Mile Poparic, Ratko Mladic's expert for weapons and military equipment continued his evidence today. Discussing the sniper attacks on Sarajevo citizens, Poparic claimed that the Bosnian Serb Army wasn't responsible for those attacks. He is shifting the blame on the BH Army. Even if the Bosniaks did not actually fire the shots, the civilian casualties were collateral damage in the cross-fire, Poparic claimed

Mile Poparic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialMile Poparic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

The defense's military expert Mile Poparic continued today his evidence at Ratko Mladic's trial. Poparic denied that the Bosnian Serb Army was responsible for sniper attacks on Sarajevo civilians during the four war years. Presenting his findings on several incidents listed in the indictment, Poparic clearly implied that the BH Army was responsible for the attacks, not Mladic's troops. At best, the citizens of Sarajevo were killed when they were caught in the cross-fire.

The witness spoke about the attack in which Munira Zametica was killed on 11 July 1993 at the Dobrinja river bank. He had already addressed the incident yesterday. Poparic recalled what the witnesses had said: that they could hear fire from the positions held by both armies in that part of the city before the incident. That, in Poparic's view, clearly shows that Zametica was caught in the cross-fire. The victim was shot twice in the same spot, leading Poparic to conclude that the weapon was an automatic rifle, not a sniper. The fatal injuries were caused when a burst was fired at the concrete river bed; some rounds ricocheted and hit Zametica. This would mean that for Poparic it was more logical for a burst of gunfire to ricochet and hit the same spot than for a sniper to hit the same sport twice.

Poparic then spoke about another incident, which occurred on 3 September 1993, when Nafa Taric and her eight-year old daughter Elma were hit by the same bullet in Ivana Krndelja Street. The mother and daughter were fired on when they went to buy school books for Elma, just as they were passing a container used as a sniper screen. Poparic presented a mathematic calculation to prove that the Serb army was not responsible for the incident. A bullet fired from a distance of 680 m, from the nearest Serb position, would take 1.2 seconds to reach the target. It took Nafa Taric and her daughter 1.02 seconds to get from the shield to the location where they were shot, Poparic explained. The difference of 0.018 seconds meant that the sniper didn't have time to aim but had to 'fire the shot in advance'. The judges then decided to ask a few questions.

Asked how he got the time of 1.02 seconds, Poparic explained that he calculated the time it took for Nafa Taric to take one step using software developed by Beograd Film and the video recording made by the prosecution in which Nafa Taric showed an OTP investigator how she had been moving. As it turned out, Nafa Taric didn't take a step straight from the shelter to the site when she was hit. Also, it is not clear whether at the time of the incident she took two steps or one to cover the distance, or if her child may have made her move a bit slower. As Poparic explained, he used the average speed of walk. Based on Nafa Taric's statement, Poparic assessed that she and her daughter walked 'in a carefree way'.Asked how she could have been carefree walking by a container that shielded her from sniper attacks, Poparic replied that Taric said in her evidence before the Tribunal that until then civilians had never been attacked at that site.

As the hearing continued, the witness suggested that the BH Army was responsible for the incidents in which Ramiza Kundo was hit in the left leg in Brijesko Brdo Street on 2 November 1993, and the attack in which Alma Cutina was wounded in the right leg on 8 October 1994 in a tram in Zmaja od Bosne Street. According to Poparic, 16-year old Sanela Muratovic was shot in the right shoulder on 26 June 1994 in cross-fire.

Mile Poparic continues his evidence tomorrow.