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Milosevic Defence Portray Serb Suffering

But judges repeatedly question testimony’s relevance to the case.
By Rebekah Heil
The defence in the trial of Bosnian Serb Dragomir Milosevic this week attempted to paint a picture of the suffering that both sides went through during the conflict in and around Sarajevo.

Witnesses gave detailed, emotional testimony, but the judges on several occasions intervened to ask about the testimony's relevance to the case.

Milosevic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Sarajevo Romanija Corps, SRK, is charged with seven counts of crimes against humanity and violations of laws and customs of war for artillery and sniper attacks which are said to have terrorised the inhabitants of Sarajevo from August 1994 until November 1995.

The indictment states that when Milosovic took over command of the SRK in 1994, he continued attacks on civilians begun by his predecessor, General Stanislav Galic, and aided and abetted the campaign's planning and execution. Galic was given a life sentence on appeal for his role in the campaign.

Drazen Maunaga, a witness for the defence, testified about how the Serb population in the vicinity of Sarajevo lived in fear of Bosnian army guns - something the defence counsel called "a sure sign of sowing fear among one's people".

He said Serbs he encountered during his employment as head of the office for cooperation with UNPROFOR in the Ilidza municipality would ask him “since I had contact with foreigners, whether it was possible for me to get a visa for them so they could leave the area".

Maunaga said that he had himself been seriously wounded by a Bosnian shell.

"I was injured in the stomach. Basically, I had my intestines in my hand," he told the court.

The judges, who at one point enquired about the witness's current health, nonetheless said that it was not enough for the defence to argue that the Serbs were also suffering.

The defence, however, continued their theme on Wednesday with the testimony of Zoran Samardzic. He was originally under protection - known as "T-47" - but the chamber granted his request for protective measures to be lifted.

Samardzic testified about how he went to visit a friend who had been hit by a shell while he was out in the streets, and returned to find that his son and his friend had been killed in a bombardment.

"When I returned to my apartment I found my child dead!" said Samardzic. "My only child, Sasha - 13 years old, he was, and his friend…he was 11 years old. I found them in pieces!"

After giving the witness a few minutes to compose himself, the judges again asked how his testimony was relevant to the charges in the indictment, and encouraged the defence to move on.

It was the third time that judges enquired about the relevance of defence testimony that day.

For their part, the prosecution on Monday presented protected defence witness T-53 with a request from Milosevic for non-infantry weapons, dated June 1995.

The prosecution asked if Milosevic would make a "frivolous request" for non-infantry weapons if he did not intend to use them, to which the witness replied, "I cannot answer that."

On Tuesday, the prosecution questioned Maunaga about the communication equipment he used as a scout during his time in the army. He told them that he was able to contact his commander, and to his knowledge the information he collected was passed up the command chain.

The prosecution told the judges that they were trying to establish whether Bosnian Serb observation posts were able get information to use for indirect fire weapons, that is, weapons that "could hit things they could not see".

However, the witness said he had not been in a position to provide information that could be used in that way.

Rebekah Heil is an IWPR reporter.

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