and at the notorious Spicasta Stijena. The prosecution alleges that Spicasta Stijena was one of the positions used to terrorize the citizens of Sarajevo with sniper fire.

Defense counsel Stojanovic read out the summary of the witness’s statement. In the summary, Maksimovic presented his assumptions about the sniper attack at Sedrenik on 6 March 1995. Tarik Zunic, a 14-year old boy, was wounded in the arm in the incident. The witness didn’t specifically deny the responsibility of the Serb snipers. He merely pointed out that the distance from the place where the round was fired to the site where the boy was hit exceeded 1,000 meters. According to Maksimovic, there were no sniper rifles or soldiers trained to use them at Spicasta Stijena, and the units deployed at that location were under constant fire from the BH Army.

In his statement to the defense, the witness noted that at that time he no longer was the platoon commander. He had been transferred to the Igman Brigade, Maksimovic explained. In the cross-examination, prosecutor Bibles put it to the witness that, if so, he couldn’t know what went on at Spicasta Stijena. Maksimovic agreed, adding that he knew the distance to the place where Tarik Zunic was wounded although he was not there at the time of the incident. This, however, was the least important information pertaining to the incident because – as presiding judge Orie noted – the distance could easily be established on the maps admitted into evidence.

In his statement to the defense, Maksimovic said that as the platoon commander he often had contacts with his soldiers. They ‘were convinced to a man’ that the ‘Muslims staged the incident’ when the Markale town market was shelled on 5 February 1995. The shell killed 66 Sarajevo citizens and injured about 140. The prosecutor noted that at the time, the witness was not the platoon commander in the sector of the village of Mrkovici where the shell was fired from, according to the prosecution. Maksimovic, the prosecutor explained, was in Banja Luka on military training. The witness confirmed that it was true.

As he moved from unit to unit, Maksimovic happened to take part in Operation Lukavac 93 as a member of an intervention platoon. The operation was headed by the Chetnik warlord Branislav Gavrilovic Brne. The witness didn’t comment on the prosecutor’s suggestion that Brne’s unit killed prisoners of war in that operation. Maksimovic only said that his platoon captured three BH Army soldiers – a Serb, a Croat and a Muslim. The prisoners were taken to the brigade command for further examination.

Maksimovic will complete his testimony on Monday. Over the weekend, the witness was given ‘homework’: he must read the statement made by Perica Koblar from Sarajevo. At Vojislav Seselj’s trial, Koblar described how members of Brne’s unit killed prisoners.