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1 July 2015
News

Mladic Trial: Mass Grave Victims ‘Were Civilians’

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH The Hague
A prosecution expert told the trial of Ratko Mladic that around 300 victims found in the Tomasica mass grave near Prijedor were not wearing uniforms and many had been shot in the head.
Pathology expert John Clark told former Bosnian Serb military chief Mladic’s trial at the Hague Tribunal on Wednesday that 293 bodies were exhumed at Tomasica, of which 275 were whole, while the others were in pieces.

He said all the victims had “everyday clothes” and “there were no military uniforms, and no boots”.

The prosecution is attempting to prove that the victims in Tomasica were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in 1992, in a campaign of persecution which it claims reached the scale of genocide in Prijedor.

Mladic is also on trial, as commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, of genocide in Srebrenica, taking UN peacekeepers hostage and terrorising the population of Sarajevo.

The UN-backed court decided last year to allow the prosecution, which had already finished presenting its evidence against Mladic, to call a series of new witnesses to testify about Tomasica.

According to Clark, a large number of the Tomasica victims had been shot. He said bullet holes were found on 283 bodies - 97 per cent of those exhumed.

“There was a surprisingly large number of bullet shots to the head, around 35 per cent, which lead me to conclude that this body part was targeted… This means the wounds are not accidental,” said Clark.

During cross-examination, Mladic’s lawyer Branko Lukic suggested that Clark “cannot exclude the fact that some of the victims died in combat”.

“That is true, I cannot rule that out,” replied the witness.

Lukic also said that the multi-layered clothing found on some of the bodies “was unusual for July [when the killings took place], unless they wanted to sleep outside”.

“That is true for some, but others had light clothes, most of them just a shirt…There were in some cases situations of too much clothes for July, but those were exemptions,” Clark responded.

The trial continues on Thursday.
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