Former British officer, a UNPROFOR member, said at the trial of Ratko Mladic that there were different ‘spins’ after the first attack on Markale market on 5 February 1994. Based on the information he had, the witness concluded that the Bosnian Serb army ‘most likely’ wasn’t responsible for the massacre

Ratko Mladic in the courtroomRatko Mladic in the courtroom

A man who served in UNPROFOR in Sarajevo testified as Ratko Mladic’s defense witness under the pseudonym GRM 097 with image and voice distortion today. The witness’s claims fit well into the defense case that the Bosnian Serb army under the command of the accused was not responsible for artillery and sniper attacks on the Sarajevo citizens. The Muslim side, the witness noted, was responsible as it was ‘prone’ to attacking its own population to provoke an international intervention against Serbs.

Despite the fact that for the most part the hearing went on in closed session, in his statement to the defense and his evidence, the witness focused on the incident when the 'Muslim forces' purportedly fired on their own citizens on the Markale market. The shell hit the market on 5 February 1994: 66 persons were killed and at least 140 were wounded in the incident. After the attack, the witness heard that Serbs were blamed for the attack. However, the witness clarified, soon afterwards, UNPROFOR began receiving new reports that cast serious doubts on such claims.

There were many ‘spins’ at the time, the witness recalled, from the allegation that a shell exploded on the ground, or was thrown out of a building or fired from the BH Army-controlled territory. According to the witness, he found the last claim the most likely: because of the proximity and height of the buildings around the town market, the projectile had to have been fired from close range, from a part of the city under the Bosnian control. The witness heard that a group of Mujahideen from Sarajevo were responsible for the massacre although admittedly he never saw a single Mujahideen fighter in Sarajevo. All that led the witness to conclude that ‘most likely’ the Serb side was not responsible for the first Markale attack.

Apart from ‘self-shelling’, the Bosnian side tried to provoke an international intervention, the witness claimed. To achieve that goal, the Bosnian side would open fire on the Serb positions close to civilian facilities such as hospitals and schools to force the Serbs to respond and attack Sarajevo citizens. In the spring of 1995, NATO did intervene against Mladic’s army prompting the Serbs to take UNPROFOR members hostage. The UNPROFOR staff were treated as a sort of prisoners of war because they were considered enemy soldiers. The witness stressed that the hostages were ‘treated well’.

The former British UNPROFOR member will continue his evidence tomorrow.