ICTY sifts through the Markale massacre

05 February 2007 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

For more than ten years, Bosnian Serbs have insisted that Sarajevo Muslims bombed their own at the City Market on 28 August 1995, leaving 43 people dead and around 90 wounded. The logic behind their reasoning was that the people of the city that had been under siege for more than three years were desperate to make the world aware of their suffering and to trigger NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions around Sarajevo. In the first weeks of Dragomir Milosevic's trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), new light was shed on the question of who was responsible for the Markale Market massacre.

The Serb version of the story survived so many years because UN commanders at the time were less than clear about who was responsible for the mortar fire. Under examination, David Garland, who was the UN chief of civil affairs in 1995, testified that forensic evidence had unequivocally shown that the shots had come from the direction of Bosnian-Serb army positions. But he had personally advised the then UN commander Rupert Smith "... to make a neutral statement in order not to alarm the Bosnian Serbs who would be alerted to the impending NATO air strikes against their positions had he pointed the finger at them." 

"Tools of terror against the civilian population"

Garland described how the Bosnian Serbs had developed a strategy to "use tools of terror against the civilian population" without provoking a harsh response by the UN and NATO. The City Market massacre in August 1995 broke the cycle while fuelling the theory that the Muslims had inflicted it upon themselves.

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