In the cross-examination of demography expert Ewa Tabeau Ratko Mladic’s defense suggested that the victims exhumed from the Tomasica mine had been killed in combat. Though she didn’t rule out that, Tabeau stated that the victims died a violent death, in the ethnic cleansing campaign in the Prijedor area

Ewa Tabeau, witness at Rako Mladic trialEwa Tabeau, witness at Rako Mladic trial

Ewa Tabeau, the prosecution’s demography expert, continued her evidence at the trial of Ratko Mladic, former commander of the VRS Main Staff. She explained that the part of her expert report dealing with the cause of death of the Tomasica mass grave victims relied on the data from the expert report produced by pathologist John Clark. Tabeau’s report detailed the number of exhumed bodies, their identification and their link with the victims listed in the annex to Mladic’s indictment.

Tabeau confirmed that the cause of death could not be established for 86 of the exhumed victims, because their bodies had been transferred from the primary grave in Tomasica to the Jakorina Kosa secondary grave. As a result, the bodies were ‘fragmented and mixed up’. It was impossible to establish the cause of death based on those remains, Tabeau said, but they were used for identification.

Comparing the list of identified victims from Tomasica with the victims’ list from the annex to Mladic’s indictment, Tabeau found 123 matches. As many as 75 bodies were linked to the incident that happened on 20 July 1992 in the village of Biscani and the neighboring hamlets. Also, Tabeau confirmed that the exhumed bodies included the 23 victims killed, as alleged in the indictment against Mladic, in Room 3 in the Keraterm prison camp on 24 or 25 July 1992.

In the cross-examination, Mladic’s defense counsel Dragan Ivetic put it to Tabeau that she could not rule out the possibility that the persons buried in Tomasica had been killed in combat. The defense counsel quoted Tabeau's report, where she stated that ‘all victims in Tomasica died a violent death in extremely dramatic circumstances of an ethnic cleansing campaign in Prijedor municipality and in the Autonomous Region of Krajina’. Tabeau told him that ‘all victims from Tomasica were buried into an unmarked grave’. Many bodies were transferred from one location to another and were fragmented in the process. In Tabeau’s opinion, ‘the injury marks’ show unequivocally that their ‘death was violent’.

The defense counsel then put it to the witness that according to her report, the cause of death of the exhumed Tomasica victims was ethnic cleansing. The pathologist did not state that in his report, the defense counsel stressed. Tabeau replied that ‘non-Serbs, Muslims, men of military age, between 18 and 65 years of age, were clearly targeted, and a large number of them disappeared’. This ‘picture is pretty indicative of the process of ethnic cleansing’, Tabeau said.

In an effort to confirm the claim that the Tomasica victims had been killed in combat, the defense counsel referred to a document which states that all men from 14 to 60 years of age were under a legal obligation to participate in the defense. Ivetic also quoted from a document which states that in peace time in Bosnia and Herzegovina the mortality rate was from 30,000 to 34,000 people per year. Many people died during the war of causes unrelated to the war, the defense counsel noted. Tabeau replied that she couldn’t draw conclusions on war-time casualties based on a document not related to the war. Ewa Tabeau continues her evidence tomorrow.