A Canadian intelligence officer, who is testifying with measures to protect his identity, corroborated Mladic’s claim that the Muslims shelled their own people in order to be able to blame the incidents on Serbs. The witness claimed that the shell that caused the first Markale town market massacre was thrown out of a nearby window. In the cross-examination it turned out that the shell was too heavy and the building too far away from the town market for his claim to be credible

Photo of the Markale 1 masacr on 5th Februari 1994Photo of the Markale 1 masacr on 5th Februari 1994

Ratko Mladic’s defense continued with the evidence of a protected witness, who testified under the pseudonym GRM 037 and with voice and image distortion. From November 1994 to July 1995 the witness – a Canadian intelligence analyst – worked in the UNPROFOR headquarters in Zagreb. Two representatives of the Canadian Department of Defense were present during his testimony to prevent possible disclosure of any information relevant for national security.

The witness had already testified at Radovan Karadzic’s trial. In his statement to Karadzic’s defense the witness stated that among the ‘Western-leaning’ intelligence community ‘it was generally held’ that the Muslims were responsible for some of the worst shelling incidents in Sarajevo. According to the witness, the intelligence officers believed that the Muslims would kill their own civilians in order to blame the Bosnian Serb army and provoke an international military intervention.

The witness accuses the Muslims of shelling the Markale town market in February 1994. He alleges that the shell was tossed out of a nearby window. Sixty-six persons were killed in the incident and 140 were wounded. As witness claimed, when he arrived in Zagreb on his tour of duty, a US sergeant showed him a photo of a person throwing a shell out of the window. Later it turned out that the witness was able to see the photo from a distance of about three or four meters and only for a brief moment. Actually, the witness couldn’t clearly see the contents of the photo. The witness took the word of the American who said that the photo showed a shell being tossed out of the window on the town market. The witness didn’t remember who the American was and wasn’t able to tell the names of other participants of the Zagreb meeting. In fact, the witness was unable to identify a single source of his information. After the second Markale attack in August 1995, a Canadian officer told the witness that the shell had been tracked by the UNPROFOR radar system, but it was impossible to determine where the shell had been fired from.

In fact, the only names the witness did mention were movie characters. The witness thus said that the international observers ‘snuck around and snooped like James Bond’ in a bid to collect intelligence about the Serb positions and send it to NATO. As the witness put it, some of the observers were armed ‘like Rambo’. This made them legitimate targets if NATO decided to launch strikes against Mladic’s military positions, the witness said. His evidence aided the defense’s effort to justify one of the four joint criminal enterprises listed in the indictment – taking UN personnel hostage in the spring of 1995.

Prosecutor File put it to the witness in the cross-examination that his scenario about the Markale incident was not realistic. An artillery shell cannot explode if it is not fired from its weapon because detonators will not be activated. The witness explained that some Russian grenades could explode upon impact without the activation of the detonators. The shell that hit the Markale town market was indeed manufactured in Russia, the witness claimed. The prosecutor obviously was not impressed by the Canadian intelligence officer’s allegations as he took less than 20 minutes to complete the cross-examination.

When he was questioned by Judge Orie, the witness said that the Russian shell in question weighed between 13 and 23 kg and that it was possible to toss it on the town market because the building was less than a meter away from the impact site. The witness then marked the building on a photograph, prompting the presiding judge to note that the building was ‘meters and meters and meters’ away from the site where the shell fell. The witness agreed with the presiding judge, thus contradicting his earlier claim about the Markale shelling.

Ratko Mladic’s trial continues on Monday.