MARRIED COUPLE CONFIRMS MLADIC’S ALIBI
Biljana and Zarko Stojkovic described in minute detail the course of their wedding that took place on 16 July 1995. The accused Ratko Mladic was the best man at their wedding. The witnesses thus corroborated the defense case that the accused couldn’t have communicated with his forces in the field in that period. According to the defense, Mladic stayed late at the wedding and wasn’t able to return to the Main Staff that same day. Mladic announced he would give a gift to ‘comrade Orie…when I am released’
The defense and prosecution agree that Mladic went to Belgrade on 14 July 1995, when the operation in which thousands of captured Srebrenica men and boys were executed was in full swing. In Belgrade, Mladic met with the highest-ranking Serb officials and international representatives. On 16 July 1995, Mladic was the best man at the wedding of Biljana and Zarko Stojkovic. The parties do not agree when it comes to whether during his stay in Belgrade the accused was able to communicate with his subordinated officers and whether he returned to the Main Staff in the evening of 16 July 1995 or on 17 July 1995. At that time, Mladic’s officers organized the executions of the captured men from Srebrenica in the Zvornik area.
Mladic’s wife Bosiljka Mladic has recently testified on those issues. Now the defense called the bride and groom, Biljana and Zarko Stojkovic, to the witness stand. Both in the examination-in- chief and in the cross-examination the witnesses described in minute detail the course of their wedding 20 years ago, on 16 July 1995. The wedding guests arrived in their apartment at about 10 am. Their best man Ratko Mladic and his wife Bosiljka were also among the arrivals. They all walked to the Vaznesenjska Church where the couple was married and at about 2 pm they went to Dva ribara, a nearby restaurant, for the wedding lunch.
The lunch was served and the guests danced various dances. Mladic drank a bit and the witness Stojkovic drank a bit more but not so much that his memory was affected. The party ended at 8 pm but both witnesses claim that Ratko and Bosiljka Mladic left earlier, at about 5:30 pm. The best man told Biljana he was leaving because he had ‘official obligations’. Zarko escorted Ratko Mladic to the parking where Mladic’s driver was waiting for him in the car.
Asked if Mladic had any means of communication at his disposal, both spouses claimed that he didn’t. In order to corroborate their claim that Mladic had not contacted his troops in Bosnia the witnesses said they had ‘kept an eye’ on the best man throughout the wedding. From 2 pm to 5:30 pm Mladic never left the table and couldn’t make any telephone calls. Mladic didn’t even go to the toilet, the witnesses claimed. After a series of questions on the issue, Zarko Stojkovic noted that neither he nor Mladic went to the toilet from at least noon – when the church ceremony began – to 5:30 pm, or for about five and a half hours. The witnesses added that their claims would be corroborated with the video footage and photos from the wedding but both video tapes and all photos have purportedly been stolen from Biljana’s mother’s house in Krusevac.
The prosecutor was nevertheless able to get hold of one photo showing the newlyweds with the best man. In the courtroom the photo was zoomed in on Mladic’s watch. According to the prosecutor, it was 2 pm and the wedding reception was in full swing. This contradicts the witness's claim that at that time they had just arrived in the restaurant. Zarko Stojkovic was adamant that the watch showed 3 pm. The prosecutor went on to show another exhibit, the transcript of an intercepted conversation held on 16 July 1995 at 4:15 pm. The duty officer in the VRS Main Staff in Crna Rijeka speaks to a person whose voice is inaudible. The prosecutor alleged that the person was Mladic. Zarko Stojkovic replied that the best man didn’t tell him anything about that conversation. He couldn't imagine when Mladic could have spoken to his officer. The BH Army surveillance operators weren’t able to catch what Mladic was saying. They could only record the Main Staff officer, the prosecutor explained. The defense noted that the name of the accused was never mentioned in the transcript.
After the Stojkovics ended their testimony, Mladic's trial continued with procedural issues. The accused waived his right to attend that part of the trial. He explained that he wanted to 'spend some time with his friends in the detention unit'. Given a rare chance to use the microphone and no doubt elated by the testimony about the wedding, Mladic got carried away and addressed 'comrade Orie', telling him he would send the judge a liter of 'frontline brandy' as soon as he is 'released'. He apparently meant the brandy he used to drink on the front-line.
- Case : Mladic
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