Serb Officer Insists Sarajevo Market Blast Was Staged

A Bosnian Serb Army officer insisted that Bosniak forces staged an attack that killed over 60 people at Sarajevo’s Markale market in 1994, Ratko Mladic’s war crimes trial was told.

Defence witness Milorad Batinic, who was an interpreter for UN military observers during the Bosnian war, told Mladic’s trial at the Hague Tribunal this week how a Bosnian Serb Army officer said he believed that the deadly attack on the market in Sarajevo was faked to incriminate the Serbs.

He said that officer Marko Lugonja told the UN observers that after watching television footage after the blast on February 5, 1994 that he was “convinced that this thing was staged”.

“[Lugonja] said: ‘My service recorded everything and said what happened… Look at those two men, running away from the crime scene. That is suspicious. Look, he said, here is a plastic leg. Where did the leg come from? There is no body?

“Look at those pyramids of potatoes on the stalls – not one single potato fell down. Look at the bottles on the stalls – not one of them is broken, not one of them fell down,” he added.

He said that Lugonja suggested to the UN observers that the bodies had been brought to the marketplace from elsewhere and that “the number of killed and wounded people was too large for one grenade”.

The Bosnian Serb officer said that his forces could not have staged the attack because “it is not in our interest at all”.

Mladic is on trial for terrorising the residents of Sarajevo with a lengthy shelling and sniping campaign. The indictment alleges that a grenade fired from Serb positions killed people 66 and wounded about 140 more at the Markale market in February 1994.

Mladic is also on trial for genocide in Srebrenica and seven other municipalities, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout the country, and for taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

The trial continues on Monday.

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