Sarajevo’s iconic city hall – now housing the national library – has been re-opened 22 years after it was destroyed by shelling during the Bosnian War.
The building was hit by a mortar and burned down during the Bosnian Serb siege of the city in 1992.
It was restored to mark the centenary of WWI, which was triggered by the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Franz Ferdinand was shot dead after leaving city hall on June 28, 1914.
Sarajevo’s iconic city hall has been re-opened 22 years after it was destroyed by shelling during the Bosnian War
The city hall was re-opened at a ceremony on Friday, with 3D projections on its facade showing key moments in the history of the 19th Century building.
“Tonight… we mark the triumph of civilization over barbarism, of light over darkness, of life over death and the triumph of the idea of unity and co-existence over the idea of inhuman and unnatural divisions and clashes,” said Bakir Izetbegovic, the Muslim Bosniak member of Bosnia’s three-man presidency.
The building – in the city’s old Turkish quarter – had no military significance. Almost two million books – including many rare manuscripts – were destroyed in 1992.
The city hall – which was first opened in 1896 – was converted into the national library in 1949.
It now houses the national and university libraries, the city council and a museum.
Former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic has refused to testify after former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic called him as a defense witness at his war crimes trial at The Hague.
It was the first time Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic had appeared together in public since the end of the 1990s war in Bosnia.
Denouncing the UN Yugoslav war crimes tribunal as “satanic”, Ratko Mladic said testifying could harm his own case.
Both men deny charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In his case, Radovan Karadzic faces 11 charges, including genocide relating to the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Radovan Karadzic’s lawyer argued that Ratko Mladic was “the one person in the whole world who knows best what happened in the war in Bosnia” and that Karadzic was asking him to do his best to testify and to tell what had occurred.
Ratko Mladic initially refused to take the oath, saying: “Your subpoenas, your platitudes, your false indictments, I do not care one bit about any of it.”
He added: “I do not recognize this hate court. It is a satanic court.”
The judge warned him he could be held in contempt, with a possible jail term of up to seven years.
The session was then adjourned, apparently so Ratko Mladic’s dentures could be retrieved from his cell.
Ratko Mladic has refused to testify after Radovan Karadzic called him as a defense witness at his war crimes trial at The Hague
On the court’s return, the judge advised Ratko Mladic he was not obliged to answer questions if he thought the answers would incriminate him.
Radovan Karadzic then addressed Ratko Mladic in person, saying: “Good morning general, sir.”
Ratko Mladic did answer Radovan Karadzic’s first question – listing the posts and dates of his military career.
But following the second question – Did you ever inform me that prisoners from Srebrenica would be, were being or had been executed? – Ratko Mladic said: “I refuse to testify on the grounds of my health and because it may prejudice my rights as an accused.”
Lawyers representing Ratko Mladic say he suffers from a memory disorder that makes it hard for him to differentiate between truth and fiction.
The judge ruled Ratko Mladic would not be compelled to answer.
Radovan Karadzic read out his remaining questions, but received the same reply.
Ratko Mladic again asked if he could read out a seven-page statement but was refused. He denounced the court again as the session was adjourned.
Radovan Karadzic had been hoping his former ally’s answers would support his claims that the orders to commit war crimes did not come from him.
The key charges facing Radovan Karadzic relate to Sarajevo and Srebrenica.
The siege of Sarajevo lasted for more than three-and-a-half years – starving the capital of food and power.
Radovan Karadzic is alleged to have orchestrated the shelling of Sarajevo, and the use of 284 UN peacekeepers as human shields in May and June 1995.
In the Srebrenica enclave, Bosnian Serb forces overran the UN-defended safe area in the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of World War Two.
More than 7,500 Muslim men and boys were killed.
Ratko Mladic was the general in charge of the troops.
His trial is being conducted simultaneously at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
Radovan Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in 2008 after 13 years on the run.
He had been found living in disguise in Belgrade, under a false name and working as a New Age healer.
Ratko Mladic was on the run for 16 years before being arrested in 2011 in northern Serbia, where he had also been living under an assumed name.
When Bosnia-Hercegovina became an independent state in 1992, Radovan Karadzic declared the creation of the independent Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Hercegovina (renamed Republika Srpska) with its capital in Pale, a suburb of Sarajevo, and himself as head of state.
Elvedin Pasic is the first witness who has taken the stand in the war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic.
Elvedin Pasic held back tears as he described surviving a mass killing in 1992 in the Bosnian village of Grabovica.
He told the International Criminal Court at The Hague how Bosnia’s ethnic groups lived in peaceful coexistence until the outbreak of war in the 1990s.
General Ratko Mladic is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Ratko Mladic, 70, denies the charges, which date back to the 1992-95 Bosnian War.
He was on the run for 16 years before his arrest and is one of the last key figures wanted for war crimes during the Bosnian War.
General Ratko Mladic is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity
The trial was halted in May because of “irregularities” by the prosecution.
Some of the relatives of victims and survivors of the war have expressed concern that if the trial takes too long, Ratko Mladic, who has suffered from heart problems, will die before a verdict is reached.
Elvedin Pasic, 34, is a Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) from the village of Hvracani in northern Bosnia. He was a teenager during the war.
He told the court: “Before the war we had a great time. We were playing basketball and football, we used to do everything together. Muslim, Croats and Serbs, we were all having a great time, respecting each other.”
Things began to change in the spring of 1992, he said, when as a 14-year-old boy he first noticed a convoy of soldiers in the uniform of the Yugoslav national army giving Muslims the three-fingered Serbian salute.
Elvedin Pasic went on to describe how bombs were falling on his area during the war and his village was overrun.
He was separated from the other men in his family and later survived the execution of around 150 people in the northern Bosnian village of Grabovica.
Later this week, the court is due to hear from the retired British general, Sir Richard Dannatt, who served as deputy commander of NATO’s force in Bosnia.
However, the Mladic defense team has called for his expert evidence to be thrown out.
There will also be an anonymous witness who survived the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. He is expected to tell the court how he saw prisoners being lined up in groups of 10 and executed.
Around 8,000 Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica were killed after the town was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in July of that year – in what was the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II.
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