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15 September 2015

Former UN Observer Says Markale Market Bombing Caused by Bosnian Army Shelling

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH The Hague

A former UN military observer testifying at the Ratko Mladic trial said he discovered a Bosnian Army mortar position believed to be a source of the grenade attack on the Markale Market in Sarajevo in 1995.

Mladic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, has been charged with responsibility for the Markale Market bombing which took place in Sarajevo on August 28, 1995. The attack killed 43 civilians and wounded 75 more. The Markale Market attack was part of a continuous campaign of shelling and sniping in Sarajevo between 1992-1995.

Mladic has also been charged with genocide in Srebrenica and other municipalities, the persecution of non-Serbs, and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

Former UN military observer Paul Conway said he was stationed at a checkpoint south of Sarajevo, between Bosnian Army and Bosnian Serb Army positions. Conway said he heard several muted detonations on August 28, 1995. He said he saw smoke rising near the Markale Market soon afterwards.

“I couldn’t establish where the fire came from,” Conway said.

In December 1995, Conway said he discovered a mortar position of the Bosnian Army south of Sarajevo. He said there were at least four mortars directed towards the city. That position was approximately one kilometer from the Markale Market, Conway claimed.

He said that on the morning of the Markale Market attack he and his colleagues didn’t register any shelling from the Bosnian Serb side.

During cross-examination, prosecutors claimed that the sound of 120 millimeter mortar shells detonating couldn’t have been muted and that the explosion must have been heard by both UN observers and citizens.

Conway argued that the detonation at the Markale Market could have been quieter because of the numerous topographic challenges of Sarajevo. He said it was difficult to establish the source of the detonation for the same reason.

Asked if the detonation of the grenade could have been hidden, Conway said this wouldn’t have been possible. He said the detonation of mortars is quieter if they go off in a confined area, such as an old quarry where he said he saw Bosnian army mortars in the winter of 1995.

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