Ballistic expert Zorica Subotic denies that Ratko Mladic’s army was responsible for the first attack on the Markale market on 5 February 1994. The shell was not fired at all, it had been planted on the ground, the expert claims. According to Subotic, the device was well hidden and activated on the ground

Zorica Subotic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialZorica Subotic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

Denying the responsibility of Mladic and his troops for the attacks on the Markale market is the key part in the defense case when it comes to the charges of the artillery terror campaign against the citizens of Sarajevo during the four-year siege. The first Markale incident happened on 5 February 1994 when 66 persons were killed and more than 140 were wounded. On 28 August 1995 Markale was attackedagain: 43 Sarajevo citizens died in the attack and 75 were injured. According to the defense, neither of the two deadly shells was fired from the Bosnian Serb positions. Today Zorica Subotic, Mladics ballistics expert, tried to corroborate the defense case.

In her testimony on the first Markale incident Subotic said that the number of casualties was astonishingly large. Also, Subotic noted, the casualties were incompatible with the destructive power of a 120-mm shell. In the experts view, it was virtually impossible for both shells to hit precisely the area in the market where most of the people were thronged at the moment. Subotic dedicated a part of her report to the very unprofessional and improperinvestigation into the incidents undertaken by the Bosnian side.

Subotic found it strange that no one on the investigation team noticed a heap of some material surrounding the place where the shell had hit the ground. The shockwave would have blown everything away, Subotic explained. Also, according to the experts analysis, the Bosnian investigators determined the incoming angle with a ballistic method that didnt exist. Moreover, the Bosnian investigators didnt try to establish the minimum incoming angle of the shell, Subotic stressed. This is important because it lets the investigators conclude if the shell could avoid some obstacles during its flight, such as the surrounding buildings and the market stall roofs in this case.

In her expert analysis, the witness noticed that the position of stabilizers shown on photos taken during the Bosnian crime scene investigation didnt match the position documented in the exhibits. A shell stabilizer was brought into the courtroom and the judges could see that its central part could be unscrewed and moved with a ball point pen. The expert claimed that it was technically impossible to do so under normal circumstances. While she worked with Radovan Karadzic's defense, she wasnt able to move the stabilizer, Subotic noted. That was a signal to the defense that someone had tampered with this crucial bit of evidence. Finally, as the expert explained, the shell remains did not show any traces that would be consistent with it having 'penetrated' the asphalt. The only damage looked as if it had been inflicted with a file.

Based on all those elements,Mladics expert witness concluded that the shell that exploded in the Markale Town Market on 5 February 1994 hadn't been fired from somewhere else. On the contrary, according to Subotic, the projectile had been planted there and was activated on the ground using electricity or a TNT charge. The presiding judge asked the expert how the people in the market place could not have noticed the shell that had allegedly been planted there. The judge asked how could the stall workers and shoppers have just stood there waiting for the shell to explode, if it was there in plain sight. The shell was placed on some sort of a stand, with a box on top; for Gods sake, it is a market place, then it becomes invisible, the witness explained.

As the hearing drew to a close, the witness began presenting her criticism of the prosecution's investigation into the second shelling of Markale on 28 August 2015 and its allegations that Mladic's troops were again to blame.