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Relevance for Mladic’s Case Questionable

3. July 2014.00:00
As the trial of Ratko Mladic continues, a Defence witness says that members of all ethnic groups were among soldiers of the Republika Srpska Army, deployed in the Sarajevo surroundings and that some of them were killed due to artillery and sniper attacks conducted by the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Witness Slobodan Tusevljak, former Commander of one of the squads with the First Sarajevo Motorized Brigade of VRS, said that more than 200 soldiers and several tens of civilians got killed in attacks by the Army of BiH on the road leading from Lukavica to Pale.

“People got killed in combat, but most were killed in sniper and artillery attacks. There is data about it, as well as a list of killed soldiers. More than 200 people were killed in that area,” Tusevljak said.

In a summary of his statement, which was read in the courtroom, Tusevljak said that he had never received an order to attack civilians in Sarajevo.

Mladic, former Commander of the VRS Main Headquarters, is charged with having terrorised citizens in Sarajevo through sniper and artillery attacks, as well as committed genocide in Srebrenica and seven other municipalities, persecution of Bosniak and Croat civilians and taking UNPROFOR members hostage.
Tusevljak said that there were Croat and Bosniak soldiers among his Squad members and that a Croat was commander of the Squad at a certain point of time.

When asked by Trial Chamber Chairman Alphonse Orie why the fact that some of VRS members were Croats and Bosniaks was relevant for Mladic’s trial, Defence attorney Miodrag Stojanovic said that the fact that the VRS was a multi-ethnic army “indicates that its members were just defending their homes”.

“Its composition says that they fought for defending their homes and that Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks were victims of the Army of BiH. Considering the accusations about the terror against citizens in Sarajevo, we want to demonstrate that the terror was not such as described in the indictment and that terror was committed against Sarajevo residents, who failed to accept the political stands of the then Bosnian leadership. We are trying to prove that Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks, who were present there, suffered equally,” Stojanovic explained.

Judge Orie said that he was “not sure” that he agreed with Mladic’s attorney.

“The Chamber is not fully convinced that what you are saying is true. It is true that soldiers sometimes suffer during a war, but when a soldier gets killed in a war, it is not necessarily considered a crime irrespective of whether we like it or not. This is the reality of war,” Orie said.

The trial of Mladic is due to continue on Friday, July 4, when the examination of witness Tusevljak will continue.

Denis Džidić

This post is also available in: Bosnian