Karadzic challenges prosecution witness

Wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on Tuesday disputed the testimony of a prosecution witness at his war crimes trial. The witness claimed Bosnian Serb forces, apart from shelling the capital Sarajevo during the 1992-1995 war, killed civilians by sniper fire.

Patrick van der Weijden, a Dutch expert on sniper fire, told the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia he had studied 17 sniper incidents in Sarajevo, in which people were killed or wounded, and concluded that the fire was coming from Bosnian Serb positions.

But pressed by Karadzic, Van der Weijden, conceded he wasn’t entirely sure where the Serb positions were in relation to those of the Bosnian Muslim Army.

Cross-examining the witness, Karadzic focused on the incident of 18 November 1994, in which a women Dzenana Sokolovic was wounded and her son, Nermin Divovic was killed by the same bullet.

According to the witness, the shot was most likely fired from the “Metalka” building, held by the Serbs. But pressed by Karadzic, Van der Weijden said it could have been fired from another location, including the street where the victims were hit.

Karadzic said it was unlikely the same bullet hit Sokolovic and killed her son, but the witness replied he was “told so” by the court prosecutors. Karadzic said it has been determined that Sokolovic’s entry and exit wounds were at the same height, suggesting that the shot didn’t come from a tall building.

Karadzic insisted that the entry wound was on Sokolovic’s left side, which meant that the shot came from Muslim positions near the Holiday Inn hotel.

“Yes, if the wound was on the left side,” the witness conceded.

Karadzic, who has been charged on eleven counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, is basing his defence on the claim that Bosnian Muslim forces killed their own people to put the blame on Serbs and trigger international intervention.

Karadzic indictment is focusing on the shelling of Sarajevo and a massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims in eastern town of Srebrenica in July 1995, allegedly committed by the forces under his command.

Karadzic has denied the charges and said he would ask the court to strike out from the indictment all the sniping incidents, because he wasn’t allowed enough time to cross-examine Van der Weijden.

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