Saturday, June 10, 2006

SERBS RESPONSIBLE FOR MARKALE MASSACRE, SARAJEVO

INTERNATIONAL COURT FINDS BOSNIAN SERBS RESPONSIBLE FOR MARKALE MASSACRE

THE HAGUE - A Bosnian Serb general was convicted Friday of running a two-year terror campaign against civilians in Sarajevo, unleashing sniper fire and shells that killed and wounded thousands in the Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) sector of the city.

Stanislav Galic was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the UN war crimes tribunal. The tribunal found that Galic ordered his troops to fire on civilians while they were going about their daily lives: shopping, tending gardens or fetching water from the river..Galic, 60, was the first suspect to be tried by the UN war crimes tribunal exclusively in connection with the 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital in the 1992-95 war.
It also was the first time the court dealt with the charge of terror, as defined in the 1949 Geneva Convention. The judges ruled that "the international tribunal does indeed have jurisdiction over the crime of attack on civilians" and the crime of terror, which has an "additional mental element.".Serb forces dug into surrounding hills and rained sniper and shell fire down on buses, trams, gardens and funerals, killing men, women and children.

The siege of Sarajevo claimed at least 10,500 lives, mostly of Bosniaks, including almost 1,800 children. Some 50,000 people were wounded during the siege, punctuated by atrocities such as mortar bomb attacks on a market and a soccer game.

Judges found General Stanislav Galic guilty of terrorizing the city's residents through a two-year campaign of shelling and sniping. The court convicted Galic on five counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. He was convicted of murder, inhumane acts and violence intended to spread terror among civilians.

In reading out the court's findings, Judge Alphons Orie said it was clear to the majority that the attacks against civilians could not have occurred without the will of corps commander General Stanislav Galic.."No civilian of Sarajevo was safe anywhere." - the presiding judge, Alphons Orie, said. ."The evidence as understood by the majority reveals that the campaign against civilians was intended primarily to terrorize the civilian population," the judge said. "He actually controlled the pace and scale of those crimes."

"It is clear that General Galic, through his orders and by other means acts of facilitation and encouragement, conducted the campaign of attacks," said judge Orie. "He did so with the primary aim to spread terror among the civilian population of Sarajevo."

The judge said that prosecutors proved beyond a reasonable doubt 18 of the 26 sniping incidents they charged and all five of the shellings. That includes the 1994 Sarajevo marketplace shelling (markale market massacre) in which 68 people were killed and more than 100 injured. It has been a controversial incident, with many Bosnian Serbs saying Bosniaks shelled themselves to gain world sympathy and get the Bosnian-Serb army in trouble.

But judges, who said they examined new evidence about the marketplace bombing, concluded that the mortar shell that caused the explosion was fired by the Bosnian Serbs.

Even if there were incidents where Bosniaks sometimes fired on themselves - as Bosnian Serb-General defense lawyers argued - judges found that that does not excuse the crimes committed against the city's Bosniaks.

Gen. Stanislav Galic commanded the 18,000-member Bosnian Serb army from September 1992 to August 1994 -- a period when close to 3,800 civilians were killed.

Instead of protecting the population of Sarajevo, the court found, Galic's forces brought terror and destruction on the city. In the summary of their verdict on Friday, the judges said civilians of the mostly Bosniak city had been deliberately fired on "while attending funerals, while in ambulances, trams and buses and while cycling." They were attacked while tending gardens or shopping in markets, the judges said, most of the time in daylight.

The encircled city, with more than 400,000 residents, was often short of food and other essentials.

As Bosnian Serb troops, aided by Yugoslav forces, shelled and sniped at the city from their mountaintop positions, with U.N. peacekeepers standing by powerless, the violence was broadcast on television and shocked the world. Finally, in August 1995, Western forces launched air strikes against Serb troops.

Human rights groups have said more than 11,000 people, including more than 1,700 children, were killed in Sarajevo. The siege tore up and depleted a city that long had a reputation as a civilized place where Muslims, Jews and Orthodox and Catholic Christians lived together for centuries.

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HELSINKI COMMITTE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN SERBIA (Excerpt from Dragoljub Todorovic's Burden of Crime: National Courts and Justice, dated 04/09/2002; Helsinki Chapter - No 51)

The Serb public opinion cherishes a stereotype that Bosniaks have stage-managed the Markale market massacre in Sarajevo. But at the trial of [Serb] General Stanislav Galic, the man in charge of the Sarajevo siege, the material evidence presented by the top international experts clearly showed that shelling of Markale and massacre of innocent Sarajevo denizens was committed by the Serb army in the surrounding hills. That fact was disclosed by all the international media, but the domestic ones failed to mention it.
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International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY)Milosevic Trial - The Hague - Court Room OneDay 273, 16 January 2004.

By: Judith Armatta

THE HAGUE - Berko Zecevic, an expert in designing ammunition who investigated the mortar shell that killed 68 and wounded 144 in Sarajevo's Markale Marketplace on February 5, 1994, concluded that the shell could only have come from the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) positions. His conclusion was presented in a report commissioned by the Office of the Prosecutor and introduced into evidence when he appeared in Court today. The source of the 120 millimeter mortar shell that exploded in the middle of the busy market has been a matter of serious contention since it occurred. Initially, members of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) said the shell was fired from Bosnian Government positions. From that, some concluded that the Bosnian Government was firing on its own people, to make it appear they were victims of Bosnian Serb aggression and gain international sympathy and, ultimately, international intervention on their behalf. A later, more indepth UNPROFOR report, however, noted a calculation error in the first UN report. Correcting the error led the UN to conclude that it was impossible to say which side had fired the shell.

Mr. Zecevic testified that, when he heard on television that authorities were unable to determine the source of the projectile, he offered his services as an expert to the judge investigating the incident. Working with two colleagues, their analysis revealed the direction from which the shell was fired and six possible locations from which it could have been fired (5 under VRS control and 1 under ABH (Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina) control). The site under ABH control was clearly visible to UNPROFOR personnel, who reported that no shell was fired from that position. The type of stabilizer fin (part of the projectile) found at the site was produced in one of two places, both under control of the VRS at the time. As a result of this and other technical measurements, Mr. Zecevic concluded the shell could only have come from one of the positions under VRS control.

While Mr. Zecevic's experience and expertise in ammunition design and testing was impressive, the Accused questioned his objectivity based on his having worked for the ABH until shortly before the massacre. Mr. Zecevic insisted he conducted a professional and objective analysis, which was fully supported by facts and calculations that could be checked by any expert in the field. He added that his assistance to the ABH ended in July of the previous year. Before that, he worked for 17 years in the Research and Development Section of a major munitions factory in Bosnia. The factory was part of the former federal Yugoslavia's interdependent military-industrial complex. When the JNA dissolved, the system was reorganized and Mr. Zecevic left.
An earlier witness, former UN officer David Howland, told the Court that UN investigations could not determine the source of the particular shell that exploded in the Markale Marketplace on February 5, 1994, but UN records showed that almost 100% of shells landing on the ABH side of the confrontation line were fired by the VRS. He also testified that, while the BHA sometimes provoked fire at civilian targets, it did not fire on its own people (the citizens of Sarajevo of all ethnicities).

During his cross examination, Milosevic read out a portion of the dissenting opinion in the Galic trial, where Judge Nieto-Navia concluded that the prosecution in that case had failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the Bosnian Serb forces were responsible for the shell that exploded in the Markale Marketplace on February 5, 1994. He found support for his conclusion in the Special UN Team's official findings communicated to the UN Security Council that "there is insufficient physical evidence to prove that one party fired the mortar bomb." As Judge May noted, that is one judge's view and nothing more. He might also have pointed out that the majority in the Galic case found beyond a reasonable doubt that the shell was deliberately fired from VRS-controlled territory, after extensively reviewing expert opinions, including Mr. Zecevic's and the UN's, as well as eye witness evidence.

The conclusions in the Galic trial are not binding on the judges in the Milosevic trial. Here, as there, the judges will have to make a thorough review and analysis of all evidence submitted -- by both the Prosecution and Defence -- before making up their own minds. The question remains whether the matter will ever be finally resolved.

Mr. Zecevic also provided expert testimony that the source of significant quantities and types of ammunition used by the VRS against the citizens of Sarajevo came from Serbia. His conclusion was based on an analysis of unexploded ordnance in Sarajevo. The Prosecution produced numerous documents, showing that Mr. Zecevic's former factory, military production enterprises in Serbia, the JNA/VJ and the VRS/RS took over and adapted the former federal Yugoslav military production network. Under it, as a number of the documents showed, Serbia and the JNA and its successor the VJ supplied weapons, ammunition and needed raw materials to the Bosnian Serbs. This practice violated the UN arms embargo. And, as Mr. Zecevic told the Court, "[I]t means that the country [Serbia/FRY - Federal Republic of Yugoslavia] was directly taking part in the killing of people who were unarmed," i.e. the citizens of Sarajevo where the unexploded ordnance was found. The documents, together with Mr. Zecevic's testimony, add yet more corroboration that Serbia was supporting the war by the RS against the Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Prosecution has long since succeeded in establishing that Serbia supplied the Bosnian Serbs with significant quantities of weapons and military equipment without which they could not have waged war. Milosevic faces a formidable task to discredit this evidence.