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Prosecution Wants New Markale Witness
Prosecutors last week asked judges for leave to call a witness who they say will refute former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic’s claim that the 1994 Markale market massacre in Sarajevo was staged by the Bosnian government.
The new potential witness, Almir Begic, was located after Karadzic showed video footage during his opening statements in March – and again during his trial on May 11 – which he said proved the mortar attack was a “war trick”.
Begic’s father, Camil Begic, died in the February 5, 1994 attack, and his prosthetic leg features in some of the video footage Karadzic showed to the court, the prosecution’s motion states.
“That is the artificial leg before the explosion that would need to be planted somewhere,” the prosecution motion quoted Karadzic as saying in the May 11 hearing when he showed the video. The leg appeared on the ground of an empty market place in the video footage shown in court.
Karadzic further states, as quoted in the prosecution motion, “And now after the alleged explosion there was the leg that was blown off. Actually, this is the leg we saw a bit earlier.”
The prosecution “became aware” of Begic after Karadzic’s opening statements and contacted him in March, the motion states. Begic subsequently provided a written statement to prosecutors on April 15, which was disclosed to Karadzic on May 10.
Prosecutors state that Begic’s testimony is “relevant and probative.”
It would “assist the trial chamber in not only assessing the provenance and authenticity of this video clip which the accused offered, but refutes his allegation that [the massacre] was staged by the authorities” of Bosnia and Hercegovina.
Prosecutors provided a summary of Begic’s statement as part of their motion. It states that Begic’s father wore a prosthetic leg after suffering an accident in 1961.
On the day of the massacre, the statement reads, the witness’s father walked to the Markale market with his best friend. The witness was nearby at the Trznica indoor market at the time but did not see his father, the statement said.
At about 1 pm, the witness heard a loud explosion, the summary continues. It says he was on his way home by that time and learned of the explosion at Markale about 30 minutes later. The witness subsequently located his father in the French Field Hospital, where he had already died of his injuries, according to the summary.
One or two days later, the summary continues, the witness went to the Markale and “recovered his father’s prosthesis and some personal effects” that had been collected by a market employee.
“He kept the prosthesis, and still has it to this day,” the summary reads.
The decision on whether to add Begic as a witness will now go before judges.
Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.
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