Former cameraman in the 2nd Krajina Corps press center Milorad Zoric claims in his statement to the defense that the accused Ratko Mladic protected civilians during the war. Mladic was ‘particularly sensitive’ to the plight of the elderly and children. The prosecutor suggested that Mladic showed no sensitivity when he attacked the non-Serb population in the Bihac protected zone

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

Ratko Mladic's defense case continued today with the evidence of Milorad Zoric, war-time cameraman in the VRS 2nd Krajina Corps press center. In his statement to the defense Zoric says that in this capacity he produced about 500 ‘exclusive reports’ chronicling the events at the front lines, assembly sessions and meetings between the accused and UNPROFOR representatives. Yet, none of those reports were shown in court.

Before the war Zoric was a teacher in Bihac. In late May 1992, he fled the town when the situation began to escalate. In just one month Zoric went from being a rank-and-file soldier in the Bihac Brigadeto the Corps press center where he remained until the end of the war. Zoric recounted how for four years he had tried to break through the ‘media blockade’ and to push the stories from ‘our’ (i.e. Serb) side to the world media. According to Zoric, his efforts yielded some results, because he sent the footage he had made first to the Republika Srpska TV network, and then to Reuters. As he explained, the major global media outlets picked up his stories from Reuters.

The witness said he often met Mladic. According to Zoric, the accused general wanted ‘as much material as possible from our territories to be broadcast to the world’. Mladic expected his soldiers to treat prisoners of war in line with the regulations and was particularly keen to protect the civilians. ‘He was particularly sensitive to the plight of the elderly and children’, Zoric said in his statement.

In the cross-examination, prosecutor Jeremy noted that the accused did not show much sensitivity to the civilians’ ordeals when he attacked Bihac during the war. This happened despite the fact that the UN Security Council had declared Bihac a protected area. The witness pointed out that he had not taken part in the planning and implementation of combat operations; he merely tried to produce ‘footage that was as attractive as possible’ and to depict in his reports the real situation in the field. In the Serb positions around Bihac Zoric taped cows grazing around cannons, which was supposed to show that the artillery had not been active for some time.

In the re-examination, defense counsel Stojanovic raised the issue of the attacks the BH Army 5th Corps launched on the Serb positions from the Bihac enclave. Zoric waxed eloquent as he recounted that in late October 1994 an offensive was launched by the Muslim side. The BH Army managed to penetrate into the Serb-held territory to a depth of 25 kilometers. Presiding judge Orie intervened, remarking that the witness seemed to have little or no knowledge at all of the Bosnian Serb military operations despite the fact that he had frequently been to their positions, yet he was far more knowledgeable when it came to BH Army activities. Zoric replied that during the war he was ‘more interested in the enemy attacks’ because he ‘feared them more’.

During Zoric’s testimony the Trial Chamber gave Mladic ‘the last warning before you are removed from court’ because he had been making loud comments and communicating inappropriately with the visitors in the public gallery.

At the beginning of the hearing, the defense announced that its witness list had been reduced by 30 names, in order to cut down the time needed for the presentation of the defense case.