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16 July 2015
News

Mladic Defense Witness Claims Sarajevo was “Divided, Not Under Siege”

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH The Hague
Zdravko Salipur, a former member of the Serb Democratic Party, testified in defense of Ratko Mladic at the Hague Tribunal. Salipur claimed that Sarajevo was divided during the Bosnian war, but wasn’t under siege.
Mladic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, has been charged with the wartime persecution of Bosniaks and Croats across Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their persecution reached the scale of genocide in several municipalities. He has also been charged with genocide in Srebrenica, terrorizing the local population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

Salipur, who worked in the Serb municipality of Novo Sarajevo, described wartime Sarajevo as rife with ethnic tension.

“Sarajevo was indeed divided, that’s the correct term...it had been divided from the start,” Salipur said.

When the prosecution presented Salipur with certain documents, he confirmed that the Bosnian Serb leadership wanted to partition the city.

The prosecution then played a recording of an intercepted conversation between former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic and an official from the municipality of Novo Sarajevo. They discuss the ethnic partition of the city, based on where Bosniak Muslims live. Salipur described their discussion as a “childish conversation,” because “both men knew nothing about Sarajevo.”

Karadzic is on trial in a separate case for the same crimes as Mladic.

Salipur denied that non-Serbs were expelled from the Serb-controlled area of Grbavica in Sarajevo. The prosecution then read a UN report from September 1992, which stated that 300 Bosniaks were expelled from Grbavica.

“I never heard about this and it didn’t happen in Grbavica while I was there,” Salipur said. He added that the Bosnian Army had snipers and artillery which killed hundreds of Serb civilians in Grbavica, and described Grbavica as “hell on earth.”

Salipur was the 170th witness to testify in Mladic’s defense. The trial will be suspended until August 10, for a summer recess.
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