In the cross-examination of Dr. Zoran Stankovic, a forensic medicine expert from Belgrade, the prosecutor highlighted the inconsistencies between his evidence in Ratko Mladic’s defense and the claims he made when he testified in other cases in The Hague. The prosecutor also stressed that the accused and the witness were ‘close’

Zoran Stanković, witnessZoran Stanković, witness

In the cross-examination of Zoran Stankovic, forensic medicine expert from Belgrade, prosecutor Jon McDonald highlighted the inconsistencies between his evidence in Ratko Mladic’s defense and the claims he made when he testified in other cases before the Tribunal.

The prosecutor addressed the defense’s allegation that blindfolds found on victims from the Srebrenica mass graves were in fact bandanas worn in combat by the BH Army fighters. Stankovic had told the defense counsel that such strips of cloth may have slipped down from the forehead to the eyes of the victims as soft tissue decomposed. This prompted the prosecutor to remind the witness of his testimony in Radislav Krstic’s defense and in the Seselj case, when Stankovic did not indicate that this was possible. On the contrary, on those occasions the witness explained that the strips of cloth on the victims’ eyes and hands and injuries to soft tissue and bones were ‘a certain sign’ that the victims had been captured and executed.

As the prosecutor noted, Stankovic was inconsistent when it came to the criticism of British pathologist Dr. John Clark, especially as he had himself done things he criticized Dr. Clark for. In the examination-in-chief, Dr. Stankovic said he couldn’t believe that Dr. Clark would ‘stoop so low’ as to take photos of post mortems in Tomasica himself. At the same time, on at least one occasion the witness did the same thing, the prosecutor alleged. Stankovic confirmed that he had taken photos of the victims while conducting post mortems in Zvornik. It was wartime and he had been forced to do his job in poor conditions, the witness explained.

Prosecutor McDonald put it to the witness that he was ‘close’ with the accused Mladic. Stankovic said he had met Mladic in 1992 in Sarajevo and then encountered him the second time ‘by chance’ in Vogosca. Their third encounter was after the death of Mladic’s daughter Ana. The witness brought Mladic the bullet and a lock of Ana’s hair. After that, according to Stankovic, he and Mladic met about 10 times. The prosecutor noted that Stankovic also met Mladic a few months after the indictment had been issued against the general in The Hague. More specifically, the witness and Mladic met on 9 October 1995 in Banja Luka.

At first, Stankovic couldn’t remember the meeting or the fact that he had asked Mladic to meet him. This prompted the prosecutor to read out the relevant parts from Mladic’s war diary which confirm the allegation. Stankovic denied that he had discussed the indictment with Mladic and that he had promised he would do all he could to defend Mladic against the charges and ‘prevent a life sentence’. The witness denied he had ever discussed the issue with the British intelligence service on a visit to London. As Stankovic explained, he had been invited to come to London by Nora Beloff. During the war, Beloff purportedly worked for the British intelligence service.

The prosecutor confronted the witness with an audio recording of the meeting in Banja Luka where Stankovic and Mladic were heard discussing the indictment. In the recording, Stankovic says that he will try to have the charges against Mladic dropped, that he was in London where he spoke to the British intelligence chief. Mladic recorded all his meetings on a voice recorder and the tapes were recovered when his Belgrade house was searched.

Zoran Stankovic will continue his evidence on Monday, 25 April 2016.