COURTSIDE: Sarajevo Trial

UN commanders tell of random shelling of city.

COURTSIDE: Sarajevo Trial

UN commanders tell of random shelling of city.

Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Mole told the court last week that Serbs forces shelled Sarajevo randomly, causing 15 to 20 civilian casualties a day.

General Stanislav Galic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, is charged with terrorising the city's civilian population.

Mole, one in a series of prosecution witnesses who served in Bosnia under the UN, said he had warned Galic in person about the consequences of firing on the capital. His information on the shelling came from the UN observation posts, which he said covered 95 per cent of the city.

Serb army commanders in 1992 told Mole that random shots were fired as part of mortar artillery warm-up.

"There was never a specific target," Mole told the court. "The shots in the direction of the town were random and very likely to hit civilians."

He said when he complained to Galic, the general changed the subject or claimed the Bosnian army was shelling them.

Mole said there was a general perception that Serb forces often shelled Sarajevo in revenge for losses elsewhere. Galic once told him that Bosnian army activities on Mount Igman had angered the Serbs and that their pressure on the city would increase if such operations were not halted.

The next prosecution witness was General Ad Van Baal, commander-in-chief of UN forces in Bosnia from February to August 1994, who testified that, in his belief, the only aim of the shelling was to inflict terror on the population by "indiscriminate shooting of defenceless citizens at unexpected time and places”.

Van Baal said he complained about civilian casualties to the Bosnian Serb army chief of headquarters, General Manojlo Milovanovic, who told him that trams and their passengers would be targeted unless the service stopped running - which is what happened.

Van Baal continued to send complaints to the general, who answered that Bosnian Muslims used heavy armaments to fire on Sarajevo. Serb army major Milenko Indjic told him the same thing and added that the Serb snipers were beyond their control.

Mirna Jancic is an IWPR assistant editor.

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