Ratko Mladic ‘Terrorised Sarajevo with Snipers’

A former UN peacekeeping forces official told the Hague Tribunal that Bosnian Serb forces under Mladic’s command targeted civilians with artillery and sniper fire.The Bosnian Serb Army “constantly shelled and conducted sniper attacks against civilians in Sarajevo” said Anthony Banbury, who served with the UN protection force UNPROFOR in the besieged capital from April 1994 to May 1995.

He said that by staging the attacks and restricting the delivery of aid supplies to Sarajevo, the Bosnian Serbs “physically and mentally terrorised civilians”.

According to Banbury, Mladic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic had firm control over the attacks and the passage of humanitarian convoys to the city.

Mladic is on trial for terrorising civilians in Sarajevo, committing genocide in Srebrenica and seven other municipalities, expelling Bosniaks and Croats and taking international peacekeepers hostage during the conflict between 1992 and 1995.

During his testimony, Banbury said that Mladic and Karadzic used the siege of Sarajevo to put pressure on the Bosnian authorities and responded to offensives by the Bosnian Army with more intensive attacks and blockades.

The witness said that Mladic and Karadzic used these powers as a negotiating tool during peace talks to achieve concessions from the Sarajevo authorities and international mediators.

Banbury said that Mladic once admitted to UNPROFOR commander Rupert Smith in 1995 that the “intensified sniper attacks” in Sarajevo came in retribution for “Serb victims” killed during an offensive by the Bosnian Army in the Bihac area of northern Bosnia.

The Hague prosecution this week also called former Sarajevo police ballistics expert Mirza Sabljica, who testified about numerous investigations into mortar and sniper attacks which he participated in from 1993 to 1996.

Sabljica said that it was not possible to determine the exact location from which the mortars were fired or which of the two sides fired them, just the direction from which they came.

“Considering the methods we used, we were never able to precisely determine the location from which the grenades were fired. We never gave rise to prejudice by saying that a grenade was fired from a certain position held by a specific army,” said Sabljica.

The prosecution alleges that, in most of the incidents, they were fired from positions held by Bosnian Serb forces.

The witness also said that after the war, police discovered “sniper nests” and bullets for both sniper rifles and automatic weapons in four tower blocks in Grbavica, a Sarajevo district held by Bosnian Serb forces during the war.

“We visited those building, because our findings indicated that sniper bullets fired at trams, cars and pedestrians might have come from that area during the conflict in Sarajevo,” Sabljica said.

“It turned out… that we were pretty precise,” he said.

Mladic’s trial will continue on Monday.

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