SREBRENICA – MASSACRE OR ACCIDENT?
Ratko Mladic’s expert Svetlana Radovanovic criticized the prosecution’s expert for using the term massacre in her description of the events following the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995. The witness said that her science knew of only three types of violent death – murder, suicide or accidental. Radovanovic noted that she couldn’t tell which of the three happened after Mladic’s troops entered Srebrenica
In light of the examination-in-chief of Svetlana Radovanovic yesterday and today, most of her criticism of the findings presented by the prosecution demography experts have to do with the terminology they use. Today the witness, who is testifying as the defense’s demography expert, said that the prosecution’s expert Ewa Tabeau used the term massacre to describe the crime in Srebrenica inappropriately and not in line with the rules of scientific terminology.
Defense counsel Ivetic read out a part of Ewa Tabeau’s report at the Mladic trial in which she said that she used the term massacre because it was known that about 8,000 men disappeared from Srebrenica in mid-July 1995, and a large number of them were exhumed from mass graves and identified by DNA analysis. These facts, as witness Radovanovic argued today, do not prove that genocide was committed there. In Radovanovic’s view, in demography there are three categories of violent death – murder, suicide and accidental death. In this case, it is impossible to claim with any certainty that the victims recovered from the mass graves were killed in combat, committed suicide or died accidentally, e.g. by stepping on a mine. The witness thus wanted to corroborate the defense’s case that the prosecution and its experts exaggerated the scale of executions of the Srebrenica prisoners.
The defense expert also criticized her colleagues, the prosecution demography experts, for using the term ethnic cleansing. Ewa Tabeau used the term to describe the situation in the municipalities of Bosanski Samac and Odzak. Tabeau concluded that Muslims and Croats ‘all but disappeared’ in those municipalities. Once again Mladic’s witness repeated that the term 'ethnic cleansing' was not used in demography. Furthermore, Radovanovic added, Ewa Tabeau should have stated whether she used the UN definition or some other definition. In Radovanovic’s opinion, only the Tribunal could decide if there was ethnic cleansing; it was definitely not up to the prosecution’s expert to do it. In its judgment in the case against Blagoje Simic the Tribunal’s judges found that there was a joint criminal enterprise in the Bosanski Samac and Odzak municipalities whose objective was to persecute the non-Serb population.
At the hearing today, there was a discussion about the results of the actions of the Bosnian Serb political and military authorities and the prosecution expert's findings on the increase of the number of Serbs and the decrease of the number of other ethnicities in the municipalities listed in the indictment against Mladic. The defense witness claimed that in her report Ewa Tabeau presented ‘in an intellectually dishonest manner’ the sudden increase in the number of Serbs' making it look as if their share in the total population increased by 25 per cent. In fact, Radovanovic stressed, the number of Serbs rose only by 10 per cent. Presiding judge Orie placated the witness, saying that the Trial Chamber understood very well that the total number of Serbs rose by 25 per cent, but this was a 10 per cent increase in the overall population. The witness would not budge, arguing that prosecution expert spoke only of the 25 per cent increase in her report. The judges ‘don’t reread the pages they have already gone through’, Radovanovic noted. ‘I must disappoint you, that is exactly what we do, we reread the pages when we read reports’, presiding judge Orie replied, concluding the debate.
The cross-examination of Svetlana Radovanovic began at the end of the hearing today.
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