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War Crimes

Siege of Sarajevo ‘Was War, Not Chess’

A former Bosnian Serb officer told the trial of his military commander Ratko Mladic that his unit didn’t deploy snipers against Sarajevo residents but did use heavy artillery to defend Serbs.

Justice Report
BIRN

Sarajevo

Ratko Mladic in court.

Defence witness Velimir Dunjic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Igman Brigade, told Mladic’s trial at the Hague Tribunal last week that his unit only defended the six Sarajevo municipalities in which “tens of thousands of Serbs” lived during military offensives by Bosniak forces in 1992 and 1993.

The witness denied using snipers, claiming that the terrain was not suitable, but confirmed that the brigade fired high-calibre artillery grenades at targets in the city “because it was a war, not a chess game”. However he said that the artillery was not used disproportionately.

Dunjic denied the prosecutor’s allegation that the grenades hit civilian buildings as well. “We opened fire at our enemy, its units and military positions,” he said.

During cross-examination, the prosecutor noted that Stanislav Galic, commander of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, who was Dunjic’s superior, accused him of the disproportionate use of artillery while testifying at the trial of Radovan Karadzic.

Dunjic responded by saying that he had never heard this before and that “on the basis of documents, one can see that I never received a warning for using artillery in a disproportionate manner”.

“In case of an attack, I used all resources to destroy the enemy – that is true… I do not know what disproportionate use of weapons is,” he said.

Ratko Mladic is charged with having terrorised the population of Sarajevo with a lengthy sniper and artillery campaign. He is also on trial for genocide in Srebrenica and seven other Bosnian municipalities, persecution of Bosniaks and Croats, and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

At the end of his testimony, Dunjic thanked the Tribunal for having allowed him to speak in defence of “great Serb hero Ratko Mladic”.

Presiding judge Alphons Orie reprimanded him, reminding him that Mladic was charged with war crimes.

The trial continues this week.

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