US IN THE BALKANS 3…INTERVIEW WITH A PROFESSOR

by Felix Quigley

28 June, 2008

Slowly but surely we will put our readers in the picture about this picture. The following interview speaks about the critical importance of that fence which figures so highly in the ITN fakery

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‘They were looking for the best

 picture’

Professor Mischa Wladimiroff told Thomas Deichmann about his investigations into the barbed wire at Trnopolje

The story of the barbed wire fence at Trnopolje camp featured prominently in the trial of the Bosnian Serb Dusko Tadic before the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague. The main prosecution witness against Tadic, Witness ‘L’ (Dragan Opacic, later exposed as a trained liar) told the court that there was a barbed wire fence around Trnopolje, and drew a picture of where it stood. As part of his work in defence of Tadic, the leading Dutch lawyer Professor Mischa Wladimiroff went to Trnopolje to investigate.

Thomas Deichmann: You mentioned that during your research, by accident you obtained information that something could be wrong with those pictures of thin people behind a barbed wire fence.

Prof Wladimiroff: Yes. One of the elements we felt we should check on was this reference of witness ‘L’ to a barbed wire fence around the camp site, that reminded us of the Penny Marshall pictures. Later when I was back in the area we found a man who worked as a guard in that camp, and he was able to provide us with all kinds of details and names, and from that point we were able to go deeper and deeper into the matter. During my October 1996 visit I very specifically focused on that barbed wire issue, and then I approached that man again and he showed me where this fence was.

It became clear to me what actually must have happened. According to this man Penny Marshall entered an area which is at a side of the camp where there is a barn and an electricity house. And the area with the barn and the electricity house was surrounded by barbed wire and poles. He told us that the camera crew must have walked into that area and from there filmed the camp. I videotaped the area and his explanation fits with all the images I have seen.

Later when I interviewed Dragan Opacic after he had told a UN investigator that he had lied, he told me that he had been forced to do so and that he had been trained by the Bosnian police. He also told me that he had been shown the videotapes of Penny Marshall. This is how he got this very strong image of men standing behind barbed wire.

Thomas Deichmann: Is it possible that some evidence, for example this barbed wire fence, was taken away from Trnopolje camp?

Prof Wladimiroff: I have no indication that at the Trnopolje site things were taken away in order to hide things. The school is still partly used as a refugee place. The other large building, the local community centre, is empty now. The houses around Trnopolje camp were empty too when I last went there. Having seen the Penny Marshall footage again recently I realised that at the very end of that area surrounded by barbed wire, close to the electricity house, there must have been some kind of small building. It may have been a small garage. This construction is no longer there. The other buildings are still there. You can simply reconstruct how it looked in those days.

Thomas Deichmann: If your suspicions about the ITN pictures are correct, how would you explain what happened?

Prof Wladimiroff: I think what has happened is that while being there Penny Marshall and her crew were looking for the best picture, as every TV crew and journalist crew would do. And later on I think she may have realised that it was a very suggestive, a very strong image, a very direct remembrance to the camps of the Second World War. Then she did not feel the necessity to explain more about these pictures. It is for her to explain why she did not. I have no idea. But as a matter of fact I can say that in some ways it was good that she made these pictures, because it helped us out. If ‘L’ had not collapsed and confessed that he had lied, we could have used the videotape as evidence against him.


Professor Wladimiroff, 52, of the leading Dutch law firm Wladimiroff and Spong, is chairman of the Netherlands Bar Association for Criminal Lawyers. He lectures at several universities, including Sarajevo.

Before taking over the Tadic case, he helped the War Crimes Tribunal to formulate the Rules of Procedure and Evidence concerning its work with defence lawyers. These are extracts from an interview Thomas Deichmann conducted with Professor Wladimiroff at The Hague on 9 November 1996.

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