War crimes in the Kosovo War

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US Marines provide security as members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Forensics Team investigate a grave site in a village in Kosovo on 1 July 1999.

The War crimes in the Kosovo War were a series of war crimes committed during the Kosovo War (early 1998 – 11 June 1999). Yugoslav security forces killed many Albanian civilians during the war; there were also attacks on Yugoslav security forces and moderate Serb-friendly Albanians by the Kosovo Liberation Army (UÇK). According to Human Rights Watch, "the vast majority of the violations over the past year (January 1998 – April 1999) are attributable to Yugoslav Police or the Yugoslav Army". Violations also include abuses committed by Albanian militants, such as kidnappings and summary executions of other minority races.[1]

The opposing sides often claimed justification for their war crimes due to some past war crimes or terrorist attacks committed by the other side. Other justifications includes claiming the victims to be combatants instead of civilians.

In Serbia, Serb policemen who fought separatists in Kosovo are still considered war heroes,[2][3] while in Kosovo some Albanian militants were awarded the "Hero of Kosovo" title.[4]

Background[edit]

By the 1980s the Kosovo Albanians constitute a majority of the population of Kosovo. During the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of Serbs and Montenegrins left Kosovo, largely due to the economic situation and repression by the Kosovo Albanian government and population.[5] "57,000 Serbs have left Kosovo in the last decade" due to murder, rape and persecution – wrote the New York Times in 1982.[6] Slobodan Milošević gained political power by pledging to discontinue this repression.

Milošević abolished Kosovo's autonomy in 1989. With his rise to power, the Albanians started boycotting state institutions and ignoring the laws of the Republic of Serbia. Serbia tried to maintain its political control over the province. With the formation of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a large number of the Kosovo Albanians became radicalized. The Serbian military's response was brutal. In 1997, international sanctions were applied to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia because of the alleged persecution of Kosovo's Albanians by Yugoslav security forces.[7]

Kosovo Albanian war crimes[edit]

"As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the 'safe house' individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses were transported swiftly to the operating clinic where their organs would be removed for sale on the black market"

– Council of Europe report on Kosovo, 2010.

Kidnappings and summary executions[edit]

Serbian Orthodox Holy Trinity Church in Petrić in July 1999, leveled in August 1999.[8]

In some villages under Albanian control in 1998, militants drove ethnic-Serbs from their homes. Some of those who remained are unaccounted for and are presumed to have been abducted by the KLA and killed. The KLA detained an estimated 85 Serbs during its 19 July 1998 attack on Orahovac. 35 of these were subsequently released but the others remained. On 22 July 1998, the KLA briefly took control of the Belaćevac mine near the town of Obilić. Nine Serb mineworkers were captured that day and they remain on the International Committee of the Red Cross's list of the missing and are presumed to have been killed.[9] In August 1998, 22 Serbian civilians were reportedly killed in the village of Klečka, where the police claimed to have discovered human remains and a kiln used to cremate the bodies.[9][10] In September 1998, Serbian police collected 34 bodies of people believed to have been seized and murdered by the KLA, among them some ethnic Albanians, at Lake Radonjić near Glođane (Gllogjan) in what became known as the Lake Radonjić massacre.[9]

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the ICTY, 97 Kosovo Serbs were kidnapped in 1998.[9][11] According to a Serbian government report, from 1 January 1998 to 10 June 1999 the UÇK killed 988 people and kidnapped 287; of those killed, 335 were civilians, 351 were soldiers, 230 were police and 72 were unidentified; by nationality, 87 of the civilians killed were Serbs, 230 were Albanians, and 18 were of other nationalities.[12]

Massacres[edit]

Incomplete list of massacres:

  • Lake Radonjić massacre – 34 individuals of Serb, Roma and Albanian ethnicity were discovered by a Serbian forensic team near the lake.[13][14][15][16]
  • Prison Camp Jablancia – 10 individuals were detained and tortured by KLA forces including: one Serb, three Montenegrins, one Bosnian, three Albanians, and two victims of unknown ethnicity.[17][18]
  • Gnjilane massacre – The remains of 80 Serbs were discovered in mass graves after they were killed by Albanian militants.[19]
  • Orahovac massacre – More than 100 Serbian and Roma civilians were kidnapped and placed in concentration camps, 47 were killed.[20]
  • Staro Gračko massacre – 14 Serbian farmers were murdered by Albanian militants.[21]
  • Klečka killings – 22 Serb civilians were murdered and their bodies were cremated.[21][22]
  • Ugljare massacre – 15 Serbs were murdered by Albanian separatists.[21]
  • Peć massacre – 20 Serbs were murdered and their corpses were thrown down wells.[citation needed]
  • Volujak massacre – 25 male Kosovo Serb civilians were murdered by members of the KLA in July 1998.[23]

Destruction of settlements, churches and cemeteries[edit]

In the days after Yugoslav forces withdrew from Kosovo, over 200,000 homes that belonged to Serbs were demolished[24] by ethnic Albanians with the help of the KLA. Since the war ended, many graves containing the bodies of Serbs have been desecrated by ethnic Albanians. No one has ever been brought to justice for these crimes.[25][26]

During and after the Kosovo conflict, hundreds of Serbian Orthodox churches have been destroyed at the hands of Albanians.[27]

Ethnic cleansing[edit]

During the Kosovo War, over 90,000 Serbian and other non-Albanian refugees fled the war-torn province. and in the days after the Yugoslav Army withdrew, over 200,000 Serb and other non-Albanians were forced from the province by Kosovo Albanians.[28]

In 2000, German war photographer Frauke Eigen created an exhibition about the clothing and belongings of the victims of ethnic cleansing in the Kosovo War.[29] Eigen's photographs were taken onsite during the exhumation of mass graves, and were later used as evidence by the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.[30]

Use of child soldiers[edit]

Around 10% of all KLA insurgents engaged in fighting during the conflict were under the age of 18, with some being as young as 13.[31][32]

Concentration camps[edit]

  • Lapušnik prison camp – A KLA concentration camp in Glogovac where 23 Serbs and moderate Albanians were killed. Hardina Bala; An UÇK prison guard was found guilty of torture, mistreatment of prisoners and murder for crimes committed at the camp.[33][34]
  • Concentration camps in Albania – Many non-Albanians and Albanians who collaborated with the Yugoslavs were kidnapped by Albanian militants and were taken across the border into Albania where they were held, interrogated, tortured and in most cases killed. Several investigations into these camps have led to evidence detailing that several prisoners had their organs removed.[35]

Organ theft[edit]

Main article: Organ theft in Kosovo
  • During and after the 1999 war, it was alleged that several hundred Serb and Roma civilians who were taken across the border into Albania were killed in a "Yellow House" near the town of Burrel and had several of their organs removed for sale on the black market. These claims were investigated first by the ICTY who found medical equipment and traces of blood in and around the house,[36] They were then investigated by the UN, who received witness reports from many ex-UÇK fighters who stated that several of the prisoners had their organs removed.[37] Chief Prosecutor for the ICTY; Carla Del Ponte revealed these crimes to the public in her book; Madame Prosecutor in 2008, causing a large response. In 2011; French media outlet; France24 released a classified UN document written in 2003 which documented the crimes.
  • In late 2010, a Council of Europe report by Swiss politician Dick Marty, who had previously gained fame for exposing CIA prison camps within Europe,[38] implicated current Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thači in a mafia ring named the Drenica group who had, among other crimes, taken hundreds of Serbs, Roma and moderate Albanians prisoner and transported them into Albania. The healthiest prisoners were taken to operating clinics near Tirana where they were killed by a shot into the head and had their kidneys removed, which were then sent to Istanbul for sale.[39]

The release of the documents triggered international outrage and spawned an investigation by EULEX into the trafficking. This investigation was criticized by Marty who believed that an independent organization rather than EULEX should look into the crimes.[40] EULEX asked Dick Marty for evidence, most of which was in the form of witness statements. Marty refused to do so until a credible witness protection system was set up to ensure that those who delivered evidence are not the victims of revenge attacks by the UÇK and radical Albanians.[41] Marty revealed that the Albanian authorities had attempted to prevent any investigation into Organ trafficking.[42] Hashim Thaci has denied any crimes took place.

  • Responding to this allegation, the head of the war crimes unit of Eulex (the European Law and Justice Mission in Kosovo), Matti Raatikainen, claimed "The fact is that there is no evidence whatsoever in this case, no bodies. No witnesses. All the reports and media attention to this issue have not been helpful to us. In fact they have not been helpful to anyone."[43] He described these allegations as a "distraction" that prevented the war crimes unit from finding the remains of close to 2,000 individuals of Serb, Albanian, and Roma ethnicity still missing in the conflict.[43]

Yugoslav war crimes[edit]

Serbian military, paramilitary and police forces in Kosovo have committed a wide range of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other violations of international humanitarian and human rights law: forced expulsion of Kosovars from their homes; burning and looting of homes, schools, religious sites and healthcare facilities; detention, particularly of military-age men; summary execution; rape; violations of medical neutrality; and identity cleansing.[44]

— Report released by the U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, May 1999

Persecution and deportations[edit]

Main article: Operation Horseshoe

During the armed conflict in 1998, the Yugoslav Army and Serbian police allegedly used excessive and random force, which resulted in property damage, the displacement of population and death of civilians.[45] Some claim that Belgrade unleashed Operation Horseshoe in the summer of 1998, in which hundreds of thousands of Albanians were allegedly driven from their homes (though this is highly controversial, with many scholars dismissing Operation Horseshoe as anti-Serb propaganda).[46][47][48]

The withdrawal of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe monitors on 20 March 1999, together with the start of NATO's bombing campaign, allegedly encouraged Milošević to implement a "campaign of expulsions".[49] With the beginning of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Operation Horseshoe was supposedly implemented, though the Yugoslav government maintained that the refugee crisis was caused by the bombings.[50][51] The Yugoslav Army, Serbian police and Serb paramilitary forces in the spring of 1999, in an allegedly organized manner, initiated a broad campaign of violence against Albanian civilians in order to expel them from Kosovo and thus maintain the political control of Belgrade over the province.[45][52][53]

According to the legally binding verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Federal Army and Serbian police systematically attacked Albanian-populated villages after the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia that began on 24 March 1999; abused, robbed and killed civilians, ordering them to go to Albania or Montenegro, and burned their houses and destroyed their property.[54] Nemanja Stjepanović claimed that within the campaign of violence, Kosovo Albanians were expelled from their homes, murdered, sexually assaulted, and had their religious buildings destroyed. They also alleged that Yugoslav forces committed numerous war crimes during the implementation of a "joint criminal enterprise" whose aim was to "through the use of violence and terror, force a significant number of Kosovo Albanians to leave their homes and cross the border in order for the state government to retain control over Kosovo."[45] The supposed ethnic cleansing of the Albanian population was allegedly performed in the following way: first the Army surrounded a location, followed by shelling, then the police entered the village and often with them and the Army, and then crimes occurred (murders, rapes, beatings, expulsions...).[54]

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, by June 1999, the Yugoslav military, Serbian police and paramilitaries had expelled around 850,000 Albanians from Kosovo,[55] and several hundred thousand more were internally displaced, in addition to those displaced prior to March.[52] Approximately 440,000 refugees crossed the border into Albania and 320,000 fled to Macedonia, while Bosnia and Herzegovina received more than 30,000.

Presiding Judge Iain Bonomy, who imposed the sentence, said that "deliberate actions of these forces during the campaign provoked the departure of at least 700,000 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo in the short period from late March to early June 1999."[45]

Destruction of settlements[edit]

The Yugoslav Army indiscriminately attacked Kosovo Albanian villages.[56] Police and military forces partially or completely had destroyed thousands of Albanian villages in Kosovo by burning or shelling them.[56] According to a UNHCR survey, nearly 40% of all residential houses in Kosovo were heavily damaged or completely destroyed by the end of the war. Out of a total of 237,842 houses, 45,768 were heavily damaged and 46,414 were destroyed.[57] In particular, residences in the city of Peć was heavily damaged. More than 80% of the 5,280 houses in the city were heavily damaged (1,590) or destroyed (2,774).[58]

Religious objects were also damaged or destroyed. According to the report of the Physicians for Human Rights, there were 155 destroyed mosques in Kosovo in August 1999 based on claims from Albanian refugees.[59]

Identity cleansing[edit]

Main article: Identity cleansing

Identity cleansing was a strategy allegedly employed by the government of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War.[60] Identity cleansing is defined as "confiscation of personal identification, passports, and other such documents to make it difficult or impossible for those driven out to return".[61]

Expelled Kosovo Albanians claimed that they were systematically stripped of identity and property documents including passports, land titles, automobile license plates, identity cards and other documents.[62] In conjunction with the policy of expelling ethnic Albanians from the province, the Yugoslavs would confiscate all documents that indicated the identity of those being expelled. Physicians for Human Rights reports that nearly 60% of respondents to its survey observed Yugoslav forces removing or destroying personal identification documents.[63] Human Rights Watch also documented the common practice of "identity cleansing": refugees expelled toward Albania were frequently stripped of their identity documents and forced to remove the license plates from their vehicles.[64] The occurrence of these acts suggested that the government was trying to block their return.[64]

In addition to confiscating the relevant documents from their holders, efforts were also made to destroy any actual birth records (and other archives) which were maintained by governmental agencies, so as to make the "cleansing" complete[65] (this latter tactic sometimes being referred to as archival cleansing).[66]

Massacres of civilians[edit]

Incomplete list of massacres:

Cover-up[edit]

Soon after NATO started bombing Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milošević allegedly ordered that all bodies in Kosovo that could be of interest to The Hague Tribunal should be removed.[84] The Yugoslav Army systematically transported the corpses of Albanians to places like the Trepča Mines near Kosovska Mitrovica, where their remains were allegedly cremated.[56] Thus, according to one source, it was estimated that between 1,200 and 1,500 bodies were burned in the Trepča Mines.[45] However, these allegations surrounding the Trepča mines turned out to be false.[85][86] More corpses of Kosovo Albanians were transported into Serbia,[45] where the bodies were buried in mass-graves such as those at Batajnica.[87][88]

In May 2001, the Serbian government announced that 86 bodies of Kosovo Albanians were thrown into the river Danube during the Kosovo War.[56] After four months of excavations, Serbian forensic-experts located at least seven mass graves and some 430 bodies (including the corpses of women and children) in Central Serbia.[84] Those sites included the graves at Batajnica near Belgrade, at Petrovo Selo in eastern Serbia and near Perućac Dam in western Serbia.[84] So far, about 800 remains of Albanians killed and buried in mass graves in Serbia have been exhumed and returned to their families in Kosovo.[89] Most of the bodies were discovered near Special Anti-Terrorist police bases where Serbian Anti-Terrorism units were stationed and trained in clandestine operations.[90]

As a witness in the trial of eight police officers for war crimes against Albanian civilians during the Suva Reka massacre, Dragan Karleuša, the investigator of the Ministry of Interior of Serbia, testified that there are more graves in Serbia.[91]

He commented, "why would they remove bodies in this way if the people had died normally," and concluded that they did not die normally and that the campaign to remove the bodies was, in fact, a cover-up for a "terrible crime".[84]

Other[edit]

Summary killings of prominent ethnic Albanian leaders and intellectuals have also been reported[92] (including Bajram Kelmendi).[93]

NATO[edit]

Use of depleted uranium[edit]

During NATO's bombing campaign, munitions containing depleted uranium were used on targets within Yugoslavia.[citation needed]

Sites in Kosovo and southern Central Serbia where NATO aviation used munition with depleted uranium during 1999 bombing.

In 2001, Carla Del Ponte, then the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that NATO's use of depleted uranium in the former-Yugoslavia could be investigated as a possible war crime. Louise Arbour, Del Ponte's predecessor as chief prosecutor, created a small, internal committee, made up of staff lawyers, to assess the allegation.[94] Their findings, that were accepted and endorsed by Del Ponte,[95] concluded that:

There is no specific treaty ban on the use of DU projectiles. There is a developing scientific debate and concern expressed regarding the impact of the use of such projectiles and it is possible that, in future, there will be a consensus view in international legal circles that use of such projectiles violate general principles of the law applicable to use of weapons in armed conflict. No such consensus exists at present.[96]

Civilian casualties[edit]

The Serbian government and a number of international human rights groups (e.g., Amnesty International) claimed that NATO had carried out war crimes by bombing civilians. In total the number of civilian casualties caused by the NATO bombing stood at 2,500 according to Serb sources,[97][98] while the military and police casualties stood at only 40% of that number at 1,031.[97][98]

Incomplete list of civilian casualties caused by NATO:

Aftermath[edit]

Refugees[edit]

An estimated 200,000 Serbs and Roma fled Kosovo after the war.[99] Romani people were also driven out after being harassed by Albanians.[9] The Yugoslav Red Cross registered 247,391 mostly Serb refugees by November 1999.

Killings[edit]

According to Human Rights Watch, as "many as one thousand Serbs and Roma have been murdered or have gone missing since 12 June 1999."[9] The notorious Gnjilane Group, which was active in Gnjilane, committed brutal crimes and murdered numerous ethnic-Serbs during the months of June–October 1999, even after KFOR had arrived.[citation needed]

According to a Serbian government report, in the period from 10 June 1999 – 11 November 2001, when NATO had been in control in Kosovo, 847 people were reported to have been killed and 1,154 kidnapped.[12] This comprised both civilians and security forces personnel.

Organ theft[edit]

Main article: Organ theft in Kosovo

Carla Del Ponte, a long-time ICTY chief prosecutor claimed in her book The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals that there were instances of organ trafficking in 1999. According to the book after the end of the war in 1999, Kosovo Albanians were smuggling organs of between 100 and 300 Serbs and other minorities from the province to Albania.[100] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and Serbian War Crimes Tribunal are currently investigating these allegations, as numerous witnesses and new materials have recently emerged.[101]

Responding to this allegation, the head of the war crimes unit of Eulex (the European Law and Justice Mission in Kosovo), Matti Raatikainen, claimed "The fact is that there is no evidence whatsoever in this case, no bodies. No witnesses. All the reports and media attention to this issue have not been helpful to us. In fact they have not been helpful to anyone."[43] He described these allegations as a "distraction" that prevented the war crimes unit from finding the remains of close to 2,000 individuals of Serb, Albanian, and Roma ethnicity still missing in the conflict.[43]

War crimes trials[edit]

Criminal prosecutions of Serbian leaders before the ICTY[edit]

Slobodan Milošević, along with Milan Milutinović, Nikola Šainović, Dragoljub Ojdanić and Vlajko Stojiljković were charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with crimes against humanity including murder, forcible population transfer, deportation and "persecution on political, racial or religious grounds". Further indictments were leveled in October 2003 against former armed forces chief of staff Nebojša Pavković, former army corps commander Vladimir Lazarević, former police official Vlastimir Đorđević and the current head of Serbia's public security, Sreten Lukić. All were indicted for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war. Milosevic died in ICTY custody before sentencing.

The Court has pronounced the following verdicts:[54]

  • Milan Milutinović, former President of the Republic of Serbia and Yugoslav Foreign Minister, acquitted.
  • Nikola Sainović, Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister, guilty on all counts, sentenced to 22 years in prison.
  • Dragoljub Ojdanić, Chief of General Staff of the VJ, guilty to two counts, sentenced to 15 years in prison.
  • Nebojša Pavković, commander of Third Army, guilty on all counts, sentenced to 22 years in prison.
  • Vladimir Lazarević, commander of the Pristina Corps VJ, guilty of two counts, sentenced to 15 years in prison.
  • Sreten Lukić, Chief of Staff of the Serbian police, guilty on all counts, sentenced to 22 years in prison.
  • Vlastimir Đorđević, Chief of the Public Security Department of Serbia's Ministry of Internal Affairs, guilty of five counts, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, and sentenced to 27 years in prison.

Sainović, Pavković and Lukić were convicted as members of a joint criminal enterprise, while the others were convicted of aiding and abetting crimes.[45]

Domestic Trials[edit]

First cases[edit]

The first trials in Serbia & FRY regarding the atrocities against Kosovar Albanians had occurred in 2000 in front martial courts, as accounts of murder. The Niš Military Court had in late 2000 found guilty for the murder of 2 Albanian civilians on 28 March 1999 in the village of Gornja Sušica near Priština: Captain Dragiša Petrović and army reservists sergeant Nenad Stamenković and Tomica Jović. Petrović got 4 years and 10 months, while Stamenković and Jović sentenced to four and a half years each. The trial had dragged on as the Supreme Military Court had abolished the verdicts and issued a retrial, until finished in late 2003 in front of it when all three indictees were found guilty for the same crime, however their sentences increased – 9 years for Petrovic and 7 for Stamenkovic and Jovic each – guilty of a "war crime".

However, the very first domestic "war crimes" (under that classification) trial in FRY regarding Kosovo had occurred in 1999–02, against a Yugoslav Army soldier called Ivan Nikolić, indicted for murdering 2 ethnic Albanians in a village near the Kosovan town of Podujevo called Penduh on 24 March 1999. They were originally charged for murder, and being the very first trial regarding an atrocity committed against Albanians it was paved with a lot of controversy. Nikolic was originally acquitted of all charges, but in June 2000 the Supreme Court of Serbia had abolished the verdict and ordered for a retrial. Instead of murder, the indictment was changed by the prosecution mid-trial to "a war crime against civilian population" (according to Article 142 of the FRY Criminal Code), paving the way for prosecution of war crimes against ethnic Albanians in Serbia and Yugoslavia. The trial, organized in front of the District Court in Prokuplje, finally ended with a guilty verdict in 2002, Nikolic sentenced to 8 years of prison.[102]

Orahovac Case[edit]

One of the more known cases was that of Boban Petković and Đorđe Simić, due to the controversial stalling, both of whom are Serbian police reservists; Petković was suspect of murder of 3 Albanian civilians in the village of Rija near Orahovac and Simić as an accomplice. Although the investigation was opened in June 1999 at the Prizren District Court, due to the withdrawal of Serbia's judiciary in favor of UNMIK it had opened up in the District Court of Požarevac in late '99. A judgement was issued in mid 2000 and Petković was found guilty in two counts of murder and sentenced to 4 years and 10 months of prison, while Simić to 1 year as an accomplice. Serbia's Supreme Court had abolished the judgements in 2001 and ordered for a retrial. In a new trial, in which according to the new procedure the individuals were indicted for a "war crime", the District Court of Pozarevac had sentenced Petkovic to 5 years of prison with obligatory psychiatric assistance, while acquitting Simic of all charges. The Supreme Court had considering both the Defense and the Prosecution again abolished the judgements in 2006. The judicial reforms and new organization of Serbia's judicial system had caught up with the case, so it finally began in 2008, under the High Court of Požarevac. However due to heavy procedural difficulties, demanding cooperation with the EULEX for evidence from the ground, as well as the indicteds' lack of appearance in front of the court, the trial had reached a stalemate in 2011 and 2012. As of 2013, the case, which has attracted a great deal of controversy and criticism for not being handled within reasonable time, still remains open.

War Crimes System[edit]

In dedication to the very big issue of prosecuting war crimes committed in the 1990s and due to their sensitive nature, Serbia had founded a special "War Crimes Prosecution" dedicated to investigating and prosecuting war crimes, as well as having special War Crimes divisions within its court system with specific panels. It is the only country in Former Yugoslavia which has done so, all the others prosecuting war crimes under normal judicial procedures.[103]

Suva Reka[edit]

Among the more notable results is the "Suva Reka Case" (the Suva Reka massacre), the trial for began in 2006. Ex policemen Milorad Nišavić and Slađan Čukarić and State security member Miroslav Petković were found guilty by the War Crimes Panel of the Belgrade High Court, for the murder of 49 or 50 Albanian civilians in Suva Reka on 26 March 1999, including a total of 48 members of a Berisha family. Nišavić got 13, Petković 15 and Čukarić 20 years of prison. Three other policemen were acquitted, while in a separate trial Suva Reka police commander Radojko Repanović was found guilty due to command responsibility and sentenced to 20 years of prison. Two other policemen were acquitted, as well as a 3rd one, against whom the prosecution had dropped the case mid-trial.[104] In 2010 Belgrade's Appeal Court had confirmed all verdicts against the 6 directly responsible indicted, but has dismissed Repanovic's verdict and ordered for a retrial.[105] One of the acquitted, the commander of the 37th Police Unit Radoslav Mitrović, remains in custody as of 2013 along with several other members suspect for other accounts of war crimes. Repanović was found guilty on same counts and sentenced to 20 years of prison in late 2010 by Belgrade's War Crimes Panel[106] and in 2011 Belgrade's Appeal Court had confirmed the judgement.[107]

More finds for war Crimes against civilians[edit]

Lawful authorities in Serbia do not deny war crimes accuses, which were made public by Slobodan Stojanovic, the retired commander of Serbian Police, who is a protected witness by Serbian state.

During 1998, as a member of Serbian Police, he had taken part in a series of actions for which he testifies that were taken against Albanian civilians across Kosovo.

While on the Radio Free Europe, he said that Serbian Senior Officials were informed about every action that Serbian Forces members had taken in the territory of Kosovo, through the chain of command that was called “territory’s clearance”.

He says that he has seen enough horror, carried out by Serbian Forces, which influenced his withdrawal from Serbian Police.

He explained one of the occasions which he says were routine.

“I have been everywhere and when I saw what was happening, I pulled out. Simply, without any reason, they would approach to people and threat them, by demanding money from them. If one lacked money, they would kill them, without any other reason” he said, explaining that he knew names of those who had killed innocent people by just saying “A good Albanian is good only as a dead Albanian”.

He accused his former commander, Nenad Stojkovic for burning of villages in Mitrovica and crimes committed there.

“Nenad Stojkovic is responsible for what we had done in Mitrovica. They burnt down the whole village, that’s what they would do. They would take the order and that is it, some short words. When they took the order “matches” it meant ‘burn the whole village down’, whereas when they took the order ‘tyres’ it meant kill people. When the commander Mitrovic used to say ‘take him for tanning’, this would mean that Albanian man must be killed” says Stojanovic.

He has also talked about other cases, which according to him were crimes, for which, however no one has claimed the responsibility. [108]

Indictments to KLA leaders[edit]

The ICTY also leveled indictments against KLA members Fatmir Limaj, Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu and Agim Murtezi, indicted for crimes against humanity. They were arrested on 17–18 February 2003. Charges were soon dropped against Agim Murtezi as a case of mistaken identity, whereas Fatmir Limaj was acquitted of all charges on 30 November 2005 and released. The charges were in relation to the prison camp run by the defendants at Lapušnik between May and July 1998.

On March 2005, a UN tribunal indicted Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj for war crimes against the Serbs, on 8 March he tendered his resignation. Haradinaj, an ethnic Albanian, was a former commander who led units of the Kosovo Liberation Army and was appointed Prime Minister after winning an election of 72 votes to three in the Kosovo's Parliament in December 2004. Haradinaj was acquitted on all counts, but was recalled due to witness intimidation and faces a retrial. However on 29 November 2012, Haradaniaj and all KLA fighters were acquitted from all charges.[109]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  5. ^ Ruza Petrovic; Marina Blagojevic. "Preface". The Migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo and Metohija. 
  6. ^ EXODUS OF SERBIANS STIRS PROVINCE IN YUGOSLAVIA New York Times, 12 July 1982
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