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11 August 2015

Mladic Witness: Bosnian Serb Army ‘Didn’t Destroy Mosques’

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH The Hague
At the trial of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic, the defence sought to prove that mosques weren’t blown up using military methods during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mladic’s trial resumed on Monday in The Hague after its summer break with testimony from Dragic Gojkovic, a former artillery commander in the Bosnian Serb Army’s First Krajina Corps, who told the UN-backed war crimes court that mosques were brought down “without expertise… with too much explosive”, contravening military procedures.

Gojkovic was testifying as a defence expert on destroyed Muslim and Catholic religious buildings, as Mladic’s team sought to prove that the Bosnian Serb Army did not raze mosques during the 1992-95 war.

“I can assert that most of these buildings could have been brought down mechanically… There was no need for this destruction,” said Gojkovic.

He added that the mosques were destroyed in a “criminal manner, without order or system”.

“In most cases the attack was on the minaret and too much explosive was used, which was enough to destroy the entire building,” he said.

Former Bosnian Serb army commander Mladic is on trial for genocide in Srebrenica and several other municipalities, the persecution of non-Serbs across the country, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

The destruction of Muslim and Catholic religious buildings by Bosnian Serb forces was part of the persecution of non-Serbs, according to the indictment.

Earlier in the trial, prosecutors introduced into evidence a report by expert witness Andras Riedlmayer, who said that 94 mosques were destroyed during the war.

Gojkovic said that all the mosques listed in Riedlmayer’s report were destroyed without documentation and without using the expert procedures which the Bosnian Serb Army required in such cases.

Asked by Mladic’s lawyer Branko Lukic who would have seen an order to destroy a building, Gojkovic replied: “The commander of the artillery… Such an order could not bypass the position I held during the war.”

He added that he could not find a single order for the destruction of mosques in Riedlemayer’s report or in his own archives.

The trial continues on Tuesday.
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