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Bosnia: Four witnesses dispute alleged Serb bombing of Sarajevo market

last update: October 31, 16:29

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The Hague, 31 Oct. (AKI) – Four defence witnesses in the trial of wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, accused of genocide and war crimes by the United Nations war crimes tribunal, have disputed alleged bombing of Sarajevo's Markale market by Serb forces during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war.

British ballistic expert Derek Alsop, testifying in Karadzic’s defence, told the court on Wednesday there was “very little evidence” to determine where the grenade which killed 66 people and wounded 140 in February 1994 was fired from.

“Based on available information from the site of the explosion, it is impossible to determine with any precision from which distance the grenade was fired,” Alsop told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Earlier on Wednesday and Tuesday three former Canadian officers, who served with the UN peacekeepers (Unprofor) in Bosnia at the time, backed Alsop’s view that it was almost impossible to target the market by a mortar fire from Serb positions in hills overlooking Sarajevo.

Retired Canadian colonel Stephen Youdry went a step further, saying the explosion at Markale was “staged to blame Bosnian Serb forces”. His testimony concurred with Karadzic’s claim that the explosion was staged by Muslim forces in order to provoke international intervention in the Bosnian war.

“If Markale was a target, the most efficient way to hit it would be by a hand mortar from a rooftop of a nearby building, Youdry suggested.

Karadzic has been charged on eleven counts of genocide and war crimes, including two attacks on Markale in February 1994 and August 1995. The indictment centers on a massacre of over 7,000 Muslims in eastern town of Srebrenica in July 1995 and 44-month siege and shelling of the capital Sarajevo in which 12,000 people were killed.

“The responsibility of one (Serb) side was wrongly determined,” Youdry told the court. Former Canadian general Michael Gaultier said the Unprofor investigation didn’t determine where the grenade was fired from, nor “which side was responsible”.

Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in 2008, after 13 years in hiding, and was transferred to the Hague for trial. In his first appearance in court he denied the charges.

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