In the cross-examination, Russian colonel Andrei Demurenko complained about the prosecutors ‘skillfully confusing’ him with their ‘sophisticated questions’. Demurenko argued that he ‘cannot follow their logic all the time’ because he is just a soldier. The Trial Chamber didn’t allow the witness to shake hands with the accused Mladic

Andrei Demurenko, defense witness at the trial of Ratko Mladić Andrei Demurenko, defense witness at the trial of Ratko Mladić

The trial of Ratko Mladic continued today with the cross-examination of Russian colonel Andrei Demurenko. The prosecution asked the defense witness about his private investigation of the Markale incident on 28 August 1995, in which 43 Sarajevo citizens were killed and 75 injured. Prosecutor Tieger highlighted the discrepancies between what the witness claimed today and what he had stated in his previous public appearances: first in 1995 in front of the AP news agency cameras and then at the Tribunal as he testified at the trials of Dragomir Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic.

In a TV interview in which he announced the conclusions of his investigation, Demurenko said that he and his team visited the entire line from which the Markale shell may have been fired. On the rocky and steep terrain they were unable to find a single location where one could position a mortar. Demurenko had already presented the same conclusion in his evidence at the trial of General Milosevic. However, the Trial Chamber in that case ruled that Demurenko’s findings were based on a visit of an area along the firing line which was far too narrow to allow for such conclusions. Later, in his evidence in Radovan Karadzic’s defense the Russian colonel changed his evidence, claiming that he and his team had visited a ‘wider area’, about 100 meters from the line, but were again unable to find any positions where a 120-mm mortar could be mounted.

The prosecutor asked Demurenko to explain what exactly he had in mind when he said to Karadzic’s defense that the Trial Chamber sitting in the Milosevic case ‘mistakenly’ rejected the conclusions of his investigation. Demurenko told him he was still convinced that it was the case. As he explained, he himself was confused at times because the prosecutors kept asking him ‘sophisticated and skilled questions’. ‘Being just a soldier, I was not able to follow their logic all the time’, the defense witness noted.

The prosecutor stressed that Demurenko applied wrong firing tables when he tried to establish possible mortar positions. Demurenko said ‘it is immaterial’, and the most important thing was the firing line that he searched in detail. The witness emphasized several times that he had done it ‘on foot’. When Judge Flugge asked him about it, Demurenko said that he had walked six kilometers from Markale, only to state a bit later that he had driven part of the way in an armored vehicle and walked the rest.

During the cross-examination, Demurenko complained several times about the problems with interpretation. The English word you in Russian could refer both to the singular and plural and was confusing, Demurenko said. He was never sure if the questions pertained to him or to his whole team. When asked if he remembered the photos taken in the course of the investigation that he handed over when he testified in the Milosevic case, Demurenko again voiced the same complaint. He asked whether the question referred to him or his entire team, and Judge Flugge asked Demurenko who had actually testified in that case. ‘Who testified? You yourself or your whole team?’, Judge Flugge asked him. Judge Orie cautioned Demurenko not to be obstructive.

As the hearing drew to a close, Demurenko asked the judges for permission to ‘shake hands’ with Ratko Mladic after completing his evidence. As Demurenko explained, ‘I know I won’t meet with Mladic again’. The judges denied Demurenko’s request, stressing that no contact was allowed in the courtroom between witnesses and the accused.

The prosecutor will complete Andrei Demurenko’s cross-examination tomorrow.