In the cross-examination of Dr. John Clark, Ratko Mladic’s defense suggested that the victims from Tomasica could have been killed in the clashes between Serb and Muslim forces, particularly in the Brdo area and the Kurevo forest

John Clark, witness at Rako Mladic trialJohn Clark, witness at Rako Mladic trial

As the cross-examination of British pathologist Dr. John Clark continued today, the defense of the former VRS Main Staff commander Ratko Mladic triedto prove that the Tomasica victims could have been killed in the clashes between the Serb and Muslim forces, especially in the Brdo area and the Kurevo forest. As regards the very existence of the mass grave,Mladics defense followed in the footsteps ofRadovan Karadzic, arguingthat under the law the terrain had to be cleaned upafter the battle.

To corroborate the allegation, Mladics defense counsel Branko Lukic stressed that some wallets, jewelry and identity documents were found near the bodies in the mass grave. According to the defense, that means that the victims may never have been searched, because they were never captured in the first place. Dr. Clark said that similar items had been recovered in other mass graves. The witness didnt want to speculate if the victims were searched or not. It was not within the scope of his expertise, Dr. Clark said.

Dr. Clarks report is based on the analysis of 709 gunshot wounds on the bodies exhumed in Tomasica. As he was questioned by the defense counsel, the British expert said that the number of injuries was minimal. Given that some bodies were incomplete and others were skeletonized, the actual number could be significantly higher, Dr. Clark explained.

As alleged by the defense, the small number of injuries to the legs meant that the victims might have been down on the ground when they were hit. Thus, the victimslegs were not so exposed to fire as their chests and heads. Dr. Clark confirmed that it was possible. However, witness repeatedly stressed that many of the injuries were located in the back of the victims' torsos and heads.

Defense counsel Lukic went on to note what in his report Dr. Clark notes that the bullets were recovered from the victimsbodies. The fact that the bullets remained in the bodiesshows that they were fired from a greater distance. If the bullets have lost some of their initial velocity, they would remain in the body. According to Dr. Clark, this may be the case, but only if whole bullets are recovered. As for Tomasica victims, in most of the cases, only bullet parts or small fragments were found. The fact that bullets remain in the body has nothing to do with the distance from which they have been fired.

The defense counsel finally returned to one of the witnesss answers from yesterday. Dr. Clark said,as a scientist I cannot rule out the possibility that some of the victims died in combat. The defense counsel asked Dr. Clark if he could rule out the possibility that none of the victims died in combat. What I said about one victim yesterday applies to all of them, the witness responded.

After Dr. Clark completed his evidence, the prosecution called its demography expert Dr. Ewa Tabeau who will continue her evidence next week.