1 Friday, 25 February 2011
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.00 a.m.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good morning to everybody. We are sitting today
6 on a Friday. That was pursuant to the request of the accused not to sit
7 the Monday of this week to enable him to participate in a religious
8 celebration in the Detention Unit. I just wanted to put this on the
10 Before we continue the examination of the current witness, I
11 would like to raise a specific matter. Last week we had a very
12 unfortunate situation in our courtroom which was discussed twice since
13 then. I refer to the conduct of the Prosecutor during the hearing on the
14 16th of February.
15 The Chamber finds itself in a very unsatisfactory situation. We,
16 the Judges, considered the situation very seriously and the many aspects.
17 This is the reason why we come back to the matter only today, which is
18 very unfortunate. As the Presiding Judge of this Chamber, I would like
19 to provide the participants of the trial with my personal view. As the
20 Presiding Judge, it is my obligation to ensure a fair as well as an
21 expeditious trial with full respects for the rights of the accused. I
22 have to establish and maintain a good atmosphere in the courtroom and a
23 cooperative and professional relation between the parties.
24 Further, I have to guarantee the invaluable position of every
25 single Judge of this Bench. The conduct of the Prosecutor in question
1 raises two serious concerns which I addressed already earlier. We have
2 to rely on the information about the availability of witnesses provided
3 by either party. Neither the opposing party - in this case, the Defence
4 - nor the Chamber should be put under unnecessary time pressure but
5 incorrect information. Or to put it in other terms, we don't want to be
6 misled. More serious were, in our view, the critical remarks of the
7 Prosecutor with respect to questions and remarks of Judge Mindua. This
8 was a totally unacceptable behaviour. Every Judge has the unlimited
9 right to put questions to witnesses. No party has the permission for any
10 criticism in this respect. It is very unfortunate that this has to be
11 recalled in this courtroom.
12 Mr. McCloskey, you know all of that. Even in very emotional
13 moments in such a trial everybody has to bear that in mind. This is one
14 precondition for our successful work.
15 Mr. McCloskey, the Judges have taken notice of your repeated
16 apologies. I refer to your immediate apology at the same hearing, you're
17 apologies you conveyed through Mr. Vanderpuye the next day, and to your
18 statement you gave on Tuesday this week. This statement, in my view, was
19 very honest and impressive, and I take it word for word. On my part, I
20 accept your apologies. I'm sure that you will agree with the statement
21 of the Chamber of 17th February and with my guidance of today. You will
22 bear that in mind during the remaining time of this trial.
23 With respect to the need to re-establish good and trusting
24 relations, we should now look into the future and make sure that nothing
25 like this will happen again.
1 This concludes the matter.
2 The witness should be brought in, please.
3 Mr. Gajic.
4 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, good morning to
6 Perhaps it will be good to mention before the witness is brought
7 in that a year ago to this day we had a Pre-Trial Conference in this
8 case, so it is, in fact, a year into the trial today.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much for this reminder. I was not
10 aware of that. But, indeed, it is a long trial and a very serious trial
11 and we all have to do our very best to ensure that we will succeed.
12 [The witness takes the stand]
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good morning, Dr. Parsons. Welcome back to the
14 courtroom. I have to remind you that the affirmation to tell the truth
15 still applies.
16 WITNESS: THOMAS PARSONS [Resumed]
17 THE WITNESS: Thank you. Good morning. I understand.
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: And Mr. Tolimir is continuing his
20 Mr. Tolimir, you have the floor.
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Thank
22 you for allow -- and I want to thank you for allowing me to attend my
23 religious ceremony and I'm sorry if I disrupted the schedule for that
24 fact. I would like this trial to reflect God's will and not mine.
25 Good morning to everyone.
1 Cross-examination by Mr. Tolimir: [Continued]
2 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning to the witness.
3 As a follow-up to our yesterday's discussion, this is it my
4 question: Does the independent [as interpreted] commission on missing
5 persons in any way oversee the work of the federal commission's work with
6 regard to missing persons? Thank you.
7 A. We do not oversee it in a supervisory or official capacity.
8 However, we do work alongside the commission at many grave-sites and
9 assist them in the provision of technical assistance and scientific
10 expertise with regard to the forensic excavation of the grave-sites.
11 Q. Thank you for your answer. Does this mean, in reference to the
12 technical assistance and scientific expertise you give them, that the
13 international commission has no obligation whatsoever to control the work
14 of the federal commission in the process of gathering information and
15 identifying missing persons and that it has no binding obligations in
16 that regard whatsoever?
17 A. That's correct.
18 Q. [No interpretation] [Microphone not activated]
19 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] My apologies.
21 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
22 Q. Mr. Parsons, can the international commission issue any binding
23 instructions or put a stop to any activity undertaken by the federal
24 commission if it deems it necessary to do so?
25 A. No, we don't have authority in that -- in that manner.
1 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Can we call up Exhibit P1935 in
2 e-court. This is from the Popovic case. 20880 is the transcript page,
3 lines 22 through 25. We'd like Mr. Parsons to see what his testimony in
4 that case was, and I'll be quoting it once we have it on our screens. Or
5 perhaps I could start quoting it now because he'll able to respond from
7 "The International Commission for Missing Persons was routinely
8 informed of the excavations" --
9 THE INTERPRETER: Can Mr. Tolimir please repeat the last part of
10 the quote because it was unclear.
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, the interpreters ask you to repeat
12 the last part of your quote because they didn't catch it. It is only
13 records that you said: "The International Commission for Missing Persons
14 was routinely informed of the excavations," and then it stopped.
15 Please repeat the following part of the quotation.
16 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation] My apologies.
17 MR. VANDERPUYE: [Previous translation continues] ...
18 Mr. President, I'm sorry to interrupt.
19 MR. TOLIMIR: [No interpretation]
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I think, in my view, there is an urgent matter.
21 Mr. Vanderpuye.
22 MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, it may very well be. I understand that
23 what's big displayed in e-court is the under seal version of the
24 transcript. What we should be displaying is the public version.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much for this advice.
1 That should be P1936. The same page, the same line.
2 Thank you for your guidance.
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I'll
4 repeat the entire sentence. I wanted the witness to see it because the
5 transcript itself is quite unclear.
6 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
7 Q. So I'm quoting: "The International Commission for Missing
8 Persons is very regularly involved in excavations."
9 Below, it says that "the excavation of the grave-sites is not
10 under the authority of the ICMP."
11 This is my question: It follows from this that the excavation of
12 the grave-sites is under the authority of the federal commission and that
13 previously, up until 2000, it was under the authority of the ICTY OTP.
14 My question is this: While excavations are ongoing, what is the party
15 you receive information from on the excavations? And specifically from
16 whom do you receive information about this grave-site's connection or
17 lack thereof to the Srebrenica events? Thank you.
18 A. There's a number of sources of information that are available to
19 us. One would be information that we're aware of as a result of ICTY
20 investigations. We also would obtain information from either the federal
21 commission or currently the Missing Persons Institute, which is the
22 national organisation that is responsible for the conduct in relation to
23 missing persons cases.
24 Q. Thank you. I was told by my Legal Assistant that the question
25 was not properly interpreted in English, so I'll repeat it.
1 What sort of information do you receive from the organisation
2 involved in excavations or conducting excavations? Thank you.
3 A. Well, in -- in so far as we work together in deploying to the
4 site, very often some background information regarding what is known from
5 any number of sources will be provided to the ICMP. But our conduct
6 really is not dependant upon information that we have or do not have. It
7 becomes an independent scientific investigation of that particular site.
8 Q. Thank you. Can you please give us a specific answer to this
9 question because it hinges on many other questions. Please, what sort of
10 information do you receive from the organisation exhuming graves? So
11 that's what I'm interested. I'm only interested in the organisation
12 which is exhuming grave-sites and not any other bodies. Thank you.
13 A. Well, first of all, I'll say that I myself do not often
14 participate in the grave evacuations so I'm not a first-hand party to the
15 transfer of information. But with regard to the provision of background
16 information, I would say that that occurs in a relatively casual manner,
17 to the extent that it does occur. In other words, there is not any
18 formal reporting mechanism whereby information regarding the grave-site
19 is formally transmitted to the ICMP, nor would there need to be.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Parsons, may I support Mr. Tolimir. I think
21 it was a quite short and clear question. Which kind of information does
22 your institution, your -- the ICMP, receive? What kind of information?
23 THE WITNESS: Well, formally it would be the location of the site
24 and what is anticipated to be found there with regard to its size and
25 therefore the technical resources that we would need to be deployed.
1 Often that's not actually known precisely in advance of the evacuation
2 because the information is not available prior to the exhumation. But
3 the type of information that -- what might be provided is that it's --
4 it's thought to be related to the Srebrenica -- the fall of Srebrenica
5 due to its proximity to other such, say, secondary mass graves. But
6 honestly, I don't think that there is a lot of specific information that
7 is frequently given to us.
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir.
9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
10 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
11 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons. In that case, can you tell us, did the
12 ICMP take part in exhumations and does it take part in exhumations, and
13 are you involved in the identification of persons who went missing in
14 Srebrenica? Thank you.
15 A. Yes. We are very routinely involved in exhumations and we're
16 very much involved in the identification of persons missing from
18 Q. Thank you. What do you mean when you say "routinely," if you can
19 tell us, Mr. Parsons?
20 A. The ICMP has either monitored or assisted in the physical
21 recovery at over 3.000 grave-sites in Bosnia and a large number of
22 those - I forget the number - that have come to be considered to be
23 related to Srebrenica.
24 Q. Thank you. I'll have to be happy with the answer as it stands,
25 if you believe it is a matter of routine.
1 Can you tell us, do you take part in exhumations and
2 identification of individuals who went missing from Srebrenica or
3 elsewhere in Bosnia in the course of 1992, 1993, and 1994? Thank you.
4 A. No. We -- we were not involved in exhumations in those early
5 periods. However, we have identified many people who went missing in
6 those periods.
7 Q. Thank you. Yesterday, in the course of the examination-in-chief,
8 you said, at page 54, that around 23.000 persons are listed as missing in
9 Bosnia. Do you provide any sort of services with a view to identifying
10 these missing persons, since you are located in Bosnia, or do you only
11 provide the information related to Srebrenica? Thank you.
12 A. No. We are very much involved, quite equally involved, in the
13 identification of all missing persons from Bosnia. The
14 Srebrenica-related identifications are simply a representative subset of
15 our work.
16 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons. In that case, can you please answer the
17 following question: Are you involved in making matches between donor
18 blood samples and bone samples of the victims gone missing in Srebrenica
19 in 1992 through to 1994, or those who had gone missing in that same
20 time-period generally in Bosnia?
21 A. We would be involved in making those matches to anyone reported
22 missing to us from any time-period relating to Srebrenica or otherwise.
23 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons. Does this mean that your information
24 about a missing person from 1992 could be found and used in some
25 statistical analyses compiled by the relevant state authority of
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina? Thank you.
2 A. Yes, indeed.
3 Q. Let's be even more specific. Is it possible for, say, one of the
4 sides to place the DNA findings which you found a match for as having
5 been -- gone missing in 1992, 1993, or 1994 with the findings of those
6 who went missing in 1995?
7 A. Can you please clarify what you mean by "sides"? I'm not aware
8 of any ongoing conflict that has "sides" to it.
9 Q. Thank you. I meant the parties to the identification --
10 identification process. You, as the ICMP, are one party. There we have
11 also the Bosnian commission. So when you send matches for victims who
12 went missing in 1992 or 1993 or 1994, is it possible for, let's say, the
13 Bosnian commission to list those victims among the victims gone missing
14 in 1995? And would you have any responsibility to bear in that case?
15 Thank you.
16 A. There is no Bosnia commission presently. This is a role that has
17 been transitioned to a national unit called the Missing Persons
18 Institute. But with that clarification, the sense of your question is
19 clear, and the answer is, yes, that information could easily made
20 available. And in fact, the ICMP regularly distributes to such
21 stakeholders a full notification list of all identifications that have
22 been made.
23 Q. Thank you for stating in the transcript the exact name of the
24 relevant Bosnian body which is the Missing Persons Institute.
25 Can you also tell us, for the sake of the transcript, when the
1 institute came into being exactly?
2 A. I won't be able to provide you with exact dates, and this isn't
3 my area of -- of responsibility or specialisation. But I will tell you
4 that, to my knowledge, the Missing Persons Institute was brought into
5 existence by agreement in 2005, but implementation of its operational
6 role has -- took until around 2008 to -- to become established.
7 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons.
8 THE ACCUSED: Can we now show Exhibit P193, again the transcript
9 from the Popovic case, which we have on our screens. So we need page
10 23 --
11 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter isn't sure about the number.
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Or, rather, yes it's what we have
13 on our screens.
14 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
15 Q. In answer to the Prosecutor's question --
16 THE INTERPRETER: Can Mr. Tolimir please repeat what he said.
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I think we are on the wrong document. You quoted
18 the wrong number. It is P1936. There was one number missing so that we
19 have a wrong document on the screen.
20 Back to the Popovic transcript, please.
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. The
22 page is 15 to 19 [Realtime transcript read in error "15219"]; page is
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I think Mr. Tolimir misspoke. When he is
25 referring to "15 to 19," [Realtime transcript read in error "15219"] that
1 were the lines, in my understanding, and not the page.
2 Again, it is recorded incorrectly. I said "15 to," what means
3 "through 19." Thank you very much for the correction.
4 Go ahead, please.
5 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
6 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
7 Q. I am now going to quote what the gentleman said in response to
8 the Prosecutor.
9 The question was:
10 "... how the location and place of disappearance is denoted in
11 the ICMP database?"
12 And you replied:
13 "Well, I should mention that for individuals reported missing
14 from anywhere in Bosnia regarding any event, the information that we get
15 comes from the family members of the missing. So to associate it with
16 Srebrenica, that would have been information that the family provided to
18 So, if you can, would you please clarify what you meant by this,
19 because it's a rather long answer, so could you explain to us the essence
20 of all this? Thank you.
21 A. When we collect reference blood samples from family members in
22 order to identify their missing loved ones, they provide us with a
23 certain amount of information that allows us to properly make use of that
24 data. So we determine who the missing person is, what his relationship
25 to the family members are, whether there's any additional missing persons
1 that are also related to the -- the first missing person. And we inquire
2 about the place and date of disappearance. And so it would from the
3 family's information that would indicate that an individual was missing
4 in relation to Srebrenica in July 1995.
5 Q. Thank you. In that case, please tell us whether the ICMP links
6 the disappearance of a certain person to the fall of Srebrenica
7 exclusively based on information provided by the family of that missing
8 person to you. Thank you.
9 A. In large part, that is correct, yes.
10 Q. Please tell us whether the ICMP checks that information in any
11 way and compares it with information that is it in the possession, for
12 example, of the ICRC or the national Missing Persons Institute, as we now
13 call it, the BH army, that also has lists of missing persons, et cetera.
14 I mean whether you check the dates and the information that's in these
16 A. We will make note, for example, if that missing person -- if the
17 family informs us that the missing person is also on the ICRC list of
18 missing. But, in fact, we do not have a comprehensive investigative
19 programme that would seek to reconcile the various lists or to further
20 investigate in any definitive fashion the nature of that missing person's
21 report as it comes to us from the families.
22 Q. Thank you. Since you're under no obligation, I would like to ask
23 a question regarding some practical matters.
24 Are indications given to the ICMP by anyone if there is mismatch
25 between the information that the ICMP has and information that -- that
1 exists in other records, for example, information that the BH army has?
2 A. Well, it's a difficult question to answer highly -- specifically.
3 We -- we work very closely with many organisations and with families,
4 et cetera, and so the ICMP's body of knowledge as a result of our
5 interactions is very, very wide.
6 So it's hard for me to be specific with regard to how our
7 knowledge is updated or to what extent. However, let me say that, no,
8 we -- for example, we do not cross-correlate with information from the
9 BH army, for example.
10 Q. Thank you for that explanation. In order to clarify the
11 situation that arises, would you please look at document P1766. And this
12 would be important to us because of the authority of your commission.
13 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] could we look at P17 -- P1776,
14 page 97 in English. Could we please have it in e-court. It's a table
15 from Mr. Brunborg's report which shows cases where there's a mismatch
16 between the date of disappearance and the death of a person in the
17 records of the Prosecution and the BH army.
18 Now we don't have it on the screens yet. We can't see the table.
19 We see page 1 of the report. There it is. Could we please turn it.
20 Thank you. And could we zoom in so the witness could see it.
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I think this -- this should not -- I think this
22 should not be broadcast.
23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
24 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
25 Q. The question is: Was the attention of the ICMP ever drawn to
1 these inconsistencies that we can now see in this table number 6? Or was
2 indication given to you about any other inconsistencies?
3 A. I don't know what inconsistencies you're referring to.
4 Q. [No interpretation] [Microphone not activated]
5 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
6 MR. TOLIMIR: [No interpretation] [Microphone not activated]
7 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
8 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
9 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
10 Q. Look at column number 4; vertical column number 4. Let's look at
11 the first person. It says date of death 26 April 1992. That's how he's
12 registered by the International Tribunal.
13 Let's look at number 6 now, line 6, where it says that the date
14 of death is 10 January 1994. And it says: "Location Buljim."
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I touched the screen, and I ruined
16 everything. I'm sorry.
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: No, it was not you, Mr. Tolimir. It was the
18 witness. But that happens several times. You can't avoid it. It's back
19 on the screen.
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
21 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
22 Q. However, towards the end, it says that this person is in
23 Glogova 2, and it says "ICMP protocol, 1935/03." Can you see that in the
24 one-but -last column?
25 A. Yes.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
2 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
3 I would just note that General Tolimir has predicated his
4 question on the statement that the DOD, corresponding to the military
5 records, represents the date of death. I can see that the caption of the
6 table itself reads: "Cases of inconsistent date of death/disappearance."
7 I'm not sure what General Tolimir is predicating his statement
8 on, the fact that DOD in the military records means "date of death"
9 rather than "date of disappearance," but I think that's material
10 particularly in presenting the question to the witness in terms of an
11 inconsistency with the, as you can see in the following column, corrected
12 date, or the date -- or any other date relating to the person's
13 disappearance in the record.
14 So if he can at least provide some basis for his assertion that
15 the DOD in the military records means date of death, I think that will be
16 helpful. And it will also provide a clearer basis from which the witness
17 can respond.
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you, Mr. Vanderpuye. The headline clearly
19 indicates that DOD seems to be inconsistent date of death/disappearance,
20 and we have heard the witness about that.
21 With that addition, are you able to answer the last question? If
22 you recall it.
23 THE WITNESS: Actually, I don't recall what I was -- what I'm
24 being asked to respond to.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, it's a long time ago. It has already
1 disappeared from the screen.
2 Could you please repeat your last question, Mr. Tolimir.
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Thank
4 you, Mr. Vanderpuye.
5 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
6 Q. I just had some questions. I didn't make any assertions. Look
7 at everything that I've said and it will be clear. I only ask questions.
8 So I will repeat my question now. I will repeat my question.
9 Were indications given to the ICMP regarding discrepancy between
10 the information that comes from the ICMP records and other records, for
11 example, that of the BH army? And I mentioned an example here; namely,
12 the BH army has a person as disappeared or died on the
13 10th of January, 1994, that is, a year before the events in Srebrenica,
14 and in your protocol this person is registered as having been found in
15 Glogova 2. So now I am waiting for your answer, whether that was
16 reported or indicated to you or not.
17 A. Not in any systematic manner. As I said before, our information
18 comes from reports of the family.
19 With regard to the discrepancy, was this individual -- we
20 don't -- we're not responsible for or know about the Bosnian army
21 records. For example, looking at this, it's not clear to me whether that
22 is the -- 1994 is the date at which they last saw that individual. That
23 to say, their date of disappearance. So whether there's an actual
24 discrepancy, to me, is not clear at all.
25 Q. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Parsons. This list has a database
1 based on which it was made, and it was made by the expert of the
2 Prosecution. And there appears to be a discrepancy between the
3 information that the OTP has and what the army has and, again, with what
4 you put in that last column.
5 Now did anyone from the International Tribunal direct your
6 attention to these discrepancies, that is, by the OTP, since this was
7 made by their expert for the Prosecution? Thank you.
8 A. I have no knowledge that this list, per se, has been brought to
9 our attention.
10 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons, for your answer.
11 Could you answer this question: If the ICMP were to receive
12 documents or statements that indicate that there is information about the
13 date of death and that the date of death was wrongly recorded in the
14 BH army or in the Missing Persons Institute that you mentioned or the
15 ICMP, and if that were the case, which of all this information would
16 finally be relevant?
17 A. Our database reflects the information that we have collected from
18 families. We have not undertaken to do a comprehensive investigation of
19 the status of missing persons in Bosnia. And so our data that we
20 obtained from families would -- would remain as such. And, in fact, that
21 information is -- is not critical with regard to our primary effort to
22 identify these individuals.
23 The issue of reported date of disappearance is one that is
24 basically impossible to resolve. We see, even, an example of it here,
25 where I made reference to it being very unclear what it means to call the
1 date of disappearance of someone in 1994. And we faced this problem as
2 well. We'll obtain samples from multiple family members and each of them
3 will provide information on what they know of the date and place of
4 disappearance. And different of those family members may, in fact,
5 have -- provide somewhat different information. One of them may have
6 last seen the family member two days before the fall of Srebrenica when
7 he was left at the DutchBat compound or something like that, and another
8 family member may have seen him a couple of days after.
9 So these are records that are extremely difficult to resolve, and
10 we don't undertake a systematic effort to try to resolve all that.
11 Q. Thank you. If the family has a document issued by a court that
12 says a certain person was killed on such and such a date, for example, in
13 1994, as it says here, and then based on that they obtain certain
14 privileges such as retirement or social welfare and you made an entry in
15 the final column that this particular person had been found in Glogova,
16 how is that problem going to be resolved? Can you answer that? Thank
18 A. Well, first of all, I don't see that this document indicates a
19 report that this individual was killed on -- in 1994. But, in any case,
20 if a family came to us to update the information that they had provided,
21 we would enter it. None of that would likely affect our conclusion,
22 based on scientific identification processes, that that individual was in
23 fact recovered from Glogova 2.
24 I think the fact that we were able to provide a definitive
25 scientific identification of the individual from Glogova 2 would in fact
1 be the appropriate resolution to any discrepancies.
2 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons. When we get to the scientific analysis
3 and molecules, I will ask you questions that are relevant to what you
4 just said.
5 But please tell us how to resolve this problem, namely, that in
6 one entry the person is listed as being in a mass grave and in 1994 he is
7 in the military records or municipal records as having died and then the
8 family gets certain welfare. Is the family going to have to return all
9 the welfare because that person was recorded as having been killed, and
10 is that your responsibility? Thank you.
11 A. I have no knowledge of the basis of this list; and I don't know
12 anything about family reparations and welfare; and, no, it is not our
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, just for the record, I don't see any
15 indication or recording ...
16 [Defence counsel confer]
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I don't see in this list any entry, any
18 recording, of killing of the people. We have only the column "date of
19 death" or "date of disappearance." Nothing about killing. I just wanted
20 to put that on the record.
21 Please continue.
22 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
23 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
24 Q. Mr. Parsons, if someone was to provide you with this list, or a
25 list like this, where there are discrepancies, where the army refused to
1 change its attitude based on the documents that it has, and here the
2 entries of the ICMP remain the same, then does the ICMP claim that that
3 particular person was found in Glogova, and is that information then
5 A. It would remain the ICMP's conclusion that the individual was
6 obtained from Glogova.
7 We're always happy to look -- to review our cases should credible
8 information come to our attention that would suggest some real
9 discrepancy. I don't view these sort of mishmash of lists as something
10 that would flag major scientific review of our cases. But, in general,
11 the ICMP considers that these global issues relating to lists of missing
12 persons is the domain of the Missing Persons Institute which is, in fact,
13 in the process of establishing a central list of missing persons to
14 resolve exactly these sorts of issues. And we've provided our
15 information to the Missing Persons Institute to assist them in that.
16 Q. [No interpretation] [Microphone not activated]
17 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
18 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Thank you. I won't ask any more questions about this. This is
20 the last one: If there are witnesses to the death that the army has --
21 and Mr. Brunborg said that the BH army refused to change its attitude,
22 then would you still -- would you still claim that this -- that
23 particular person was found in Glogova? Thank you.
24 A. I think so, yes. Seeing someone being killed and knowing where
25 his remains are -- are different things from -- to begin with.
1 Q. Thank you. If, in this Court, we as the Defence say that there
2 are several such case - Mr. Brunborg mentioned 220 such cases - are you
3 in any way whatsoever obliged to check and correct the entries that
4 you've made in relation to a particular person? Thank you.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
6 MR. VANDERPUYE: Mr. President, I don't think that the question
7 comports with the evidence or the statements of Dr. Brunborg. I think
8 the suggestion that General Tolimir is making here is that there are
9 220 cases where somebody has witnessed the death or has concrete
10 information of a death that is inconsistent with the date of
11 disappearance as is indicated in this record. I don't believe that that
12 is correct, and I don't believe that reflects Dr. Brunborg's testimony,
13 or the report for that matter.
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
15 Mr. Parsons, the question was, in fact: Are you in any way
16 obliged to check and correct the entries that you've made in relation to
17 a particular person?
18 THE WITNESS: I would not feel obliged to do that necessarily in
19 this case. It depends upon the -- the basis of the evidence that
20 underlies this that would trigger, for us, enough concern to go and
21 investigate our previous work.
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
23 Mr. Tolimir.
24 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
25 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
1 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons. I won't ask any more questions about
2 this. The Trial Chamber will make its decision based on what we heard.
3 My next question is: Who submits to the ICMP samples from
4 exhumed bodies for purposes of DNA analysis? Thank you.
5 A. I would remind the Court of my extensive address of this issue
6 yesterday. But samples are submitted to the ICMP under the auspices of
7 court-appointed pathologists.
8 Q. Thank you. Tell us, is that this Tribunal or the national
9 Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina? Thank you.
10 A. The national authorities in Bosnia or state authorities; whoever
11 has appropriate jurisdiction.
12 Q. Thank you. In the Popovic case, P1936 - P1935 is the version
13 under seal - at page number 20875, lines 16 through 18, you said the
14 following, and I'm quoting your words:
15 "In the Srebrenica case, a decision was made to take two nominal
16 denominations" [as interpreted] "in that area because the confusing
17 nature of the events makes it difficult to arrive at a consistent date of
18 disappearance or place of disappearance ..."
19 I was reading what you said word for word, and I'll put my
20 question to you based on how I understand your -- what you said.
21 Who was it within the ICMP who decided that nominal and not
22 actual dates of a person's disappearance be given? Thank you.
23 A. That would have been the staff involved from the ICMP's
24 identification coordination division whose staff was involved in taking
25 statements and reference blood samples from the families. And, indeed,
1 when you interview multiple family members associated with the same
2 missing person to obtain information concerning the date and place of
3 disappearance, we will, here, consider the events of the fall of
4 Srebrenica in July 1995, virtually every family member may or, very
5 commonly, will provide slightly divergent information regarding the last
6 date that they saw the individual or where they -- where they think he
7 went missing. And it wound up being a body of information that we had
8 not the investigative capacity or, in fact, mission to try to sort out.
9 We were obtaining information that would allow us to assist in the
10 identification of these individuals.
11 So faced with this massive process of registry and blood sample
12 collection, the -- the staff members there adopted basically a shorthand
13 for -- for indicating that the families are basically reporting the
14 individual missing from the fall of Srebrenica and classified it more
15 generally into one of -- of two primary components of the event, either
16 the missing person -- the information with regard to this categorisation
17 was much more consistent and less difficult to resolve, either that
18 person wound up going to the DutchBat centre near Potocari or that
19 individual was one of the very large column of men who fled from
20 Srebrenica in the days preceding July 11th and 12th.
21 So we don't have recorded extremely precise information in
22 that -- with regard to those categories because there's so much minor
23 divergence, and it would be a matter of adding all kinds of different
24 columns to the table that simply wouldn't be informative, given the level
25 of investigation that actually took place.
1 Q. Thank you for this answer. Let's be precise. It was, therefore,
2 for the sake of your own purposes within the ICMP that nominal and not
3 actual dates be listed, in order for you to more easily apply your
4 method. Your data, which, in this case is nominal, is it then relevant
5 and used for court purposes for the sake of establishing facts? Thank
7 A. Well, first of all, I basically agree with the first part of your
8 statement with regard to these are practical measures that we have
9 undertaken so that we can most efficiently proceed with our effort to
10 identify these people. And I simply leave it to the Court to determine
11 what it wants to conclude with regard to the nature of our information as
12 we have, in our best faith, provided it.
13 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons. Was the same rule regarding nominal
14 dates and places of disappearance used more generally in your work or was
15 it only the case with the Srebrenica missing? Thank you.
16 A. Well, it is generally the case that the ICMP doesn't consider --
17 does not conduct what it considers to be full-fledged investigations
18 regarding the date and place of disappearance, but it is the case that
19 the Srebrenica event is unique in terms of its magnitude and the number
20 of families affected. So I'm unaware of any other systematic use of
21 nominal data in the manner that -- that we're discussing here.
22 Q. Thank you for saying that it is not up to your commission to
23 establish the date and place of disappearance. Rather, you only set them
24 out in nominal terms.
25 Now, the information that the ICMP receives, is it neutral in
1 terms of the manner of death? For instance, whether an individual met
2 his death in combat or otherwise. Thank you.
3 A. Well, there's quite a bit -- I'm sorry for my delay in
5 There's quite a few components that might be addressed in
6 response to this -- to this question. As you know, the ICMP is involved
7 in scientific evacuations of many graves related to Srebrenica and the
8 anthropological examination of remains that come from those graves and
9 through our formal association with the court-appointed pathologist at
10 Podrinje Identification Project, who for many years were -- played a dual
11 role as an ICMP employee and as a state-appointed pathologist. We have a
12 lot of information regarding the cause of death of individuals from
13 Srebrenica. The DNA data that we have been discussing and the
14 information from the families, of course, doesn't provide any information
15 regarding manner -- cause or manner of death.
16 Q. Thank you. Yesterday, on direct examination, you said that you
17 used family blood samples of the person that went missing in order to
18 identify that person through DNA analysis.
19 My question is this: Which of the family members are taken into
20 consideration for sampling for these blood samples? I understood you to
21 say that the mother was the most desirable blood donor. But I'd like to
22 know what is the circle of family members that is acceptable. Thank you.
23 A. Well, the general rule is first-order relatives or siblings. So
24 parents or offspring are the best. Siblings are the next best. And then
25 more distant relatives are useful depending upon the combination with
1 regard to other references that are available.
2 So, in fact, all four grandparents are quite useful; two
3 grandparents not nearly as much so. And so we will collect samples from
4 a wide range of -- of relatives. They may not be sufficient or -- or, on
5 the other hand, they may not be necessary, but we prefer to collect
6 widely in case those samples may help. So, you know, things like uncles
7 and aunts generally provide only minor assistance and would be useful
8 only in combination with other family members. But in many cases they
9 are useful, so we're careful to collect them.
10 Q. Thank you. In the event that there are no parents, grandparents,
11 or siblings available, how would you go about identifying an individual,
12 and on the basis of which donor sample?
13 A. Well, I can give you a specific and more general answer to that
14 question. I understand the nature of the question.
15 If you had no parents or grandparents but you had the wife of the
16 missing person and one or more offspring, those would be very useful.
17 But that was just a specific response to the -- to your question as
19 The answer, more generally, is, we'll use whatever relatives we
20 have. And if we don't have enough relatives, it is in fact the case that
21 we won't be able to make an identification at a sufficient level of
22 certainty. And in fact that's one of the primary reasons why we would
23 fail to identify a DNA profile that we've obtained from a victim sample.
24 Either there are no references for that individual or there are
25 insufficient references for that individual.
1 Q. Thank you. Can you explain how a wife can be a donor? How can
2 it be related to the missing person at all?
3 A. It's a very good question that people often ask.
4 An individual -- the DNA loci, the places within the DNA, that we
5 test are located on chromosomes. And everybody has two pairs of each
6 chromosome, one that they inherited from the mother and one that they
7 inherited from the father. So -- and in each of these loci that we look
8 at - they're independent from each other; there's 15 of them - an
9 individual chromosome may have any number of variations. So this is the
10 source of variation that distinguishes one person from the next. So if
11 we have an individual who is missing and we have his offspring, that
12 offspring got half of his DNA from his father and half of his DNA from
13 his mother. So if this individual's missing, if we have both the
14 offspring and the mother, that allow us to deduce the genetics types of
15 the father. So it's -- these people are -- all have DNA in combination
16 with one another that can be interpreted very, very usefully.
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Can I take it that this is only possible if there
18 are children.
19 THE WITNESS: That's absolutely correct. If there are no
20 children, the spouse is an unrelated individual.
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
22 Mr. Tolimir.
23 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
24 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons. Can you tell us if in that case any
25 other evidence is necessary in terms of whether the wife had a child by
1 that missing person within wedlock? Does there have to be some sort of
2 proof to that effect? Thank you.
3 A. No. We -- we make the identifications based on the information
4 provided to us by families. It would certainly be abhorrently intrusive
5 to try to delve into issues such as you refer to. We are trying to
6 provide the families with their missing loved ones.
7 Q. Thank you. I understand what you're saying. But what if such a
8 sample takes you in the wrong direction, where you are unable to find the
9 wife's or husband's chromosome in children? Thank you.
10 A. In general that would give rise to our inability to identify that
11 individual. It's sadly the case that we're not able to identify
12 everybody killed in these conflicts.
13 Q. Thank you. Can you tell the Trial Chamber, how many cases have
14 you had so far where you were unable to identify an individual because
15 you didn't have a sufficient number of chromosomes or the certainty
16 wasn't at 99 per cent, as you said yesterday? Thank you.
17 A. I'm just checking if I have listed here the information that
18 would allow me to give you a specific answer to that question. It
19 doesn't appear that I do.
20 In general, with regard -- the way I would address your question
21 is to say: How many DNA profiles of unique individuals have we obtained
22 from victim samples that we have not been able to match to family
23 reference samples. And that is a number that's available. It actually
24 takes some time for us to generate it. And I'm sorry, I don't have that
25 information here. There are quite a few.
1 With regard to samples considered to be related to Srebrenica,
2 however, we have more specific information. And we have about a
3 96 per cent match rate on victim profiles from -- from graves considered
4 associated with Srebrenica. So that's really quite a remarkable
5 statistic and indicates that we in fact have very good representation of
6 the population missing from Srebrenica by the family members.
7 Let me say again what I meant by that. If a sample comes to us
8 from a grave associated with Srebrenica and it produced a DNA profile we
9 have not seen before, there's a 96 per cent chance that we will find a
10 match for it amongst individuals who have reported a missing loved one
11 from the fall of Srebrenica.
12 Q. Thank you. Did the ICMP identify the Srebrenica missing from
13 samples taken from distant relatives? And, if so, can you tell us what
14 is the lineage of the most distant relatives that would still allow for
15 identification? Thank you.
16 A. Well, I think we don't know what is meant by distant relatives
17 without me getting more specific. But I don't want to quibble. In --
18 generally, distant relatives aren't useful, unless you have them in
19 constellation with at least a small number of closer relatives. And by
20 distant, I'll say cousins, without people that are -- without additional
21 relatives that are closer, generally aren't very useful. Aunts and
22 uncles aren't very useful. We would never be able to identify someone
23 simply by a reference as a cousin, using the technology that we use.
24 One thing that I think I'll add to that, that's worth having in
25 mind, is that identifications can occur in a processive manner. So if we
1 have references for a particular missing individual and that individual
2 is identified, we now then know the genetic profile of that missing
3 person. If that missing person also has additional relatives that are
4 missing, his profile can now be used as a reference sample to identify
5 other related missing persons. So we know the profile of this person
6 that was previously missing and we can use it now as a reference sample.
7 And that's quite useful in the case of Srebrenica because we have so many
8 relatives that are missing together. In many instances, all the male
9 relatives in a family will have been exterminated in this event, and
10 we're able to -- to perform serial identifications in that manner.
11 Q. Thank you. Can you explain for us, please, what the
12 electropherograms are and what is their significance in the DNA analysis?
13 Thank you.
14 A. I think it won't be helpful for me to try to go into much detail
15 with regard to how electropherograms are generated and what the molecular
16 biology and the chemistry is behind the instrumentation. So I will start
17 simply and then we can build from there if there requires additional
19 But the electropherograms are a visual representation of the
20 chromosomal loci that I referred to previously. And so each of these
21 loci is associated with character states of varying size. So the
22 electropherogram separates the different loci by virtue of the fact that
23 they happen to be different sizes. And then indicates, by a visual
24 depiction, a peak, and that peak represents when a molecule goes by. And
25 it's labelled in a way that can you see it. So what an electropherogram
1 then is, is from -- for our purposes, would be a visual representation of
2 the genetic type of these individuals, showing the different alleles,
3 those are the different variants, that occur within a particular locus,
4 which is a different position on the chromosome.
5 Q. Thank you. When you receive a bone sample of an individual
6 killed, or dead, what is it that you look for in that sample in order to
7 make a match with a donor sample?
8 A. Well, general DNA is extracted from the remains. So all the DNA
9 that the individual has is taken out. And then procedures are --
10 molecular biological procedures are performed in small test tubes that
11 cause just the loci we're interested in to be amplified in a way that we
12 can determine the type. Once that happens, it's run on an instrument and
13 we receive the electropherogram. And electropherogram, basically, is a
14 depiction of the raw data upon which we will base our genetic typing of
15 the individual to arrive at, in the case of the electropherograms, a
16 series of coloured peaks that depict the genetic type and those are
17 translated into an allelic numerical designation such as we saw listed on
18 the DNA match reports yesterday.
19 Q. Thank you. You said yesterday that a living molecule needed to
20 be found in the dead sample that you receive. And is it then that the
21 living molecule is compared to the family samples, the donor samples?
22 A. We may have some translation issues here. I -- let me clarify
23 what I said.
24 The -- the word that's been translated to me is living, and
25 that's not the proper term. It's not a matter of being alive or not. It
1 is whether or not -- so DNA is a chemical molecule of some complexity.
2 And it's actually quite robust, so it can exist outside of life within a
3 bone sample, for example, without being degraded down to its elemental
4 components. On the other hand, certain environmental conditions cause
5 the DNA to be degraded and it basically disappears as a functional DNA
6 molecule. So I think I used the word "surviving DNA." That just simply
7 means the DNA molecules that have not been degraded environmentally.
8 And so to follow to the second part, yes. But, I mean, what
9 we're able to do is obtain DNA profiles from the deceased individual and
10 compare those to the family members.
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I think it is, for everybody, a convenient time
12 for our first break.
13 One last question before --
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] One question. Thank you,
15 Mr. President. It is important because of the follow-up.
16 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
17 Q. You just spoke now of a molecule with surviving structures, as it
18 were. Can you tell us if the molecular structure of the bones you use as
19 a sample, the primal aspect of a molecule which can be resurrected, as it
20 were or, rather, which can be used to resurrect a deceased person? Thank
22 A. That didn't come through the translation as a clear question, but
23 maybe if I answer it this way, I'll answer what I think you're asking,
24 and that is: If we obtain a DNA profile from a deceased individual, then
25 that represents the DNA that has survived. So, in that case, the fact
1 that we have obtained a profile from it means that the DNA molecular
2 structure has survived, which is well-documented as to being entirely
4 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
5 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
6 Q. Thank you to the witness for explaining to us that molecules can
7 survive, which means a great deal to us and our future.
8 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I agree that we should take our
9 break now. Thank you.
10 JUDGE FLUEGGE: We must have our first break now for technical
11 reasons, and we'll resume at 11.00.
12 --- Recess taken at 10.31 a.m.
13 --- On resuming at 11.03 a.m.
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, please continue.
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
16 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
17 Q. Mr. Parsons, based on what we just said about the molecular
18 structure, my next question would be: Does this mean that in order to
19 verify the accuracy of a DNA report, it is necessary to have an
20 electropherogram based on which the DNA analysis results were obtained?
21 A. In order to do a full scientific technical analysis of the data,
22 that would be correct.
23 [Defence counsel confer]
24 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I didn't hear the interpretation
25 but my assistant told me that the witness gave an affirmative reply.
1 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
2 Q. In the Popovic et al. case, and that's Exhibit 1935, on
3 page 20911, lines 19 to 21, you confirmed that you did not provide any
4 electropherograms. So am I correct in saying that without an
5 electropherogram it is not possible to examine whether the DNA results
6 for missing persons are accurate or whether there is anything missing
7 from them?
8 A. In the Popovic trial, we provided quite a number of
9 electropherograms related to the DNA case files from Bisina, as was
10 requested from us.
11 Q. Thank you. Now you've answered my next question. So how many
12 electropherograms did you provide in the Popovic case? Did you select
13 them, or was the selection made by one of the sides in the proceedings?
14 A. I don't recall how many electropherograms were in there. That
15 would have been dozens. And the request was made for -- to supply the
16 DNA case files related to us through the Office of the Prosecutor for
17 those specific files.
18 Q. Thank you. Would it be the same procedure if this Defence sought
19 that certain electropherograms be provided? Would the Defence have to
20 ask for this to be done through the Prosecution and the Court?
21 A. It would seem to me that channelling such a request through the
22 Court would be the most appropriate way to do that.
23 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons. In that case, could the Defence make the
24 selection in that case? Or would you make the selection? In case the
25 Defence wanted to challenge some things or prove certain things, could it
1 make the selection?
2 A. At this point of the conversation, I think it's important to
3 establish some of the considerations that go into provision of what the
4 ICMP considers to be protected genetic data.
5 When we obtain concept from families to process their samples and
6 obtain DNA profiles, we make a solemn assurance to them that their sample
7 won't be used for any other purpose than the identification of their
8 loved one. And any other provision of that data would require express
9 consent on the part of the families.
10 Currently, since, I believe, 2007, the consent forms we use allow
11 the family to indicate whether they would permit their genetic profiles
12 to be released with -- in -- in court proceedings such as this one.
13 Prior to 2007, we did not have that blanket provision on the consent
14 form. So a vast majority of our samples are not covered by such a
15 consent. And we know for a fact that the families have great concern in
16 turning over genetic profiles, their personal genetic information, to
17 individuals who they consider complicit in the death of their family
19 So in order to provide the samples, the ICMP would have to go to
20 great effort and involving additional trauma to families to specifically
21 seek consent from them to provide the information.
22 With that in mind, and the fact that this is highly technical
23 information that can take years to review, given the vast amount of
24 genetic data that we have, the ICMP would -- would seek to determine that
25 a reasonable course of provision of data was followed.
1 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons, for mentioning this.
2 My question is this: Could the Court be entrusted with this
3 information with the obligation that they consider this confidential,
4 just as the -- the documents we looked at a moment ago that were also --
5 that was -- that were also confidential? Thank you.
6 A. In the case of specific consent from the family members, yes.
7 Q. Thank you. Does this mean that the will of the families is
8 limited even in the case of information that was provided to the
9 Prosecution for the purposes of analysis and which was present -- and
10 information which was presented in court? Thank you.
11 A. The translation I'm reading of that question has the phrase "the
12 will of the families is limited ..." I don't know what that means.
13 Q. Thank you. I'll repeat my question.
14 Can the families limit this Court from getting information that
15 they already have from the Prosecution through some lists that were used
16 for Court purposes and which the Defence wishes to check? Thank you.
17 A. The previous conversation related to electropherograms which
18 contains the actual genetic data of the families, and the Court has not
19 received any such data without the express consent of family members.
20 Q. Thank you. Does that mean that your commission for which you're
21 working is untouchable by the courts because it is protecting
22 information? Thank you.
23 A. I -- I'm not quite sure what know what the word "untouchable"
24 means. Certainly we're willing and able to provide information within
25 the bounds of the personal data protection assurances that we have
1 already given to the families to assist the Court and to assist the
3 Q. Thank you. Tell us, then, can the Court or the Defence or the
4 Prosecution have the obligation to protect this data that you provide,
5 the same way as you are obliged? Or are there no guarantees to that
6 effect? Thank you.
7 A. I would class those as legal questions to which I have no
8 expertise or insight.
9 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons. Then I'll ask you something else.
10 Since you're testifying here as an expert and not as a regular
11 witness, was -- did the Prosecution direct your attention to the fact
12 that in order to ensure the confidentiality of the reports that you
13 present to the Court as an expert, you must base the evidence that you
14 give on clear indicators?
15 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction: "Reliability" and
16 not "confidentiality" of the reports.
17 [Defence counsel confer]
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I'm sorry, my assistant said that I
19 was not interpreted correctly. I would like to repeat because I might
20 have spoken too fast. May I repeat --
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, the interpreters already corrected
22 themselves. And they replaced the word "confidentiality" by
23 "reliability." And I think in that context the question is quite clear.
24 I don't see a need for repetition.
25 Sir, are you able to provide Mr. Tolimir with your answer?
1 THE WITNESS: One moment.
2 I find elements of the question, notwithstanding the
3 clarification of the interpreter, to be vague. Reports -- "in order to
4 ensure the reliability of the reports that you present to the Court"; I'm
5 not sure what he's meant by "reports." And: "Base ... evidence ... on
6 clear indicators"; I'm not quite sure what that means either.
7 With regard to those -- that specific language, I don't recall
8 that the Prosecution has given me any advice regarding that.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, perhaps you rephrase your question
10 and help the witness to understand you in a better way.
11 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
12 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
13 Q. Thank you to the witness.
14 Were you advised that the sources of the data that you use in
15 court must be clearly indicated and available? Thank you.
16 A. I do not recall specifically being advised to that effect.
17 Q. Thank you for your answer.
18 [Defence counsel confer]
19 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
20 Q. Since you were not advised, is it your obligation as an expert to
21 make sure that your sources are clearly indicated and available for the
22 analyses that you perform here in court? Thank you.
23 A. I would think so, yes.
24 Q. Thank you. Does that contradict the fact that you did not
25 provide us with all the electropherograms for the analyses that you did?
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
2 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
3 I'm afraid I do object to that question. There has been no
4 request by the Defence heretofore, if I'm using the term correctly, for
5 the provision of any such material. In fact, the electropherograms that
6 Dr. Parsons referred to relating to the Bisina executions were provided
7 to the Defence. They've had that since ... for a long time. Probably
8 better than a year. And there's been no request, even having that
9 information, for any further information for the purpose of analysis, for
10 the purposes of comparisons, for the purposes of extrapolations that they
11 might otherwise make, or for the purposes of any expert they might intend
12 to call.
13 So I think that the question is unfair as put to the witness,
14 particularly since it's clearly predicated on the fact that there was no
15 such request made.
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
17 Before you get the floor, Mr. Gajic, I would like to have an
18 explanation for the statement in the last question: "... the fact that
19 you did not provide us with all the electropherograms for the analyses
20 that you did?"
21 I would like to know what that means.
22 Mr. Gajic.
23 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I think that
24 Mr. Tolimir's question is very clear. It was put in the context of
25 general practice, that the sources a particular expert uses for the
1 compilation of a list or an analysis should be indicated and available.
2 And this question was formulated in relation to that rule.
3 Mr. Vanderpuye said that there was no specific request for the
4 electropherograms, that the Defence didn't make such a request; that is
5 correct. Such a request has not been filed yet. However, we consider it
6 the obligation of the expert to indicate the sources that he used during
7 the compilation of his report and to submit them together with that
8 report, to submit them to the Court.
9 MR. VANDERPUYE: I would submit as follows, Mr. President --
10 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Wait a moment, please. I would like to draw your
11 attention again on the wording of this question: "Does that contradict
12 the fact that you" -- excuse me, please listen. "... the fact that you
13 did not provide us with all the electropherograms ..."
14 I would like to know what do you mean by "you" and what do you
15 mean by "us" to make it clear for all parties.
16 Mr. Gajic.
17 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. Tolimir used the phrase "us,"
18 whether it be the Defence, the Prosecution, or the Court. Either of the
19 parties. Either of the parties to the proceedings.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: In your understanding, was that - I just wanted
21 to know that - an obligation by this expert witness to provide the
22 Defence directly with information and data?
23 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] To all the parties, not only the
25 Our understanding is that when an expert submits a report, he
1 must clearly indicate the documentation and the sources that they used in
2 order to write the report. And in this case, what we would be dealing
3 with are very large lists. And then it would be clear what the source
4 is, and this source should be clearly indicated and readily available.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. This is now much more clear.
6 Mr. Vanderpuye.
7 MR. VANDERPUYE: There are two issues that arise from this,
8 Mr. President. The first thing is the so-called rule that Mr. Gajic is
9 referring to. I'm unaware of any such rule in our jurisprudence or in
10 any other jurisprudence concerning the availability in the form of the
11 production of the records for the purposes of the Defence regarding for
12 analytical purposes or for any other purpose. That's number one. There
13 is no such rule.
14 The second thing is, there's a difference between the
15 availability of the material and the production of the material. There's
16 nothing in this record that suggests that this material is unavailable or
17 has been unavailable to the Defence to inspect. The reason why they
18 don't have it, first and foremost, is because they never asked for it.
19 The second thing is that they do have in their possession several
20 electropherograms which they can examine, they can test, and they can
21 determine the reliability in general from which to extrapolate the
22 reliability of the match list that's been provided by ICMP concerning the
23 Srebrenica-related graves, and those are the Bisina-related case files.
24 I think there are 39 or 38 of them that they have. All of these files
25 contain the electropherograms upon which the identifications and the
1 matches were made. I can address those in redirect examination since we
2 have one such file already in evidence.
3 The other issue relates to the fact that Dr. Parsons did produce
4 a report which is also in evidence - I don't have the number in front of
5 me - but it is an ICMP methodology report that goes from 2001 to 2008.
6 In that report it specifically refers to the standard operating
7 procedures that were employed by the ICMP in the DNA identification
8 process during that period of time. All of those standard operating
9 procedures are specifically referenced in the document as I -- as I
10 mentioned in my summary at the beginning of his testimony --
11 MR. TOLIMIR: [No interpretation] [Overlapping speakers] ...
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, please, listen to Mr. Vanderpuye.
13 MR. VANDERPUYE: -- as I mentioned in the summary in the beginning
14 of my [sic] testimony. Okay. The methodology report, I understand, is
15 65 ter 2361. I don't recall what the P number is. But it references the
16 standard operating procedures that were followed in -- in processing
17 the -- the DNA profiles for the purposes of matching. All of them are
18 referred to in that report. The Defence has had access to that report
19 for a long time. They've had access to the standard operating procedures
20 for a long time. Those you can see, even in the exhibit list, are
21 numerous documents that show the kinds of instrumentation that's used,
22 the manner in which the DNA is processed, the process of intaking it,
23 matching it, declaring matches. All of this is in Dr. Parsons's report.
24 So to say that that material which is relied upon is not
25 identified or available is, frankly, not accurate, to say the least. And
1 I think that Mr. Gajic knows that.
2 And if we're talking specifically about the availability of
3 electropherograms, this is an issue which arose also in the Popovic case.
4 It's also arisen in the Karadzic case. Where, in the Karadzic case, a
5 specific request was made to have that material available, which
6 ultimately was never communicated to the ICMP by the Karadzic Defence.
7 And the same is true in this case. Worse in this case is that no
8 communication has been made by the Defence even to the Office of the
9 Prosecutor to attempt to have the ICMP produce that material or a request
10 made to the ICMP directly to -- to have access to that material, to have
11 it available.
12 The Defence is aware that there is certain confidential
13 information contained in those case files and that an extraordinary
14 amount of work has to go in to try and secure the necessary consents in
15 order to get family members who have depended upon the confidentiality of
16 that material to help them identify their loved ones; they know this.
17 And to bring it up at this stage of the proceedings and suggest that it
18 hasn't been made available to them I think is unfair and it's predicated
19 on an inaccurate record, one that I think the evidence clearly refutes.
20 And I just want to that be clear. If they have such a request,
21 it would be helpful if they had raised it well in advance of this.
22 Because this takes months and months and months of work on the part of
23 the ICMP to try to accommodate. Even the 39 files that we managed to get
24 in the Popovic case took months and months and months because it's a lot
25 of leg work that has to be done to contain this consent. And I
1 think -- I think Mr. Gajic is aware of that. Certainly, if he'd read the
2 record of the Popovic case he would be.
3 So I think it's an unfair position to put the witness in. I
4 think it's a misstatement of Law of the Tribunal. And it's also a
5 misrepresentation of the facts concerning the provision of those records.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Vanderpuye.
7 Mr. Gajic, what is your position?
8 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, the first point
9 regarding the rules whereby the sources on which an expert report is
10 based should be clearly referenced and made readily available is
11 well-established before -- this is the rule which is well-established
12 before this Tribunal, and I don't think I'll need much time to obtain it.
13 As for the availability of the ICMP data, well, it's clear from
14 the Popovic transcript and from my conversations with the individuals
15 involved in the Defence teams in the Popovic case that the material is
16 very difficult to obtain. We've also been able to hear from the expert
17 here that some of the electropherograms are not available at all. And it
18 was within that context that the question was formulated.
19 The witness gave a clear answer that there were such concern
20 difficulties, and I'll paraphrase. My understanding of what he said was
21 that it was almost impossible to provide the parties to a proceeding with
22 all the electropherograms. So why should be seeking them if it's
24 We are merely exploring the possibility of access to the
25 material. What we are raising here is a methodological question of how
1 the findings in the report can be verified. We haven't named any names.
2 We haven't accused the ICMP of failing to accommodate any of our
3 requests. We are quite clear on what the position of the ICMP is and we
4 were able to learn that from the previous cases.
5 The material we received from the Popovic case is something that
6 we looked at while preparing for this case. We received them roughly at
7 the same time when the Defence teams of the Popovic case received them.
8 But that's not enough. That's a couple of dozen electropherograms chosen
9 by the ICMP, according to the information I have, or that, at least, is
10 my understanding. That is absolutely insufficient to check a list
11 containing thousands upon thousands of names.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, I see you are still on your feet.
13 MR. VANDERPUYE: I am on my feet, Mr. President.
14 MR. GAJIC: [No interpretation]
15 MR. VANDERPUYE: I would suggest that if the Defence seeks access
16 to this information that we meet with them, or they can meet with us. I
17 think we can sort this issue out without using up valuable Court time.
18 The question, as I objected to it, was -- the basis of my objection was
19 because it was suggestive of the fact that the Defence was deprived of
20 information that they should otherwise have received.
21 I understand Mr. Gajic's clarification. And I think with that
22 understanding we can go forward. We'll talk with the Defence and work
23 out the disposition of their -- maybe they have a request, maybe they
24 don't, for this material, but I think we can proceed so that we don't use
25 up any more time on this issue.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: In my understanding, this is a very reasonable
3 Mr. Gajic, you want to respond?
4 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Yes, I'll respond very briefly.
5 The Defence will file appropriate requests, of course. This is
6 an ongoing trial. We will be hearing this witness, but the trial isn't
7 over yet. And we will be approaching you on this issue once this witness
8 has testified.
9 I do believe that Mr. Tolimir is entitled to put the sort of
10 question he formulated. He wants to see what the practice of writing the
11 reports was and what the possibilities for checking the data contained in
12 the reports are.
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I would like to suggest that the parties liaise
14 and meet and try to come to a common understanding. And it's, of course,
15 open for the Defence to file any motion in this respect.
16 MR. GAJIC: [No interpretation] [Overlapping speakers] ...
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: You may do what is your interest of your client.
18 We should continue the cross-examination.
19 Mr. Tolimir.
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. This is
21 what I'd like to ask the witness.
22 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
23 Q. Does the OTP have a monopoly over the data that he, as an expert,
24 used for the purposes of the analysis presented before the Trial Chamber?
25 Thank you.
1 A. Absolutely not.
2 Q. Thank you. Were the lists - and I emphasise the lists - of the
3 ICMP of confidential nature; and, if so, why? And I'm referring to the
4 lists, not the electropherograms.
5 A. The basis for requesting that the lists be kept confidential, as
6 they reflect a list of names of individuals on DNA match reports, relates
7 to, again, the privacy of the traumatised families involved, particularly
8 with regard to the issue of their notification of their loved one's death
9 and information relating to its case. We would not want a family to
10 first become aware that their family member has been DNA matched through
11 watching these court proceedings.
12 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons. I asked you clearly to tell -- to tell
13 me about the lists and not about the matches or the electropherograms.
14 My question was why the lists of those missing from Srebrenica
15 themselves are of confidential nature. And I mean the lists that do not
16 include any family names or the data contained in electropherograms.
17 A. The lists that we provide do contain the family names.
18 Q. Thank you. The ICRC also provides names of those missing. So
19 why are their lists in the public domain and yours are not? Can you
20 explain this for the Trial Chamber?
21 A. The list that we provided that, has been discussed greatly, is
22 not a list of the missing; it's the list of the identified.
23 Q. I'm not asking you about the list of the identified. I was
24 asking you about the list of the missing persons that you keep as
25 confidential. Why is that so?
1 A. I'm sorry, what -- you'll have to specify. What list of missing
2 persons? I am unaware of any that has been presented or discussed here
3 in this courtroom.
4 Q. I'm referring to the same list that is kept by the ICRC, the list
5 of missing persons that is then used for the purposes of this Tribunal.
6 Does your institution, the ICMP, does it not keep a list of missing
7 persons? After all, that is your name.
8 A. Thank you. It's more clear now.
9 Yes, as I have indicated earlier, we have a list of persons
10 reported to the ICMP missing as a result of the conflict and -- and for
11 which we have received genetic reference samples.
12 I -- I beg the pardon of the Court that I'm not positive what the
13 ICMP's position is regarding the confidentiality of that list itself.
14 Q. Thank you. I understand your position, so I will not belabour
15 the point.
16 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Can we now have 1D597 shown in
18 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation] While we're waiting for it to
19 appear, let me tell you that that's a document, according to the
20 information that we have, that you provided to the OTP. It's titled: "A
21 comprehensive overview or list of technical procedures related to DNA
22 processes at the International Commission for Missing Persons."
23 The report was created on the 14th of April, 2010.
24 This is my question: Can you tell us, why was it asked of you to
25 draw up a report of this sort? And when I say "you," I mean the
1 commission. Thank you.
2 A. It was not asked of us to draw up this report. This report was
3 drawn up upon our own request. And it was intended to provide an
4 independent analysis an information by leading experts in the world of
5 forensic science, relating to the identification or the DNA match by the
6 ICMP of Colonel Avdo Palic, of the remains of Colonel Avdo Palic, and the
7 match of a DNA profile from him to his family members.
8 With regard to this case, it is unfortunate that the ICMP had
9 obtained a bone sample from Colonel -- what proved to be Colonel Palic in
10 2001 and generated a DNA profile from that bone sample in 2002 that
11 should have been able to affect a DNA match at that time. Due to an
12 extremely unusual combination of human clerical error in sample name
13 entry into an instrument and a completely unanticipated software glitch,
14 as we've come to call it, with regard to how data was subsequently output
15 from the instrument, the result of that unusual combination was that the
16 DNA profile was entered into the ICMP comparison database in an incorrect
17 form, one that prevented it from being matched. And this occasioned a
18 very unfortunate delay in the discovery of this match, which was not
19 identified until 2009.
20 The reason it was discovered in 2009 is because, under my
21 direction, the ICMP, with a constant emphasis on doing the best work that
22 we can, instituted a full technical review of all previously unmatched
23 DNA profiles from the early periods of the ICMP operation. So all DNA
24 profiles from victim samples that had not matched any family references
25 underwent a full de novo technical review with the aim of seeing if there
1 was any improvements we could make in those genetic profiles as a result
2 of improved technical capabilities or additional runs of the data, in
3 order to find matches. We found very, very few cases where additional
4 identifications could be made out of these 1.582 unmatched profiles that
5 we examined. One of them was -- allowed us -- one of them was the case
6 of Colonel Palic. We found the cause of the -- of the lack of previous
7 identification, and we were very concerned about that delay. And
8 moreover, we were concerned about the perceptions that such a delay
9 would -- might be occasioned amongst stakeholders and families regarding
10 the ICMP's work. Many, many people continue to wait anxiously for the
11 identification of their loved ones and -- and a delay of such a magnitude
12 in an identification would occasion concern.
13 So with regard to that, and with an emphasis on full transparency
14 within the bounds of personal data protection that has already been
15 discussed, we invited a team of highly regarded international experts to
16 perform a full independent review of the cause of the delay of the
17 identification of Colonel Palic, as well as an open-ended and
18 wide-ranging investigation as to the extent to which the problems
19 involved in the Palic case could be seen to be systematic, the extent to
20 which similar problems might have occurred, and the extent to which, in
21 general, the ICMP's system is effective, reliable, responsible, ethical,
22 and conducted with high integrity. And that is the nature of the report
23 that is -- that's placed in front of the Court today, right now.
24 Q. Please, what is the customary period that lapses from the moment
25 a sample is taken for the DNA analysis to the moment the DNA results are
1 obtained? Thank you.
2 A. I'll talk about some of the factors that influence the amount of
3 time it takes to make a DNA match.
4 First of all, it depends upon the back-log of DNA samples that we
5 have. Particularly in the early days of ICMP's operation, we had vast
6 numbers of bone samples available for DNA typing. These would be --
7 these would come from operations at the ICTY and other mass graves that
8 had been exhumed to the point where our high throughput DNA laboratory
9 process took some months in order to -- to process the back-log. Today,
10 there's a much less delay between obtaining a sample and producing a DNA
11 profile from that sample. Minimally, it might be several weeks. It's
12 not unusual for it to take longer, given that any given sample is in
13 process with a large number of other samples. So in general, weeks to
14 months, a small number of months, delay between obtaining a sample and
15 obtaining a DNA profile from it should it be possible to obtain such a
17 Some cases are difficult and require multiple attempts to extract
18 the DNA. Sometimes we'll even request that an additional sample be sent
19 from the same case because -- to further augment the quality and quantity
20 of DNA that we receive from the case. So there are many variables that
21 go into it.
22 So far I have spoken only about obtaining a DNA profile from a
23 bone sample. With regard to making a match, there are additional steps
24 involved. And one absolutely critical component is that there has to be
25 family reference samples that the DNA profile from the victim can match.
1 So if we already have family reference samples in the database and we
2 obtain a DNA profile and upload it to the database, generally that match
3 will be found very, very quickly, because the computerised processes are
4 largely automatic. And then it would take on the order of maybe a couple
5 of additional weeks for all the appropriate review processes to occur.
6 Now, it wouldn't take that long if we had only one case to worry
7 about, but we operate in a very large batch mode, and so that's why --
8 that's what accounts for the time-periods that I'm representing as
10 In the case of Colonel Palic, in fact we did not obtain family
11 reference samples that would permit his identification until 2005. So,
12 actually, when we first obtained a DNA profile from that bone sample in
13 2002, we would not have been able to match it until 2005. And that is
14 exemplary of a reason why in many instances there is a many-year delay
15 between obtaining a bone profile from the victim and obtaining a match
16 because we don't yet have the requisite family reference samples. They
17 continue to come in. When they get them, they go into the database and
18 then a match will be very quickly made.
19 Q. Please, I tried to pick out the actual conclusion and what it was
20 out of the answer you gave me.
21 So can you answer me next question.
22 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] But before that, can we have page 7
23 of this report shown.
24 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
25 Q. On that page there is question number one. And I'm quoting:
1 "Why has it been seven years between the time the 9100507 bone DNA
2 profile was entered into the database and the 2009 match to Colonel
3 Palic's relatives?"
4 You've just told us that you received the donor samples only in
5 2005. So can you please describe for us the nature of the error which
6 occurred in the procedure related to this particular sample, with the bar
7 code 9100507? Thank you.
8 A. Yes, I think I'll be able to give you some indication of that. I
9 would also like to note, as this report is in evidence in the court, that
10 an extremely detailed and comprehensive description is present in this
11 report. And I would not be capable in any way of expanding or making it
12 more clear than what is written here.
13 And I fear that if I try to go through the explanation in
14 substantial detail that will we'll be bogged down in some technical
15 procedures that will probably not mean very much to the Court and take a
16 great deal of time.
17 With that said, I have no objection to any depth that we would
18 like do go into. But let me take a -- an attempt at an abbreviated and,
19 I hope, clear explanation of basically what happened. In fact, I already
20 made reference to it.
21 When a sample is loaded onto the primary instrument that provides
22 the DNA profile, the software that runs that instrument require -- that
23 was run at that time requires the sample name to be entered into two
24 different places in the -- with regard to a particular sample. This --
25 this 9100507 sample actually was entered correctly in the two places,
1 where you have to put the same information in two separate spots.
2 However, the sample following that was run on the same instrument had its
3 correct number added. But inadvertently, as a result of human error, in
4 the second place where that person had to indicate the sample, it was
5 erroneously entered as this 9100507.
6 The instrument was then run and an output of the DNA data was
7 generated, and in -- in a phenomenon, if you will, that was completely
8 unknown and completely -- by anyone that I'm aware of, certainly unknown
9 to the ICMP and unanticipated by the ICMP, is that instead of some kind
10 of an error message associated with this incorrect entry, the computer
11 instead exported a hybrid profile for 9100507 that contained part of the
12 information from the authentic sample and part of the information from
13 the following sample, creating a hybrid genetic profile that was not
14 capable of being matched to the Palic reference samples when they came in
16 That's the -- that's the primary cause of the problem.
17 I will say, also, that there would be -- a secondary cause to the
18 problem is that that was not detected via a review process. It -- it --
19 it should have been but it was not.
20 Q. Thank you.
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Can we please have page 10,
22 paragraph 2.
23 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
24 Q. And I'm quoting from it. You can read it for yourself.
25 "Data review is one of many quality control mechanisms that help
1 identify and prevent incorrect DNA profiles from being uploaded to a
2 database. Documentation from 2001 was not available to verify either the
3 existence of a review procedure," et cetera.
4 This is my question: What sort of documentation from 2001 is
5 referred to here and why was it not available?
6 A. At that time, the ICMP standard operating procedures did not
7 unambiguously delineate what the -- what the review process should have
8 been. That was prior to ICMP's accreditation and also prior to
9 continuing development of highly specific standard operating procedures
10 that would have been able to indicate precisely what was done at that
12 The paragraph continues, immediately following the section that
13 was just read, that was:
14 "Anecdotally, the panel" - that's the expert panel in conducting
15 this elevations - "was informed that in order for a DNA profile from the
16 unidentified human remains to be submitted by the Sarajevo laboratory,"
17 et cetera, "a review process would have been conducted."
18 So we were able to interview people present in the laboratory at
19 that time. And even though the procedures were not documented, it was
20 the general practice that the type of error that occurred here should
21 have been caught. So it was a deficiency in what was the standard
22 practice at the time.
23 Q. Thank you.
24 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we please have page 13.
25 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
1 Q. And my question is this: This checking of the DNA sample that
2 was taken from mass graves, as we can see, based on this text, it was
3 done by Esma Palic. It says on this page:
4 "In 2007, Ms. Esma Palic submitted in writing a request to the
5 ICMP to reinvestigate specific bones from the Vragolovi grave-site."
6 My question is: Are such requests frequent in the practice of
7 the ICMP? And why did Mrs. Palic call these specific bones from the
8 Vragolovi grave-site?
9 A. Relating to the first part of your question, I'll say that the
10 ICMP gets very large numbers of inquiries from family members checking on
11 the status of their cases, and these can be along the lines of, I gave my
12 blood sample years ago; I still haven't heard anything; what's going on?
13 And we would normally then check the databases to make sure that
14 the family's blood samples are properly in the database, that they reside
15 there, and report back to them that, you know, We're sorry there hasn't
16 been a match. Apparently no victim sample has come to match your
18 So the -- all kinds of inquiries regarding the status of cases
19 come really on almost a daily basis to the ICMP. And that's our
20 relationship with families, that we try to provide with information. So
21 in some respects the request by Mrs. Palic was not particularly unusual
22 of the standpoint of queries that come in to the identification
23 coordination division. But, in fact, the case of Avdo Palic was rather
24 unique in a number of regards, and there was a great deal of
25 international attention addressed to the attempt to recover the remains
1 of Colonel Palic. There's a great deal of investigative activity outside
2 of the ICMP, and we responded on many occasions to evacuations
3 specifically related to the possibility that Colonel Palic might be in a
4 particular grave.
5 So I do not actually know what information came into the
6 possession of Mrs. Palic or the Office of the High Representative
7 relating to this particular grave, called here Vragolovi. But they did
8 have some other information based on other investigations that caused
9 them to inquire of the ICMP to check and see if that could -- if those
10 could be related to Colonel Palic.
11 What happened in response to this inquiry, as far as we've been
12 able to reconstruct, is that the identification coordination division
13 went to the databases to check to determine if a DNA profile was entered
14 for the victim sample, if there were DNA profiles that had been entered
15 for the family samples, and if those DNA profiles were consistent with
16 each other. And, unfortunately, because a incorrect hybrid profile was
17 in the database associated with the sample that came to be identified as
18 Colonel Palic, they, when compared this information, said, No, it's not a
20 So when we followed up on that inquiry, it was at the level of
21 the profiles that exist in the database and the fact that as they existed
22 in the database there was not a match. The ICMP would prefer it, in
23 hindsight, if that inquiry had triggered a full technical review of that
24 particular DNA profile, in which case we would have found the error, most
25 likely, and been able to make the identification at that time.
1 Unfortunately, it was not until we conducted our own retrospective
2 analysis, again with the emphasis on doing all we could to resolve as
3 many cases as we can, that we identified the error and reported it as
4 quickly as we could thereupon, after additional rounds of confirmatory
5 testing to make sure that the -- that the problem had been appropriately
7 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons. Since the initial DNA results of the
8 profile were negative, was the ICMP presented with specific reasons why
9 Mrs. Palic thought that the remains of her husband were in the
10 Vragolovi grave-site?
11 A. Not that I am aware of.
12 Q. Since there was a number of problems in this case, did the ICMP
13 determine that -- the time of disappearance of Mr. Palic, and did they
14 use their specific methods for that? Or did they have certain
15 information that wasn't contested by either of the sides; in this case,
16 the family?
17 A. The ICMP did not perform, as far as I'm aware, any investigation
18 into the time of disappearance of Mr. Palic, other than what would have
19 been recorded in the family information such as I had discussed
21 Q. Thank you. I will repeat my question. You said when he went
22 missing. Did you have information on when he was killed, when he died?
23 Did you have any information about that in your records? Was that
24 provided by the family and those who provided bone samples? Those who
25 were the donors.
1 A. We may have been exposed anecdotally to some information; but,
2 no, there was no formal transfer of what I would called evidentiary
3 information. It was -- it's just not the area that we're concerned with.
4 The ICMP has not been engaged in investigating the disappearance of
5 Colonel Palic.
6 Q. Thank you.
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Can we now look at page 26 in
8 e-court, please.
9 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
10 Q. It's by this expert panel. And they made some recommendations.
11 And, as we can see, that: "... the quality check of the bone DNA
12 profiles from 2001 to 2004 should be continued to completion."
13 And on page 27, in e-court --
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we see page 27.
15 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
16 Q. -- you say: "Review and validation of the Forensic Data
17 Management System by an independent third party should be continued."
18 Could you explain what you meant by this and who that independent
19 third party is? Thank you.
20 A. Reference was made to two separate of the recommendations. The
21 first one you referred to was completion of this retrospective date
22 review, which required a vast amount of effort in terms of identifying
23 samples where we could re-run the tests on the original DNA extract or go
24 back and re-extract DNA from the samples again. It has been a
25 long-standing process, but it has been completed.
1 And, in fact, from these 1.582 profiles that were previously
2 unmatched, we were able to make 16 additional matches. That's a vast
3 amount of work for that level of matching, but we're very pleased to have
4 been able to resolve those cases.
5 It was the conclusion of the expert panel that that -- the level
6 of -- of additional matches that we were able to make was consistent with
7 a process that was highly effect and efficient throughout, and highly
9 With regard to external validation of our database system called
10 the Forensic Database Management System, we have been pursuing an
11 arrangement with a German company who has reviewed the database with
12 regard to programming characteristics in line with industry standards for
13 software review. And we are now looking into the second phase of this --
14 this additional quality control validation step of an external party.
15 So, yes, that is in process.
16 That shouldn't be taken to indicate that there's been no form of
17 validation of the Forensic Data Management System. It has undergone a
18 wide -- a large battery of internal user acceptance tests and performance
19 tests, and it is considered by us to be internally validated. We were
20 just looking to -- to continually increase the level of quality-control
21 parameters that we have at our disposal.
22 Q. Thank you. Bearing in mind what you said, when can the parties
23 in this procedure expect a report on such a review?
24 A. I'm sorry, what review? Oh, the validation of the -- the
25 external validation of the FDMS; is that what you're referring to?
1 Q. Yes. Thank you.
2 A. It's not clear to me at this point when that will be completed.
3 Most likely this year.
4 To be honest with you, it's not one of our absolute highest
5 priorities because we think that there's very little risk that this
6 system is causing any problems.
7 Q. Mr. Parsons, please tell us whether I am correct if I say that
8 the identification conducted by DNA is too early until --
9 THE INTERPRETER: Could the accused please repeat the end of his
10 question. The interpreter didn't catch it.
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, the interpreter didn't catch the end
12 of your question. They interpreted only until the words: "The
13 identification conducted by DNA is too early until ..." The rest is
14 missing. Could you please repeat it.
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
16 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
17 Q. Is the identification carried out by DNA considered preliminary
18 until it is confirmed by the pathologist and the family of the missing
20 A. The official finding of death is -- is determined by a
21 pathologist who takes into account the DNA match report. I don't believe
22 that the family of the missing is -- plays a legal role in the
23 determination of death. However, it's -- it's always the case that the
24 family is presented with the information, and a very important component
25 of the identification is the hand-over of the remains to the families.
1 Q. Thank you. Since you said that it's the pathologist who
2 officially determines and decides on the time of death, is that also the
3 case, or was that also the case, with Mr. Palic? Thank you.
4 A. You make specific reference to the time of death, and that's not
5 generally something that even a pathologist is going to be able to
7 Q. Thank you. If the Court needed us to establish when exactly
8 Mr. Palic was killed, could you give us some advice on how this Court
9 could obtain that information, perhaps through some other organs and
10 commissions? Thank you.
11 A. Actually, no. I don't feel like I myself personally could do
12 that. Such information would be dependant upon an investigation
13 involving such things as witnesses, site analyses, et cetera. But I
14 don't -- I'm not in a position, as I sit here, to recommend particular
15 organs or commissions that would be involved in that.
16 Q. Thank you. Please tell us whether DNA analysis can be used to
17 establish the time of death based on the degree of bone decomposition.
18 A. Actually, no, there's really not any useful information to be
19 obtained there.
20 Q. Thank you. So, based on what is it determined that somebody
21 disappeared two billion years ago, which is included in some scientific
22 analyses? And they are referring to the decomposition time of uranium
23 that is located in the bones.
24 A. I think you're fundamentally confused. Nobody disappeared two
25 billion years ago because humans had not yet evolved, anywhere close to
1 that time. And I don't think that decomposition of uranium in bones is
2 used for any dating.
3 Q. I wasn't referring to bone decomposition, but the time needed for
4 the decomposition of -- the time of carbonating [as interpreted]. That's
5 what I was referring to. It might have been misinterpreted.
6 A. I'm sorry, carbon dating you're referring to?
7 Q. Yes, that's correct.
8 A. I'm not an expert on -- on molecular methods of dating. I'm only
9 peripherally as a scientist exposed to that. Carbon-14 dating, as I am
10 aware, insofar as I'm aware, is not applicable to the time-frames that
11 we're dealing with, with regard to the current conflict -- or, the
12 conflict in the former Yugoslavia.
13 Q. Thank you for your answers. Thank you for directing us to
14 examine this through some others, through some eye-witnesses perhaps, and
15 for saying that this could not be done through DNA analysis.
16 Could you tell us, what is the usual time-period from the moment
17 a DNA profile is matched by the commission until the families are
18 informed of a particular person having been identified? Thank you.
19 A. Presumably, it would be possible to give you a databased average
20 value. I apologise that I don't have that information available to me
21 now. I would have to confer with and assemble at some effort that
22 information from Dr. Kesetovic at the Podrinje Identification Project.
23 But let me talk a little bit about the factor that affect the
24 time between submission of a DNA match report and the final closure of
25 the case in coordination with the families.
1 The complex grave assemblages associated with Srebrenica, where
2 very large primary graves were established and then by the perpetrators
3 re-exhumed and then buried in a series of clandestine graves throughout
4 the countryside some months later created a situation that has greatly
5 complicated the family notification and case-closure process. Because it
6 is commonly the case for different parts of the same body to have been
7 disassociated and be in separate parts of the same secondary grave or, in
8 many, many instances, also in different secondary graves. And these can
9 be linked together by DNA in some quite comprehensive ways to establish a
10 pattern of linkages between graves, and we have done that.
11 However, with regard to family notifications, we have a situation
12 where, at the mortuary facility, there may be a large series of
13 partial-remains cases being examined and sampled for DNA. Based on all
14 the results already obtained, we know that there's a linkage between one
15 of these graves and several other of the graves, all of which may be in
16 examination at the same time.
17 So I have a situation where a DNA match report is generated,
18 let's say, on the lower leg of an individual; it's highly traumatic to go
19 to the families and say, We've made an identification on a body part of
20 your loved one but we don't know where the remainder of that individual
21 is; and if it's in a situation where it is reasonably anticipated that
22 additional body parts from the same individual will be discovered,
23 sometimes there a delay in notifying the family until we feel like
24 multiple of these grave have been sufficiently examined and tested.
25 Now, that's evolved a little bit, because in the application of
1 that kind of logic, the -- the counter-argument to that type of an
2 approach is that the families are desperately waiting for word of their
3 loved ones, and we don't want to incur undue delay in -- in notification.
4 So it is presently the policy at PIP that the family would be notified
5 relatively directly after the receipt of the first DNA match report. But
6 in the past there has been some delay. And these considerations have
7 been communicated to the families to try to understand what their desires
8 are; would they prefer to wait until most of the individual has been
9 reassociated. And there's a diversity of opinion, but we try to take
10 into account the generally-expressed feelings of the families. But now
11 notification is quite direct after having received the remains.
12 Another component of the case closure -- so that's notification
13 of the families. That's telling the families, We have a DNA report;
14 here's the status of the case; and would you like us to hand these
15 remains over to you? In instances there, the families, even having been
16 notified, may request that the case be remain -- remain open until
17 additional of the remains had been -- have been found.
18 So that's an additional reason why there's some cases where the
19 families have been notified but the case isn't closed yet. And I don't
20 know the -- I don't know the numbers of those.
21 And then lastly, there can be variable delay between obtaining a
22 DNA match and case closure because it simply takes a lot of time to pull
23 all the different cases out. So -- we've found instance where an
24 individual has been reassociated by eight or ten separate body parts all
25 with a unique DNA test. And then that -- all those cases have to be
1 re-examined, the personal effects that may have been associated need to
2 be examined, and it's -- it's a time-consuming process when you're
3 dealing with so many -- so many samples. So that's another reason why
4 there may be a bit of a back-log with regard to case closure.
5 So if I may follow up with what I think is relevant information,
6 currently DNA match reports have been issued by the ICMP on 6.441
7 individuals reported missing from Srebrenica.
8 With regard to closure of those cases by the legal authorities at
9 the Podrinje Identification Project, the number of cases closed there is
10 5.160, according to the most recent information I have. So you see that
11 this is an bit of a -- there is a bit of a discrepancy between those
12 numbers, or difference between those numbers, let's say, that relates to
13 the conditions that I've just explained.
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: After having received this detailed explanation,
15 I think it's now the right time for the second break.
16 We will resume at 1.00.
17 --- Recess taken at 12.30 p.m.
18 --- On resuming at 1.02 p.m.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, Mr. Tolimir, please continue your
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
22 The Defence would like to finish their cross-examination. And
23 I'd like to thank the witness for the answers he gave to us and the
24 Prosecution. I apologise if there were questions that he regarded as
25 unscientific or lacking expertise, but we needed information from him.
1 We wish him a safe trip home. May God bless him.
2 And I think we've been within our time-limits, Your Honours. We
3 don't want to be held liable for him possibly him having to stay over the
5 Thank you.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, are you not only within the
7 time-limit, you used only approximately half of the time you indicated at
8 the beginning. Of course, it is it appreciated, but, on the other hand,
9 it is your decision. But I would agree with you; we are all laypersons
10 to these detailed scientific facts we were provided with. This is the
11 reason why the witness is here and why we can ask him.
12 Mr. Gajic.
13 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] The Defence would like to note, in
14 public, that we would like to meet with the witness, if possible, after
15 the adjournment in order to obtain information about the availability of
16 the ICMP archives.
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, it's your witness.
18 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
19 I'm sure that's possible. I do have a brief redirect
20 examination, though, in the meantime.
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Before you continue, I would like to ask the
22 Defence if you are tendering the document 1D597 you used with the
24 Mr. Gajic.
25 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. President. We've neglected
1 to do so, and we would like to tendered it into evidence.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be received.
3 THE REGISTRAR: As Exhibit D170, Your Honours.
4 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
5 Mr. Vanderpuye, your re-examination.
6 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
7 Re-examination by Mr. Vanderpuye:
8 Q. Good afternoon to you, Dr. Parsons.
9 MR. VANDERPUYE: Good afternoon, everyone.
10 Q. Dr. Parsons, in response to General Tolimir's question in
11 particular concerning the independent expert review, at page 50, I think
12 it's lines 1 through 5, you made a reference to one of the factors that
13 influenced the length of -- length of time in which to make an
14 identification was a back-log of DNA. Do you recall giving an answer
15 along those lines to one of General Tolimir's questions?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And I just wanted to find out, at the moment, can you tell us
18 approximately how large a back-log, if any, of bone samples remains to be
20 A. Presently we don't have a large back-log of samples waiting in
21 queue for DNA. There remains in mortuaries many cases that need to be
22 examined and sampled for DNA, or re-examined. Very often one result will
23 provide information that will require additional tests to be made.
24 So there is a continuing, ongoing DNA testing programme. And
25 also there are remains that need to be found in the graves and exhumed,
1 and those will also be tested.
2 Q. You mentioned at some point in your cross-examination - I don't
3 have the exact reference there - but you made some reference to certain
4 information that is confidential with respect to the raw DNA data. Do
5 you recall -- do you recall that?
6 A. I believe I do, yes.
7 Q. Can you tell us what specifically about raw DNA data would
8 require the ICMP to keep that information confidential?
9 A. In general, DNA profiles are considered to be sensitive, private
10 information. They're unique identifiers of the individual. So the raw
11 DNA data, for example, the electropherogram data or the list of numbers
12 that represent that, that we refer to as a DNA profile, is -- is
13 generally considered to be data that should be protected.
14 Moreover, and of more importance to us at the ICMP, we're dealing
15 with families that have been traumatised and had members of their
16 families murdered for -- for who they are. And they have very real
17 concerns for their security and how their personal data is used. Our
18 intent is to be able to return their loved ones to them. And we don't
19 want them to be dissuaded from participating in this process, which can
20 be considered a basic human right to know the fate of your loved ones, by
21 additional concerns relighted to whether or not the -- who they believe
22 to be the perpetrator of these deeds is going to have access to their
23 genetic information. Whether or not their genetic information, if
24 divulged to a third party, will wind up in some other database that is
25 used to identify them. All these kind of concerns.
1 So it -- it's absolutely essentially, for the role that we play,
2 that the families have the greatest degree of comfort possible with
3 regard to the security of their genetic data. And that's the basis of
4 our protection policies.
5 Q. If you were required -- now, I understand that you've changed --
6 there was some change to the consent forms that were used in order to
7 obtain, as it were, blood samples from donors, I think you indicated, in
8 around 2007; is that right?
9 A. That is what I indicated. But I have to emphasis: I'm not
10 positive when that change came into effect. I believe it is documented
11 in previous testimony.
12 Q. And I would assume that there were a number of samples that were
13 taken in advance of this change, probably several thousand. Would that
14 be fair to say?
15 A. Oh, a great majority of the samples were obtained prior to that
17 Q. And with respect to the provision of those samples, if you were
18 required to produce them without obtaining the consent of the family
19 members, if you were inquired by court order or by some other means, can
20 you tell us what impact that would have on the ICMP's efforts in Bosnia,
21 or it's outreach programmes, and the ability to carry on the operation of
22 identifying victims?
23 A. It would be essentially a mission destroying violation of the
24 trust that has been established between the ICMP and the families, and,
25 basically, I think, an end to our ability to do the type of work that we
1 do, for the families to feel that their information can be -- can be
2 obtained from us against the agreements that we've made with the
4 Q. I wanted to show you --
5 MR. VANDERPUYE: If we could not broadcast this. And I think it
6 has now a P number. Just a moment.
7 [Prosecution counsel confer]
8 MR. VANDERPUYE: P1939.
9 Q. This is a -- I believe what we identified as case file on --
10 provided by the ICMP, concerning Bisina 01 Sekovici, and I think it's
11 body number 40, that we looked at earlier. And a lot of reference has
12 been made to electropherograms and the raw data during your
14 What I wanted to show you was page 7, I think, of this document.
15 A. This should be under --
16 Q. The next page --
17 A. This should not be publicly disclosed.
18 Q. That's right. It's --
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: No, nothing of that will be broadcast.
20 MR. VANDERPUYE:
21 Q. First, do you recognise what we have on the screen now?
22 A. Yeah. This is an electropherogram printout.
23 Q. And if you could just, in the simplest of terms, briefly explain
24 what it shows.
25 A. Well, that's an indication of the alleles, which vary much in
1 the -- which are variable in the population, that are present in this
2 individual at 15 different chromosomal loci, plus an additional locus
3 that indicates the sex of the individual, and that's the two peaks on the
4 third panel that's marked X and Y. The rest of them are nuclear STR
5 markers. And the numbers that you see listed underneath the peaks are
6 the allelic values associated with the particular locus.
7 As you look at this, you'll observe that they -- the peaks appear
8 in pairs often. And those would be, in one instance, the maternal
9 contribution and in the other instance the paternal contribution of an
10 allele to that individual's genetic profile. Sometimes at a locus
11 there's only one peak and that means that the individual inherited the
12 same sized allele from both his mother and father and therefore you only
13 have one peek at a locus instead of two even though they do have two
14 copies of that same one.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic, I see you on your feet.
16 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, can I make a
17 suggestion. Can the witness mark the points he's referring to as he is
18 speaking, because as we look at the image now, it's not quite clear which
19 portion of the electropherogram is being referred to.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: This is a very fair suggestion.
21 Mr. Vanderpuye.
22 MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, Mr. President.
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: With the Court Usher's assistance, the witness
24 may do that.
25 THE WITNESS: Thank you. I believe that will be easier for us.
1 So we have on here a series of peaks that represent alleles. So
2 this would be one pair of alleles at a particular locus. So we see a
3 peak associated with something that is sized as 15 and something that is
4 sized as 16. And one of those two peaks, one of those two alleles, would
5 have been inherited from the mother and the other allele would have been
6 inherited from the father. So there's a series of these loci; there's 15
7 of them represented. Here's one where we see only a single peak at that
8 locus, and in that case the individual inherited a 12 allele from both
9 his mother and his father and that's why there's only a single peak
11 I mentioned, about a locus, that indicates the sex of an
12 individual. That would be this one. And it's labelled X and Y. And
13 that has no information except whether the individual is a male or a
14 female. If the individual is a female, there will be one peek labelled
15 X. If it's a male, there'll be two peaks; one labelled X, the other
16 labelled Y.
17 MR. VANDERPUYE: I'd like to tender this marked exhibit, please,
18 Mr. President.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: And in combination with the transcript, I think
20 it's clear what these circles depict.
21 It will be received.
22 THE REGISTRAR: As Exhibit 1941, Your Honours.
23 MR. VANDERPUYE:
24 Q. Dr. Parsons, with respect to a match that is found or declared by
25 the ICMP in accordance with the minimum threshold value for surety, the
1 information that is found on the electropherograms, is that reflected on
2 the match report?
3 A. Yes. These allelic values, once reviewed, are listed on the DNA
4 match report just by virtue of the -- the numbers associated with these
6 Q. And are these values, as derived from the electropherograms,
7 listed on each match report, for example, in the list that we've tendered
8 here into evidence where you've indicated some 6.441 matches were found?
9 A. Yes, they are.
10 Q. Is a case file for each of these matches generated by the ICMP?
11 A. Not in the form that we would submit for review such as would be
12 requested in the Bisina case.
13 Q. Okay. Do you mean to distinguish that from an electronic -- is
14 it kept in an electronic form as opposed to a hard-copy form?
15 A. That's right. Out data is very carefully archived, both
16 electronically and in hard copy, but is not maintained in separate case
17 files. So to bring this information together for a single case requires
18 substantial effort of collation, printing out, obtaining, checking,
19 reviewing that everything that's in there that should be in there is in
20 there. It's a very laborious process even for a single case.
21 Q. And just roughly speaking, in order to produce these case files
22 as the -- as the one we have in front of us, are they roughly the size of
23 the file that we have in front of us? Here we have a file that's well
24 over a hundred pages in hard copy. But are they generally of that size,
1 A. More or less, yes. A hundred would seem large to me. But on the
2 order of 50-some-odd pages, I would imagine.
3 Q. Just for the record, the one we have here is about 131 pages.
4 A. From a single case; is that correct?
5 Q. From a single case. All right. I'm finished with this exhibit.
6 I'd like to ask you just a couple of other questions, if I may.
7 You were asked about the independent expert review, on
8 cross-examination, and I wanted to ask you a few questions arising from
10 MR. VANDERPUYE: It's marked as D170. If we could have that in
11 e-court, please, that would be helpful.
12 Q. First I just wanted to focus you on the composition of the panel.
13 You indicated, I think, on cross-examination that these were noted
14 experts in the field of DNA analysis. Is that fair to say?
15 A. It's very fair to say, yes.
16 Q. Can you tell us a little bit about each of the individuals that
17 comprise this panel?
18 A. Yes. Quite briefly, we have four individuals; two from the
19 United States and two from Europe. Dr. Ingo Bastisch is the head of the
20 Human DNA Laboratory for the Federal Criminal Police of Germany. And he
21 is also the chairman of the DNA group of the European Network of Forensic
22 Science Institutes.
23 Dr. Cecelia Crouse is the chief scientific officer of the
24 West Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, which is a highly
25 technologically-advanced criminalistics laboratory in the United States,
1 and she plays a very important role in the national scientific working
2 group on DNA analysis methods in the United States.
3 Professor Niels Morling is the director of the Department of
4 Forensic Medicine at the University of Copenhagen and operates a very
5 large and technology-advanced laboratory and moreover is president of the
6 International Society on Forensic Genetics, the most prominent
7 professional organisation relating to DNA typing in human identity.
8 And then lastly is Dr. Mechthild Prinz, the director of forensic
9 biology from the New York City office of the Chief Medical Examiner. And
10 her laboratory system was involved in the World Trade Centre
11 identifications, involving thousands of DNA tests of a similar nature to
12 that which is performed at the ICMP.
13 Q. Thanks for that. I'm just going ask you to slow down a little
15 A. I apologise.
16 Q. I want to take you to some sections in the report itself.
17 MR. VANDERPUYE: If we could go to page 12. Yes, that's right.
18 And just under item number 2.
19 Q. About midway through, the report talks about an intense and
20 comprehensive review of each of the 1.582 DNA profiles. These are the
21 profiles I think you eluded to in your cross-examination that were
23 A. That's correct.
24 Q. It then reads that:
25 "It was obvious to the expert review panel that a good-faith
1 effort has been made by the ICMP to provide a complete accounting of the
2 status of each of the 1.582 unmatched profiles as evidenced by the
3 inordinate amount of research and analysis conducted by the Sarajevo DNA
4 laboratory staff."
5 Now, in respect of identifying 16 matches I think you referred
6 to, was it necessary to either redo tests or reinterpret data in order to
7 find those matches?
8 A. Yes, it was a quite extensive process of review, in many
9 instances retesting, in many instances re-extraction, of DNA samples.
10 Q. I want to take you to another section, and this will be on
11 page -- the next page actually, page 13. And in the middle of the page,
12 it reads that:
13 "Due to the diligence of the forensic sciences director's
14 initiative to conduct a quality check of the unmatched DNA profiles from
15 2001 to 2004, sample 9100507 was definitively matched to the Palic family
16 reference samples."
17 This is what you specifically addressed during your
19 What I wanted to ask you was: In relation to the unfortunate
20 circumstances resulting from a clerical error that resulted in the
21 failure to match this sample, can you tell us, is it possible for such an
22 error to produce a -- an erroneous match to an individual rather than
23 result in the failure to match an individual?
24 A. It is -- it's not the case that the type of error that was seen
25 here would in any remote conception be expected to produce a false match.
1 What these kind of errors, and almost any error in -- in a DNA-typing
2 process, will do is to cause that DNA profile not to match properly.
3 What -- what sporadic mistakes, large-scale mistakes, what have you, what
4 they would do is -- what they would not do is transform one DNA profile
5 into a matchable DNA profile of another individual. In other words, the
6 types of errors that were investigated here are simply not expected to
7 have affected any of the matches that we have made.
8 Q. Can you tell us a little bit more about why that's the case.
9 A. Well, for the genetic systems that we study, there are on the
10 order of one hundred trillion trillion combinations that can be
11 generated. So it's a number beyond astronomical conception. And when
12 you're dealing in a universe, let's say, a pool of missing persons,
13 that's several tens of thousands, the real genetic profiles are
14 exceptionally rare compared to the genetic profiles that have never
15 existed, the possible genetic profiles that have never existed. So if
16 you make a random change in an individual's genetic profile, it's not
17 going to -- it's not going to change it into another genetic profile
18 relevant to that event. By astronomical odds it's going to change it
19 into some other genetic profile that simply won't match anyone.
20 Q. Let me take you to another section of the report. And we'll go
21 to page 24. Actually, we should start on page 23; I'm sorry.
22 At the bottom of the page, we can see a summary. And it reads
24 "Through the work in the Balkans and in disaster victim
25 identification in other parts of the world, the ICMP has documented that
1 the ICMP is obviously capable of working under difficult political and
2 societal conditions and at the same time is able to apply technical and
3 ethical standards at a high international level and reliably identify
4 missing persons." It then goes on to talk about the accreditation
5 according to the ISO 17025 standard.
6 Prior to the accreditation by the accrediting committee -- first
7 of all, could you tell us, the accrediting agency, who that is or what
8 that is?
9 A. It is a highly respected German accreditation agency with the
10 abbreviations DAKKS. And I won't attempt to pronounce that in the German
12 Q. And the standard -- the ISO 17025 standard, can you describe for
13 us, just in very brief terms, what that is?
14 A. It's a -- it's the most widely respected standard for
15 accreditation relating to scientific and methodological processes where
16 your laboratory is -- has a quality-management system that underlies all
17 aspects of the work so that validated procedures are always used, and
18 that you have standard operating procedures that indicate precisely what
19 you do, and you have an ongoing series of audits that indicate that you
20 do do what you should do, and a -- a mechanism for continual improvement
21 and continual both self-monitoring and external audits by the
22 accreditation body.
23 Q. Prior to the accreditation that was obtained by the ICMP in 2007
24 I think you said it was, were there any fundamental substantive changes
25 to the DNA testing procedure protocols or methodology from the period of
1 time prior to that date?
2 A. Obtaining accreditation did not map on to any substantive change
3 as to the scientific procedures conducted at the ICMP. Was -- the
4 largest change would have been associated with the degree of formal
5 registration of documentation of procedures. But those actual procedures
6 themselves were carried out virtually the same way, before and after.
7 Q. And if I could just take you to page 26 of the report and the
8 second paragraph on the page, in the middle, it reads: "The number of
9 new identifications" -- referring, I believe, to the 16 of the 1582 --
10 A. If I could clarify, briefly. At the time that this report was
11 written, we hadn't conducted all the final follow-up experimentation and
12 had only discovered at that time nine new identifications. The number
13 today, having completed the exercise, is 16.
14 Q. Okay. It reads that:
15 "The number of new identifications was also very low compared to
16 the total number of identifications. These facts are in line with the
17 impression of the expert review panel, that DNA and matching at the ICMP
18 from inception was of high quality."
19 Do you do anything fundamentally different in terms of testing
20 procedures now than at the time that this review was carried out and at
21 the time that the original testing was done prior to the review?
22 A. Well, again, the basic scientific methodology is the same. But
23 we have an absolute commitment to continuing improvement. And through
24 the action of our quality management system, we continually try to
25 identify ways in which we can rule out the chances for human error. So,
1 yes. And, in fact, throughout the entire period we've implemented
2 continuing processes such as, now, independent witness checks. Where any
3 time there's a transfer of samples at a key step from one vessel to
4 another or one rack to another, we have independent observers to watch
5 that process to help minimise the potential for human error in such -- in
6 such a transfer.
7 So it's those kind of things that have continued to be improved.
8 Whenever possible, also, continually we've changed from any time that you
9 would manually enter data to have that be an electronic transfer of data
10 to the maximum extent possible.
11 So for a large number of reasons, the events that gave rise to
12 the unfortunate delay in the identification of Colonel Palic simply would
13 not and could not happen today, for example. And many of those changes
14 were made years ago, not just in response to having identified this
15 problem with Colonel Palic.
16 Q. In the context of the identification of Colonel Palic's remains,
17 did the ICMP go back to and re-extract or re-test Avdo Palic's remains?
18 A. Yes. By that stage in the process, we were certainly going to
19 investigate the issue to the maximum extent possible, so we obtained new
20 samples from those skeletal remains cases, applied our current newer
21 extraction methodology, and completely duplicated the results we had --
22 had previously obtained.
23 I'll remind you that, in fact, the DNA profile we obtained from
24 the Palic -- Colonel Palic's remains in the first instance was correct;
25 it was simply incorrectly entered into the database.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, it would be helpful only to use
2 one microphone, because if you're using all the time two microphones,
3 it -- this -- it makes your voice lower, surprisingly.
5 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I didn't realize they
6 were both on.
7 Q. I wanted to --
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic.
9 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I would just like to
10 ask both the Prosecutor and the expert to slow down a little bit because
11 the transcript is far ahead of the interpretation that we're receiving.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Indeed. It is an ongoing problem.
13 Mr. Vanderpuye.
14 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
15 Q. You were asked a question by General Tolimir - I think it would
16 have been on page 59 of the transcript today - about whether the DNA
17 identification was essentially a preliminary -- preliminary step in the
18 ultimate identification of an individual as dead. Do you remember the
19 question and an answer around -- concerning that?
20 A. I do.
21 Q. And I wanted to ask: In terms of the work that the ICMP does,
22 when you find that there's a distinct profile that you obtained from a --
23 an extracted bone, exhumed bone, is a profile synonymous with
24 identifying an individual, not necessarily by name, but an -- a discrete
1 A. The types of profiles that we deal with, barring identical twins,
2 can be expected to be unique to an individual within any bound of
3 reasonable human experience.
4 Q. So to the extent that the list of matches that was provided by
5 the ICMP to the Office of the Prosecutor sets out some 6.441 identified
6 individuals, it is fair to say that there are at least that many discrete
7 DNA profiles to be found in that list?
8 A. That's correct.
9 Q. And to the extent that these profiles came from
10 Srebrenica-related graves, or the events concerning Srebrenica, would it
11 be a fair inference to draw that they represent victims concerning the
12 events in Srebrenica?
13 A. Based on the information we have received and our overall
14 understanding of the nature of the event and our data, it's my opinion
15 that these are victims of the fall of Srebrenica.
16 Q. Having had an opportunity to oversee the process of DNA
17 identification at the ICMP since 2006, can you state that the results of
18 the DNA testing by the ICMP are, to a reasonable degree of scientific
19 certainty, reliable?
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Before the question will be answered,
21 Mr. Tolimir.
22 MR. TOLIMIR: [No interpretation] [Microphone not activated]
23 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
24 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
25 I apologise, but the Prosecutor is asking the expert's opinion.
1 Is this an expert opinion that is presented in his report, or is it just
2 his opinion? Since it's in contradiction with page 61 of the report
3 where he said he doesn't have full control of the samples provided to him
4 by the state commission.
5 Thank you.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
7 MR. VANDERPUYE: I think that is pretty much addressed in the
8 list itself. The list that was tendered is a list of DNA matching
9 reports concerning Srebrenica-related individuals. So I think the
10 question is a fair one, given that it was the witness's organisation that
11 provided the OTP with that list.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: The question was: Can you state the results --
13 that the results of the DNA testing by the ICMP are, to a reasonable
14 degree -- scientific certainty, reliable?
15 THE WITNESS: It is absolutely my belief, based on extensive
16 experience in this field and detailed knowledge of the ICMP's procedures,
17 that our DNA match reports are wholly reliable. And although they are
18 intended to be used in concert with all forensic evidence in a case, the
19 ICMP considers that they are properly strong stand-alone in such cases
20 where there would be no additional information.
21 So the ICMP believes that this is exceptionally strong evidence
22 of identification.
23 Q. Thank you, Mr. Parsons.
24 MR. VANDERPUYE: I have no further questions on redirect
25 examination. Thank you, Mr. President and Your Honours.
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Judge Nyambe has a question.
2 Questioned by the Court:
3 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you. I just need a number of
5 I'm trying to locate the page just so that I've got you correctly
6 quoted. I think it's somewhere on page 68, lines 13 to 22, towards the
7 end you -- correct me if I'm wrong or I'm quoting you wrongly, but you
8 were recorded as having said: "... for the families to feel that their
9 information can be obtained from us against their agreements that we have
10 made with the families," you were talking about this in the context of
11 the confidential lists? Have I quoted you right?
12 A. I believe you have, ma'am, and I'm --
13 JUDGE NYAMBE: So this is my question: What sort of agreements
14 does the ICMP have with the families with regard to this particular
16 A. It's -- it relates to language on the consent form that indicates
17 that their sample -- in providing their sample, we guarantee to them
18 they'll be used only for the purposes of identification of their loved
20 And, moreover, we know from extensive interactions with the
21 families that our sense of that has been communicated to them and is
22 shared in their understanding that what they mean -- what we mean by that
23 is that it will be used in order to return their loved one to them, as
24 opposed, specifically, to being disclosed with regard to criminal
25 proceedings such as this one.
1 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you. My next question. It's with regard to
2 the review panel. Who commissioned this review panel?
3 A. That was an initiative taken by the directors of the ICMP of whom
4 I am one. So it was something that we felt was beneficial to all
5 stakeholders involved, including ourselves.
6 JUDGE NYAMBE: And then in the same, I think, 59, page 59,
7 lines 6 to 8, you say: "It is not one of our absolute ... priorities
8 because we think that there is very little risk that this system is
9 causing any problems."
10 So you say, in one breath, it's of no value?
11 A. Ma'am, I wouldn't say that we consider it to be of no value. In
12 fact, we are pursuing it.
13 With regard to quality management in forensic laboratories, one
14 of the most critical components to a continuing improvement is to
15 identify those areas where there's the greatest risk. So in the
16 laboratory, for example, eliminating human manipulations or eliminating
17 the chances of human error is one of the very highest priorities you can
19 We feel that through internal testing and our own internal design
20 processes and internal validation studies that the forensic data
21 management system that we have operates very, very strongly. We have
22 absolute confidential -- well, absolute is not a word that should ever be
23 used because it implies nothing could ever go wrong, and that's simply
24 not a realistic situation. But we have a very, very high degree of
25 confidence in the way that that system operates.
1 So it will be beneficial if we can get a third party to come in
2 and -- and validate, independently, the code. But, honestly, my feeling
3 is it's not a -- an extremely important thing to do from the -- for the
4 chances of preventing us from actually having problems.
5 I'll mention, also, that it's a bit of a complex process to have
6 software externally validated. And one of the reasons it's gone a little
7 bit more slowly is we want to make sure that the process actually gives
8 us what we want and need, in other words, takes an appropriate look at
9 the system in a way that truly is valuable. And a second component that
10 we're dealing with is it's actually a rather expensive undertaking and it
11 relates to us requiring additional funds to achieve that.
12 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you. But one last more question,
13 Mr. Parsons, for you. I think it's page 25, lines 4 to 5. Please
14 correct me if my -- I'm quoting you wrongly. You've said, in those
15 lines: "I'm unaware of any other systematic use of nominal data in the
16 manner that we are discussing it here."
17 Do I understand you then to mean that nominal data has not been
18 used anywhere else other than in Srebrenica?
19 A. Thank you for drawing my attention to that. I would like to
20 qualify that statement a little bit, with an emphasis on what I'm aware
22 I will not -- I'm not a position to assert that it's never been
23 used. I just don't know of any situations where it has been used or
24 where I would guess, where I would predict, that it has been used in such
25 a manner, so extensively.
1 JUDGE NYAMBE: Have you used it yourself anywhere else?
2 A. Not that I'm aware of, ma'am. But it's possible that in the
3 recording of the data that similar such things have been used in some
5 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you very much for your answers.
6 A. You're so welcome.
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. This concludes, now, your
8 examination, Dr. Parsons. Thank you very much that you were able to come
9 to The Hague again and provide us with your expertise. Now you are free
10 to return to your normal activities. You are released. And it is now in
11 your hands and it is your decision if you are able to meet with the
12 Defence. That could help to clarify some matters and assist them to --
13 to prepare the Defence case.
14 I would like to thank all those who are patient with us. We are
15 over time a bit. I am looking forward to a fruitful week next week. We
16 managed to finish with the scheduled witnesses this week, and I'm
17 looking - and I refer to the comment of Mr. Gajic this morning - I'm
18 looking forward to a fruitful, successful, and cooperation in the second
19 year of this trial, which will commence next week.
20 We adjourn and resume Monday in the afternoon, 2.15, in this
22 [The witness withdrew]
23 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.51 p.m.,
24 to be reconvened on Monday, the 28th day of
25 February, 2011, at 2.15 p.m.