The presiding judge cautioned the prosecutor not to examine Mladic’s witness Colonel Milorad Bukva in great detail about his allegation that the Muslims had staged the bread queue massacre. The witness could not corroborate his claim with facts, and it has ‘zero’ probative value, the presiding judge said

Milorad Bukva, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialMilorad Bukva, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

At the very end of the testimony of Milorad Bukva, former intelligence officer in the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, the prosecutor referred to his claim that the bread queue massacre in Vase Miskina Street in Sarajevo on 27 May 1992 had been staged. In his statement to Ratko Mladic’s defense Bukva said that a man by the name of Mirza Jamakovic had planted an explosive device opposite the shop and activated it. People queuing for the bread were killed in the attack. After he spoke about it publicly after the crime, Jamakovic lost his arm in an attack organized by the ‘representatives of the Muslim authorities’, Bukva claimed. Soon afterwards, Jamakovic’s son was killed by a sniper at a location that purportedly could not be targeted from the Serb positions.

Asked to identify the sources of this information, the witness said that he had learned it from a ‘pre-war source’ whose name he did not know because the intelligence service used a pseudonym to refer to him.

When prosecutor MacGregor kept on pressing the witness about the details of the Vase Miskina Street massacre and the fate of the two Jamakovics, the father and son, the presiding judge Orie interrupted her. Judge Orie said that the probative value of Bukva’s statement about the attack ‘was zero’ because the facts couldn’t be verified. The fact that the defense is not aware of the lack of probative value does not mean that the prosecutor ‘should join in’ and probe the issue in detail in the cross-examination, the presiding judge noted.

The prosecutor then changed the subject, showing the witness a document from January 1993 which indicates that one of witness’s colleagues, Colonel Lugonja, who was the Corps security officer, gave his permission for the use of Muslim prisoners as forced labor. They were sent to dig trenches on the frontline. Bukva noted that according to the document Lugonja ‘agreed’ to it, but that does not mean he ‘allowed’ it. Later Bukva admitted that the Corps security officer had to give his approval for the sending of the prisoners to the frontlines. Asked if it was legal, the witness replied that the issue ‘hasn’t been defined’ by law.

After Bukva completed his evidence, the defense called Milenko Indjic, former liaison officer in the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps. He was in charge of communicating with UNPROFOR and other international organizations. In a paragraph in his statement to the defense Indjic also claimed that the Muslim side had staged the incident in Vase Miskina Street and other attacks on Sarajevo civilians, such as the Markale market massacre. Indjic even used the same phrase as Bukva did in his evidence, referring to the purported saying popular among the Sarajevans: ‘Whenever a TV crew appears, run, something will happen’. This was supposed to mean that the incidents were planned in advance and used for propaganda purposes.

In the examination-in-chief, Indjic claimed that during the war the Serb side complied with the ceasefire agreements. The BH Army regularly violated those agreements either by opening fire or by digging trenches in front of their positions. Although it ‘is not in the Serbs’ nature to complain and seek protection’, Indjic explained, it was his duty to inform UNPROFOR about those incidents. In the spring of 1995, UNPROFOR staff he had been talking to were arrested, and Indjic admitted that they were ‘put under the control’ of the Serb army on the orders issued by Mladic’s Main Staff. It was done after UNPROFOR was accused of siding with NATO, which was bombing Serb positions at the time. The witness said the hostages were treated professionally and weren’t abused. Indjic will continue his evidence tomorrow.

Milorad Bukva, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial
Milenko Indjic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial