In his evidence in Ratko Mladic’s defense, artillery officer Savo Simic explained the difference between planned artillery support and actual results. According to Simic, ‘the planned quantity of fire is always higher than the fire actually delivered’

Savo Simic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialSavo Simic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

On Friday the prosecutor continued the cross-examination of the former artillery chief in the 1st Sarajevo Motorized Brigade. According to the prosecutor, the documents showed to the witness prove that the shelling of Sarajevo from 1992 to the end of 1995 was disproportionate. The artillery terror campaign in Sarajevo is among the charges against Ratko Mladic, former VRS Main Staff commander.

The prosecutor first showed a document by Dragomir Milosevic, who commanded the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, from June 1995. In the document, Milosevic warns his troops about wasting ammunition which is the result of ‘purposeless shelling’. ‘We will not have any ammunition to stop the enemy’ at the time of need, the general warns. Milosevic also notes that some brigades spent less ammunition in combat than other brigades that waste their ammunition ‘in attacks on inhabited areas’. Simic told the prosecutor he didn’t know which brigades those were. However, ‘based on the document, I can conclude that there were such cases’. The prosecutor put it to the witness that he played down the significance of the document. ‘I am telling you only those things I know and those I can remember’, Simic retorted.

The prosecutor highlighted the part of the document where General Milosevic orders his soldiers to shell the same target from multiple weapons. This tactic, the prosecutor stressed, was used in the shelling of the Markale town market on 28 August 1995. As alleged by the prosecution, five 120-mm mortar shells were fired on the market, killing 43 people and leaving 75 wounded. Simic replied that the prosecutor’s theory ‘doesn’t make any sense from the point of view of concentration of fire’. In his view, that was ‘impossible’, the witness noted. According to the written statement Simic gave to Radovan Karadzic’s defense in 2012, the Republika Srpska Army was not responsible for the attack on the main town market in Sarajevo.

Quoting several documents from October and November 1992 the prosecutor suggested that the VRS shelled the ‘urban areas all over Sarajevo’ in line with the orders of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps command. Simic replied that ‘the planned quantity of fire is always greater than the fire actually delivered’, insisting on the discrepancy between artillery tasks and the eventual outcomes of artillery actions.

In the final part of the cross-examination, the prosecutor emphasized the inaccuracy of modified air bombs and the offensive actions mounted by the Republika Srpska Army. Simic stuck to the claim he had made in the statement: the VRS acted ‘in defense’, except in Operation Lukavica 93 and in other situations when it only ‘tried to improve its tactical positions’.

There will be a break at the trial of general Mladic until 22 June 2015. The prosecution will then re-open its case to call evidence on the mass grave in the Tomasica mine near Prijedor.