What did Dr. Zoran Stankovic tell Ratko Mladic in October 1995 about the possibility that he might get the Tribunal's indictment against the general withdrawn? Mladic described the meeting in detail in his diary and recorded it on audio tape. In the cross-examination of the defense’s expert the prosecutor played the recording

Zoran Stanković witness in Ratko Mladić's trialZoran Stanković witness in Ratko Mladić's trial

Zoran Stankovic, a forensic expert from Belgrade, completed his evidence at Ratko Mladic’s trial today. He had been asked by the defense to analyze the report written by British pathologist John Clark on the post mortems of the bodies recovered from the Tomasica mass grave near Prijedor. Also, Stankovic reviewed and commented on the late Dr. Dusan Dunjic’s report on the exhumations of mass graves in the Srebrenica area.

In the final part of the cross-examination, the prosecutor referred to Stankovic’s meeting with Mladic on 9 October 1995 in Banja Luka. In July 1995, the Office of the Prosecutor issued the first indictment against Mladic. At first, Stankovic denied that he had told Mladic he would try to persuade his British connections to have the indictment against him withdrawn. ‘I am just small fry,I couldn’t have said something like that’, noted the expert witness. He likewise denied that he had discussed with Mladic the possibility that he might end up sentenced to life in prison.

This prompted the prosecutor to play an audio recording of the meeting. Stankovic can be heard telling Mladic that ‘life sentence’ was looming. He would meet with some ‘very influential people’ in London, Stankovic went on, try to get their help in ‘withdrawing everything we need to withdraw, so that come tomorrow you can move freely, that you are not declared or called a war criminal'. In a bid to explain the glaring discrepancy between the audio tape and what he told the prosecutor and the judges, Stankovic said that he couldn’t readily remember ‘all the details’. Also, the expert witness noted that he was simply acting as a ‘courier’ between Mladic and some ‘influential people’ in journalist Nora Beloff’s circle who were willing to help the accused Bosnian Serb commander-in-chief.

At one point in the recording, Stankovic says ‘we have to collect the information which will contradict the accusations against us'. Judge Flugge asked Stankovic who he had meant when he had said‘we’. Stankovic explained that in his view the indictment didn’t only charge Mladic with crimes: it also indicted his soldiers. This prompted the judge to note that Stankovic was also a soldier and it would therefore appear as if the witness felt he had to defend the armed forces against the accusations. Asked how this could be reconciled with Stankovic's supposed role as an objective expert witness, Stankovic replied that he did not intend to defend the Serb army or its commander but ‘the truth stemming out of generally accepted forensic findings'.

After Stankovic completed his testimony, the defense called Dr. Svetlana Radovanovic, a demography expert. She was asked to write a critique of the expert report authored by the prosecution’s expert Ewa Tabeau. In her report Tabeau analyzed the number of victims recovered from the Tomasica mass grave, their identification, the cause of death and links to the victims listed in the annex to the indictment against Ratko Mladic.

While preparing her ‘counter-report’ Dr. Radovanovic spent some time in The Hague in January 2016 and was able to examined the prosecution materials. Dr. Radovanovic complained that she didn’t get everything she had requested. She also noted that she was not allowed to copy and take out of the Tribunal's premises an integrated mortality data base. She wanted to study it at home in more detail. The judges were surprised that the defense hadn’t raised the issue with the Trial Chamber to ask for the judges' help.

Dr. Radovanovic will continue her evidence tomorrow.