With the evidence of Norwegian officer Per Oien, Ratko Mladic’s defense has tried to deny he was responsible for the second Markale incident in August 1995. According to Oien, in their first report UN military observers stated that they couldn’t establish which side had fired five mortar shells in the direction of Markale. Oien didn’t know if that report was later changed
After a one-month break, Ratko Mladic’s defense case continued today. The former commander of the VRS Main Staff is on trial for genocide and other crimes in BH. The defense called Per Oien, a Norwegian officer who served as a senior UN military observer in Sarajevo, in a bid to contest the allegation that the Serb side was responsible for the Markale incident on 28 August 1995, in which 43 Sarajevo citizens were killed and 75 were injured.
Lieutenant colonel Oien served in Sarajevo from March to October 1995. On the day of the incident, about 20 minutes before the detonation Oien drove past Markale on his way to the UNMO headquarters located in the PTT building. When he learned about the incident, Oien went to the crime scene to make sure that the investigation team would be able to do its job, and then he returned to the headquarters. He did not take part in the investigation.
Mladic’s defense counsel Dragan Ivetic focused on the first investigation report drafted by the UN military observers, submitted to the UN command in Zagreb submitted at midnight of 28 August 1995 and signed by Captain Ford. The report states that it was impossible to establishe which side had fired the projectile. As far as Oien knew, the report was never amended. As he explained, the military observers didn’t carry out any other investigations. Ivetic read out in court the transcript of the evidence of General Nicolai, former chief of staff in UNPROFOR. General Nicolai spoke about a meeting of high-ranking UN officers at which they discussed the preliminary results of the investigation. Nicolai said at that time that the investigation could not rule out the possibility that the Bosniaks had fired the shells at their own people, but he was quick to add that he never saw evidence that would lead to such a conclusion.
Oien explained how in June 1995 he was informed that a man by the name of Hansen, one of his subordinate officers, had gone to see a BH Army liaison officer to tell him to ‘stop shelling their own people’, adding that his subordinate's actions had been stupid. The Bosnian side then declared the officer a persona non grata and he was forced to leave. In the cross-examination Adam Weber noted that the officer was in fact Thomas Hansen from Denmark. In one his reports Hansen noted that a modified air bomb that hit the TV building on 28 June 1995 had been fired from the BH Army positions.
Prosecutor Weber went on to quote from a Sarajevo-Romanija Corps report of 30 June 1995, signed by General Dragomir Milosevic, in which he relays Mladic’s congratulations to the Serb artillery on their ‘accurate response to Muslim attacks’ and specifically on the direct hit at the Sarajevo TV building. The document describes the TV building as the ‘hub of media lies about the just struggle of the Serbian people’.
The defense tried to play down the importance of that prosecution exhibit. The report, the defense suggested, showed that ‘many home-made bombs’ were used in that period.
After the Norwegian officer completed his evidence the trial was once again adjourned for the time being. Mladic’s defense has problems locating the handful ofdefense witnesses who are still to testify and bringing them to The Hague.
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