According to defense demography expert Svetlana Radovanovic, the conclusion that about 8,000 Srebrenica men went missing after Mladic’s troops entered the town in July 1995 is ‘nothing but manipulation’ and the result of ‘mixing apples and oranges’ with a single goal – to inflate the number of victims

Svetlana Radovanovic, witness at the Ratko Mladic trialSvetlana Radovanovic, witness at the Ratko Mladic trial

Since the beginning of the trial Ratko Mladic’s defense has been contesting the figures for the Srebrenica victims. The prosecution alleges that there were about 8,000 victims of the Srebrenica crimes. To corroborate its case, the defense called Svetlana Radovanovic, retired professor of demography and statistics. In her expert report Radovanovic contested the findings of Helge Brunborg and Ewa Tabeau, the prosecution’s demography experts. The prosecution experts concluded that after Mladic’s forces entered Srebrenica in July 1995 at least 6,942 persons went missing.

In Radovanovic’s view, the figures were exaggerated and the prosecution experts were ‘scientifically dishonest’ and tendentious. The goal of the prosecution experts was to inflate the number of victims at any cost and thus convince the judges that genocide was perpetrated in Srebrenica, Radovanovic explained.

As Radovanovic was questioned by defense counsel Ivetic, she said that the prosecution’s experts did not comply with the scientific method. Instead, the expert noted, Tabeau and Brunborg applied a ‘unified method’ which they felt would make it simpler to present the data they had obtained. In Radovanovic’s view, this method was nothing but manipulation. The witness repeatedly claimed that the prosecution witnesses ‘mixed apples and oranges’ just to get as many victims as possible.

As an example, the witness told the judges that in their reports, the prosecution experts included the missing persons from other municipalities, not just Srebrenica. The period when the victims went missing was extended up to 1996, Radovanovic said. She admitted that this pertained to a very small number statistically, but she could not see why they would be included in the first place if not to artificially inflate the number of victims. The ethnicity was not listed for about 1,000 missing persons in the prosecution’s demography reports, Radovanovic noted. The defense witness was also critical of the method used to establish the age of the victims. In a word, it was a ‘nothing but manipulation', Radovanovic concluded.

Witness Svetlana Radovanovic has testified at five trials in The Hague, in defense of seven accused. Four of the accused were charged with the crimes in Srebrenica. Her statistics are not good: none of the accused was acquitted, two of them were sentenced to life and the remaining five accused were sentenced to a total of 96 years in prison – an average of 19.2 years per person. Mladic’s defense expert will continue her evidence tomorrow.