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INFO   :::  Projects > Archives > The Helsinki Charter: Promoting Serbia's Europeanization > HC No. 139-140 > Text




By Tamara Kaliterna

Three years ago, at the day of the season when people care about leaves and care about the health of children unknown to them, while marking the World Environmental Day, international forensic experts started digging at the location the witnesses from Kosovo identified as the 17th mass grave of Kosovo Albanians in Serbia. All they found were scattered pieces of clothing and footwear. Four days later, dredgers of many colors left the forsaken quarry nearby Rudnica, some hundred meters away from the Raska-Kosovska Mitrovica highway, at the "administrative" border between Kosovo and the rest of Serbia at the time.

This year, on the day the world was celebrating the Victory Day over Fascism, Serbia's War Crime Prosecutor Office announced that there was a mass grave, once again in Rudnica, and some fifty-odd meters away from the location dug in vain by forensic experts in 2007. The place revealed bodily remains of 200-450 Kosovo Albanians killed in 1998-99 and buried beyond human dignity.

The mass grave was beneath the building of the Kosmet Put Company, erected later on, and a yard cemented by the model of Italian mafia that used the same method for hiding unwelcome companions and witnesses. Only one kilometer away is the today's border between Kosovo and Serbia and a checkpoint of the Serbian police. The cemented pit contained bodily remnants of the Albanians firstly buried in three mass graves - nearby Prizren, in Janjevo and in the yard of the Prishtina-based Transportation Company.

In 2010, on the day marking the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp in 1945, Kosovo officials visited the village of Tupale nearby Medvedja, the municipality bordering on Kosovo, another suspected location of the mass grave with bodily remnants of citizens of Kosovo of Albanian origin, firstly abducted and then murdered.

An eyewitness from Prishtina, who had lived in Medvedja, described transporters, dredgers, people digging feverishly at night, spotlights.Everything he told resembled the developments in Srebrenica in July 1995. 1,820 people from Kosovo are still on the list of "missing" and 420 bodily remnants have not been identified yet. This amounts to more than one-fifth of all Kosovo victims.

In 2001, three mass graves were revealed in Serbia, with 830 Albanians: in Batajnica, nearby Belgrade, in Petrovo Selo and in the Danube River. Only the police are allowed access to the first two locations.

More than 700 dead were excavated in Batajnica. The cemented mass grave nearby Raska is almost of the same size as the one in Batajnica, released the official Belgrade.

The first information about murdered Albanians leaked when a refrigerator truck of the Prizren-seated slaughterhouse emerged from the Danube, nearby Kladovo, on April 6, 1999. Three decapitated heads were found among 83 bodies. Two children, ages four and six, were found among the dead. The investigation revealed that the dead were transported to Serbia before NATO bombardment. Compassionate people experienced this horrible revelation as another bombardment of Belgrade after 58 years.

There are 75 graves in the locust woods nearby Petrovo Selo, owned by the Kladovo police. A locust tree symbolizes chastity. Some 120 people in their sixties now live in Petrovo Selo. The police training grounds in Dobre Vode, nearby Vranje, is suspected to hide yet another mass grave. Dead citizens of Kosovo are also beneath the highway once known under the name "Brotherhood and Unity."

"The difference between Serbs and dogs is that Serbs dig up and dogs in bones," joked Ljubisa Ristic, entertainer from the Yugoslav United Left, the party led by the only cigarette smuggler in Serbia with a doctorate in social science.

The geopolitical strategy for "Serb territories where Serb graves are" has turned into a lesson in moral defeat. And into Belgrade's withdrawal of Resolution 1244 and eventual recognition of sovereign Kosovo bordered by cemented mass graves.

The first minister of police in the post-Milosevic era, Dusan Mihajlovic, reported to his allies from the democratic opposition 17 mass graves of ethnic Albanians in the territory of Serbia. Goran Svilanovic, former leader of the Civic Alliance of Serbia, recalls that at the meeting "everybody turned ashen-faced." The police minister elect, Dragan Jocic, Kostunica's man of trust, shrugged his shoulders claiming that the information about 17 mass graves was "weird and most irresponsible," whereas investigation "too expensive." Neither Jocic's ministry nor the one now led by Ivica Dacic have fully investigated these mass graves and brought suspects to justice.

As for grave diggers, Slobodan Milosevic was buried "an innocent man" in his own backyard, five indictees out of "Kosovo six" were sentenced in the first instance, one was acquitted (Milan Milutinovic) and the high-ranking policeman, Vlastimir Djordjevic, is still on trial.

Nobody has been convicted for murder of Kosovo Albanians before domestic courts. Several low-ranking policemen have been on trial. Four of them were indicted of the Suva Reka case: having followed the order, "Go on, on the double, kill, transport." they were sentenced to total 68 years of imprisonment in the first instance. Two policemen accused of the Batiqi brothers murder were acquitted in the first instance. That's the ten-year repentance score of the democratic regime.

Out of 46 members of the Berisha family murdered in March 1999 in Suva Reka, 37 were excavated in Batajnica. A 12-month baby and a woman in the eight month of pregnancy were among them. More bodily parts than people were found in Batajnica.

According to Newsweek, Vlastimir /Rodja/ Djordjevic, head of the Public Security Department, Radomir Markovic, head of the Interior Affairs Department, never even accused of war crimes, and Vlajko Stojiljkovic, police minister who killed himself later on, were at a meeting with their host, Slobodan Milosevic, in March 1999. They decided that the case of refrigerator truck, driven by "public servants," should be state secret called "Depth II." Dead Albanians from Kosovo were transported to Serbia in trucks taken away from Albanians.

The crime "Depth II" must have been preceded by the crime "Depth I."

Five members of the Krasniqi family from Kosovske Meje - where at least one hundred men were killed on April 27, 1999 - were identified in Batajnica, Serbia. They had been transported to Batajnica via Rozaje, Montenegro.

In late April the official Prishtina claimed that the 18th mass grave was in Perucac Lake. At that time the media in Serbia were reporting 5,000 cubic meters of rubbish collected from the lake each year were the ugliest sight of all. Only the Ministry of Environment is interested in the lake in this national park. The media announced a regatta on the lake on July 15 through 17, accompanied by a swimming competition, a competition for the "best fish stew," a "health fair" and a "whole-day music program." The days marked off for the regatta coincide with the date when the allied forces of Serbia and Republika Srpska were working hard on a murder plan for 8,372 Bosniak boys, men and elders.

"How can one live in a country in which you stumble upon unburied bones of your dearest?" ask himself Czeslaw Milosz, an emigrant for more than a half of his lifetime. One part of his emigration he spent in a country with eight recognized religions, and the other in a country that forbids any collection of information about citizens' religion and race - ever since the French Revolution in 1789.



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