Jezik / Language:
4 June 2013

Logic behind Placing Snipers

Radoša Milutinović BIRN BiH Haag

During the continuation of Radovan Karadzic’s trial, Hague Tribunal prosecutors deny a testimony by Defence’s ballistic expert Mile Poparic, who said that the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, was not responsible for 17 sniper attacks against civilians in Sarajevo.

According to the charges against Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska and supreme Commander of its Army, the attacks and long-lasting shelling were part of a campaign aimed at terrorising the local population in Sarajevo, which the VRS implemented in the period from 1992 to 1995.

Commenting on Poparic’s allegation that Dzenana Sokolovic was wounded and that her seven-year old son Nermin Divovic was killed by the same bullet, which hit him after having penetrated through Sokolovic’s body, in cross fire in Sarajevo downtown area on November 18, 1994, Prosecutor Caroline Edgerton presented the witness with an UNPROFOR report indicating that the bullet was fired by VRS snipers in Grbavica.

According to the same document, the gunfire that could be heard in a footage taken at the crime scene, which Poparic used to support his allegations, originated from the French anti-sniper team, which had responded to fire opened from Serb positions.

Karadzic’s expert witness said that he had no reason to doubt the reliability of the UNPROFOR’s report, but he stuck to his allegations that many contradictions were present in the mentioned case and that it was impossible to determine what really happened.

After having been reminded by the Prosecutor that Sokolovic herself said that the bullet came from the Metalka building in Grbavica neighbourhood, where VRS snipers were located, the witness said that she had given several different statements.

Although Edgerton quoted UNPROFOR’s reports, saying that the bullets fired on trams in Sarajevo downtown area in a few incidents in 1994 and 1995 had come from Serb positions across the River Miljacka, Poparic said that the marks on the trams and ground indicated that the bullets came from the Executive Council building, which was under the control of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ABiH.

The Prosecutor also commented on the ballistic expert’s allegation that the bullet, which killed 46-year old Munira Zametica, while she was fetching water from the river in Dobrinja neighbourhood on July 11, 1993, could not have come from the Orthodox Church bell tower, because it was not logical to place a sniper on the tower. 

Reading parts of an ABiH document about VRS positions in that area, Edgerton said that not only a sniper, but an anti-aircraft machine gun was placed on the church tower.

Denying Poparic’s finding that the location at which Nafa Taric and her daughter Elma were wounded by one bullet on September 3, 1993 could not be seen from VRS positions, the Prosecutor showed a photograph, which, as she said, depicted “a clear line of visibility”. The Defence expert denied that.

The trial of Karadzic, who is also charged with genocide in Srebrenica, persecution of Muslims and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and taking international staff members hostage, is due to continue on June 5.

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