Mladic’s Trial: Sarajevo Civilians ‘Targeted By Snipers’

An expert witness told the Hague Tribunal trial of Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic that Sarajevo residents could have been shot from his troops’ positions.The prosecution’s expert witness on snipers, Patrick van der Weijden, concluded that in 17 incidents in which residents of the Bosnian capital were targeted during the siege of the city, the bullets could have been fired from Bosnian Serb positions.

Van der Weijden made his conclusions after visits to Sarajevo in 2006 and 2009, during which he analysed the origins of the sniper fire using witness testimonies.

He also said he believed that civilians were deliberately targeted.

Mladic listened to the witness’s testimony to the end, although at the beginning of the session he complained he didn’t feel well and asked to be taken to hospital, accusing the Hague Tribunal of not being a court but a “corrupted group”.

Mladic is charged with terrorising civilians in the Bosnian capital with prolonged shelling and sniper fire campaigns, as well as genocide in Srebrenica and another seven municipalities, the expulsion of Bosniaks and Croats, and taking international peacekeepers hostage.

Van der Weijden said that a shot which on November 18, 1994, killed seven-year old Nermin Divovic and wounded his mother Dzenana Sokolovic could have been fired from the Metalka building in the Grbavica district where, according to the indictment against Mladic, Bosnian Serb snipers were positioned.

The indictment said that the same bullet first injured the boy’s mother, going through her stomach, before hitting her son in the head and killing him.

The prosecution expert said he had established that shots fired at a tram in front of the Holiday Inn hotel on October 8, 1994 could have come from Bosnian Serb positions either at Metalka or at Sarajevo’s Jewish cemetery.

Van der Weijden made similar conclusions about the sources of sniper fire in several other cases: the wounding of three-year-old Anisa Pita on December 13, 1992, the killing of Munira Zametica while she was fetching water on July 11, 1993, and the wounding of 14-year old Tarik Zunic on March 6, 1995.

During the cross-examination, Mladic’s lawyer, Dragan Ivetic, contested van der Weijden’s credentials as a sniper expert and the methodology he had used.

Mladic attended the hearing to the end despite earlier demanding to be hospitalised.

“I feel my health is endangered and I need hospital and treatment,” Mladic had stated in the morning.

“I weakened a lot in the last 10 to 15 days, I lost my appetite… I cannot endure this. It’s better for me to go there and lie down, to die, than to be here and listen to this NATO propaganda nonsense,” he said.

Mladic has complained on several previous occasions of high blood pressure and feeling unwell, but, according to the trial’s judge, Alphons Orie, medical examinations have shown he is not suffering from any illness which could prevent him from attending his trial.

The trial will resume on Friday.

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