Skip to comments.Judge Marinkovic Takes The Witness Stand
Posted on 04/01/2005 2:29:03 PM PST by jb6
Racak was a battle with the KLA This time there's video-taped proof!
Judge Marinkovic Takes The Witness Stand
SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC.ORG, Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Judge Marinkovic Takes The Witness Stand
Written by: Andy Wilcoxson
The Honorable Judge Danica Marenkovic took the stand, as a defense witness, at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic on Wednesday. Mrs. Marenkovic is an ethnic Macedonian, she was elected to her judgeship in 1984 by the Kosovo assembly. She worked at the district court in Pristina, and was the investigating judge who investigated the alleged massacre at Racak on January 15, 1999.
She began her testimony by answering questions about the status of Albanian and other non-Serbian judges in Kosovo. The indictment against Milosevic alleges that judges were dismissed because of their ethnicity.
Judge Marenkovic explained that the claims contained in the indictment were untrue. She said that no judges were dismissed, as that would have been illegal. The only way that a judge could lose their judgeship was to commit a crime, quit, or retire. She said that nobody in the judiciary was discriminated against because of his or her ethnicity. She pointed out that Albanian judges even sat on the Serbian Supreme Court and on the Constitutional Court, during the time covered by the indictment.
She testified that the KLA was legally classified as a terrorist organization, and that it was formed as early as 1992. She said that the Serbian authorities did not take any large-scale action against the KLA until March of 1998 when they killed Adem Jasari and his men. She said that Jasari had been accused of murder, and when the police tried to arrest him, he and his henchmen opened fire against the police. The police returned fire, killing Jasari and some of his men.
The witness described the KLA-s operations. She said that they carried out ambushes and hit-and-run attacks against police and civilians, as well as refugees from Bosnia and Croatia that were housed in Kosovo refugee camps.
On January 15, 1999 at about 9 AM, Judge Marenkovic received a report that the police had clashed with the KLA in Racak early that morning. She took a crime scene technician, Ismet Sufa (an ethnic Turk), to Racak with her in order to carry out an investigation.
Slobodan Milosevic played a video tape of the police operation in court today. On that tape one could see the police entering Racak on the morning of January 15th. The OSCE-s orange vans could clearly be seen on that tape as they watched the police operation from a hill overlooking the village. It was clear from the tape that the police were under fire. It would have been impossible for them to round up villagers and march them up to the ravine, let alone do it without the OSCE or the media seeing them.
Judge Marenkovic first arrived in Racak at approximately 2 PM on the 15th. She did not see evidence of shelling. None of the houses had damage that would indicate mortar fire. This is important because the indictment alleges that the Yugoslav army shelled Racak. She said that there was no evidence the army was anywhere near Racak.
When her team was about to go looking for people who might have been killed in the fighting they came under automatic weapons fire, and had to leave the village.
When her team attempted to return on the morning of the 16th of January, they were fired on again. She testified that her team was being fired on at the same time as William Walker was up at the ravine proclaiming that a massacre had happened.
Judge Marenkovic said that Walker-s conduct was improper. The KVM was supposed to be in Kosovo to monitor the work of the army and police, not to investigate crime scenes independently and draw conclusions.
She attempted to return to Racak together with her team again on the 17th of January. Again she was fired on. A video tape of the incident was played for the tribunal. The video depicted her and her colleagues hiding behind a car as automatic weapons fire was directed against them.
She testified that Gen. Drewienkiewicz, the British General in charge of planning for the OSCE-KVM in Kosovo, tried to obstruct her from carrying out an investigation in Racak.
On January 18th, Gen. DZ told her that she could not take members of her investigating team to Racak. He also said that she could not take the police, because the villagers (who he claimed were unarmed) would open fire against the investigators if the police were present. At one point Gen. DZ even threatened to report Judge Marenkovic to the Hague Tribunal if she attempted to carry out an investigation with her staff.
In spite of Gen. DZ-s belligerence, Judge Marenkovic went to Racak and was able to carry out an investigation on January 18th.
When she got to Racak she found trenches and bunkers that had been built by the KLA. These bunkers and trenches were video taped and the tape was played at the tribunal today. It was clear that the trenches had been used, they were littered with shell casings, and in one case a rifle tripod was left in a machine-gun nest that had been fortified with sandbags.
Her investigators also found weapons and KLA documents in the village itself. There were KLA uniforms, a large quantity of weapons, duty rosters, etc- and all of that was itemized and video taped. That videotape was also played at the tribunal today.
The topic of the bodies and the forensic investigation was broached at the end of the hearing today. The witness testified that 40 dead bodies, which had been placed in the mosque by the time she reached the village, were transported to the Institute of Forensics in Pristina.
She explained the composition of the forensic team that autopsied the bodies. The best experts from Serbia and Belarus were called in, and a team from Finland (led by Helena Ranta) joined the investigation later on.
She said that the forensic investigation revealed that the victims had been killed by gunfire that came from a long distance. That is where things ended on Wednesday. Judge Marinkovic will continue her testimony on Thursday.
Racak has been done before. Here's a cut and paste from another thread by a U.S. Army officer FReeper who was on the scene at Racak (scroll down from the provided link):
Sorry if this is kind of long, but it tells the story.
The Serbian Police gathered up the men and executed them in a ditch. I know because I was there. I watched the attack all day and was in Racak within 30 minutes of the Serbs leaving.
The Serbian attack ended late in the afternoon about 4:30 PM. At that time I and a few other observers in the area drove into the area near Racak to ascertain what had happened. I in particular wanted to check on a house (outside Racak) that a tank had been shooting at where we had seen people running around. It turns out the house had been hit but the civilians inside were not hurt. We also went in Racak and at that time I found only one man with the top of his head shot off. We had been there a very short while when we were called on the radio to meet with the regional OSCE Commander, a Canadian General, in Stimlje, about a kilometer north. By this time it was getting dark. After talking with him he asked us to drive in and find the KLA and ask them not to do anything in reprisal. I drove in to find them while the others went back into Racak. By now it was totally dark.
The local KLA was located in Petrovo, about 5 km south. I drove in the dark towards them and was stopped about 4 km south of Stimlje by a squad sized group of agitated KLA hidden next to the road. After they verified our identity we continued south to Petrovo. There I found the KLA deputy public affairs spokesman for that area and a KLA military policeman (MP) that had previously been acting as a translator (he spoke excellent English). They had no idea what was going on and mostly seemed happy to still be alive. I gave them the OSCE Commanders message and after talking for a few minutes drove back to Racak.
The only people we found in Racak were (if I remember correctly) two women, an old man, and a ten year old boy, all with gunshot wounds. One of the observers gave them first aid and we asked them where everyone was. They had been hiding all day and did not know. They said everyone had run away and SIGNIFICANTLY they told us the MUPs had rounded up a bunch of the men and taken them away. At that time we assumed they had been taken away to jail and our intent was to enquire the next day to the regional Police Commander in Urosevac as to their whereabouts. I then loaded the four civilians in my vehicle and we took them to the medical clinic in Stimlje for treatment. The Serbian doctor treated them but the were afraid to stay there because of a police presence in the hospital. I then took them to Pristina and left them at the city hospital. We took their names and later gave them to the people in Racak so they would know where they were.
The next morning at first light, about 0730, I went back to Petrovo. I told the KLA that I wanted to go into Racak. I also asked if they knew how many had been killed; they did not. After about 30-45 minutes we started hearing reports that something bad had happened and I took the KLA MP in my vehicle and we drove back to Racak. There we found a local civilian man and asked him to take us around to where any bodies were. We walked up a hill about a hundred meters outside Racak and found the 24 bodies in a ditch; first one, then a few meters further another, and another, and then at the end of the ditch a whole pile of dead men all shot in the head. We also found empty cardboard cartridge boxes to indicate someone had reloaded their weapons at the site. Down the hill we found a dead man who had appeared to be running away. Back in the town we found numerous other dead people including two brothers shot while trying to run away, a man whose head appeared to have been blown off by a grenade, and another man whose head had been skinned. I also was told of (I think) six KLA who had been killed. I told them I didnt need to document these as they were legitimate combatants killed in action. I saw no evidence to indicate that any of these bodies had been moved prior to my arrival, other than a few who had been taken back into their houses.
We spent a couple of hours documenting the evidence and sometime around noon I was told that Ambassador Walker and the press would be arriving soon. The OSCE guys were off looking at something so I (KDOM) met him when he arrived in Racak and took him and the press around to view the evidence. I then later took him to Petrovo to meet the regional KLA Commander after which he left. I then went back to Kosovo Polje and got drunk.
There was one KDOM vehicle and three OSCE vehicles there that day. That makes a total of eight observers and four translators. There was also not that many reporters, maybe two or three. I actually only remember one for sure and that was the French guy.
I was a Soldier, the guy with me was a Foreign Service Officer, and our translator was a teacher from Pristina. Of the OSCE guys a few were Military Officers from various NATO countries and the rest were contractors, mostly former military or police. Our translators were mostly college students or teachers.
We took GPS coordinates of the bodies so I never paced off a measurement of how far the trench was outside the village. However, it was no more than two or three hundred meters from the nearest houses.
Qestion from another poster: It is also my understanding that the KLA position on the "high ground" above Racak commanded this gully. According to the villagers' accounts in the HRW report, one group of MUP were waiting for the victims at the gully, and another group of MUP herded the victims toward the gully and the waiting MUP who fired downhill into the victims. My question is, would the MUP in and approaching the gully not have been in range of the KLA above? Accounts I have read indicated they were. Can you enlighten me?
The trench was between the village and the gully. It was immediately above and overlooked the south side of the town. It was no more than about 50 meters from the nearest house. The gully was beyond the trench further up the ridge. However, the gully and trench were not within view of each other. Also I believe the KLA was relatively quickly routed from the immediate vicinity. So the Serbs would have controlled the trench before they moved beyond it into the gully.
On the 15th we viewed the events from a hill outside Stimlje about one kilometer east of Racak. Our direct view of the majority of the village was blocked by a closer hill on the north and east of Racak. This was the hill I mentioned earlier that sloped directly down into Stimlje. On this day the Serbs had a supporting position, tanks, AAA, armored cars, and others on that hill firing south. They also had a machinegun position and a tank on the hill I was on. These were logical positions militarily as their fire was oriented on the area between Racak and Petrovo and prevented the KLA from reinforcing north. In addition, the Serbs had a 120mm mortar unit positioned north of Stimlje. Following are grid coordinates of these locations if anyone cares to verify them. I dont have the grid zone designators available but these coordinates are from a standard US Military 1:100,000 topographic map of the area south of Pristina.
Center of Stimlje: 030978
Center of Racak: 018974
Trench location: 010975
Gully Massacre location: 006975
Serb Battle Position on hill blocking our direct view of Racak: 022972
KDOM/OSCE Observer Location: 035970
Serb Machinegun position: 035971
Serb T-55 position: 039969
Serb 120mm mortar position: 024994
The point to this is that we could not directly see what was happening in Racak on the 15th. We also could not see what was happening on the hills above Racak due to distance, terrain, and vegetation. However, I do remember that early in the afternoon, after a period of relative calm, we heard a short time, around a minute or less, of intense small arms firing from the direction of Racak. I have always speculated that this was when the events in the gully took place.
On 15th January, 1999 I was patrolling with NAME DELETED and NAME DELETED, our interpreter. About 9am our Operations center told us there was tank fire in the Racak area so we proceeded there and arrived [in Stimlje] at about 9:45am. Upon arrival I spoke to a police officer who was stopping cars in the center of town. I asked him what was happening. He replied words to the effect: that the police were conducting an operation to arrest or catch the terrorists who had recently killed some police.
I then saw an OSCE vehicle from Urosevac which included NAME DELETED, NAME DELETED,and NAME DELETED. I made observations from the town of Stimlje. I could see two tanks and a Serbian 30mm anti aircraft gun and a police Pinzgauer transport vehicle sitting on the ridge between Stimlje and Racak. The tank was shooting in a south easterly direction. We could also hear machine gun and small arms fire from the direction of Racak.
About 10:45am NAME DELETED [from the OSCE vehicle] and I relocated on a tall hill (hill 685) south of Stimlje for better observation. From that hill I could see parts of the towns of Racak, Petrova, and Malopoljce. I could see in plain view the tanks and anti aircraft guns previously mentioned. Between 11am and 12pm, I saw several police cars go up the crest of the hill identified as Hill 685. The police established a firing position on top of the hill. They were followed by a Serbian T55 tank several minutes later and then a 30mm anti aircraft gun. During this entire time, the tanks on the ridge between Stinlje and Racak were periodically firing south towards Petrova and Malopoljce. The tanks and weapons on Hill 685 were also firing so that the entire field of fire encompassed the area from the south end of the town of Racak to the town of Malopoljce. This also included mortar fire.
About 12pm I could see a column of smoke coming from Malopoljce. I drove further up the hill 685 to see what was burning. I established the location of the burning building and that the tanks were firing at the village. I moved when I realized the tanks were firing over our heads with 12.75 mm machine guns towards Petrova. I moved to my original position about 300m north of the tanks.
We stayed there throughout the afternoon observing tanks and mortars firing towards Petrova and Malopoljce where I could see that they were firing at houses and impacting on houses. At 1500hrs from my position, I was about 700m from the house, I saw a muzzle flash from the tank and I saw two rounds impact on the house. A short time later, I saw people run from the house and into another house, a short distance away. I saw that the house fired upon had been occupied as there was smoke coming from the chimney of that house. At no time during the day did I see any indication that there was any weapons fire from the house.
The fighting continued until 1545hrs. Between 1545 and 1600 I saw the tanks drive away and the police leave the hills. They went to an assembly area in the hills 1km north west of Stimlje. At the same time, OSCE reinforcements from Prizren arrived (two cars). We met them near the assembly area. We had a short discussion and then we saw transport vehicles filled with police (MUPS wearing black uniforms and ski masks) move from the assembly area and drive towards Urosevac where they drove into the police barracks compound and stopped and got out. Some were still observed to be wearing black ski masks (Seen by OSCE crew).
At this time I went down the road towards Petrova to inspect the houses that had been shot at by the tanks and check if anyone had been killed there. I found the house that had been hit. It had hit a gate and part of the roof. I talked to a couple of Albanian villagers. They said no one had been killed as they had hid in the basement all day however they did not know where their children were as they had gone to the woods. It was about 1630 at this time and was starting to get dark.
I returned to Racak and met up with two teams from the OSCE. There were a few civilian villagers walking around. One of the OSCE staff showed me the body of a deceased man which was in the courtyard of his house. I examined the body and saw that the front half of his skull was gone, including the face above the mouth to the top of his head, blown away and his skull was empty. There were pieces of brain on the ground which appeared to have fallen where the man had been struck and died. At that time, the villagers that we saw could not tell us if or how many casualties there were. After a short discussion, I and one of the OSCE vehicles decided to travel to Petrova to meet with the UCK with the intention to meet their commanders and request them to exercise restraint during the night.
About 700 metres north of Petrova, we were met by a UCK squad who were in an agitated state. They were crouched down in the gully behind bushes. One of them jumped out on the road and ran around to the drivers side of the car. [I was driving] He asked for our interpreter and our documents. We handed over our passports for verification [we had diplomatic passports]. A few minutes later a car full of UCK soldiers (4-5) drove up in front of us. After about 5-10 minutes of discussions, they decided to allow us to travel to Petrova and asked us to follow them in their car. We went to Petrova to their meeting house which is where the UCK conduct all meetings with outsiders.
As we got there a group of Albanian men gathered around the car. This included some villagers from Petrova and some soldiers [UCK]. I spoke to Femi, assistant to NAME DELETED1. I have previously been told by the regional commander of the UCK for that region that NAME DELETED1 had been authorized by the General Staff, UCK, to speak for the UCK. From speaking to the men there, we ascertained that they did not know of any civilian casualties in Petrova. They did not appear to know of anything that happened outside Petrova other than there had been shooting all day. They all appeared to be fairly agitated. I also met a UCK soldier I knew named NAME DELETED. (last name unknown) Hes normally with NAME DELETED1 as a translator. After talking to this group for some time we left and returned to Racak about 1830hrs.
We drove into Racak and found an Aamerican OSCE observer based at Prizren nicknamed NAME DELETED who was applying first aid to three civilians. There was about 20 villagers around, all in civilian clothes and I believe all male. One of the men was holding a piece of skull which he claimed to be from his brother. One of the men gave us a list of about 20 men wh he said had been arrested and taken to the police station in Urosevac. We gave that list to NAME DELETED, operations officer, OSCE Urosevac to make inquiries. We found there had been two other casualties in the village, an elderly man and woman in her fifties. We brought them down to the car. We talked to some of the villagers to try and determine what had happened. They said most of the people had left the village and were up in the mountains. They estimated that perhaps 15 people may have been shot. No one had a clear idea.The villagers stated that some of the forces who did the raid wore black uniforms and ski masks. Others they recognized their faces as police from Stimlje. Others they recognized as civilians from Stimlje in police uniforms.
The men had been gathered up; the police had told them to run away; that they were free to go; as they ran away the police had shot at them. None of the persons who spoke to us indicated that they had seen this directly, rather they heard it from other sources. We places a few injured people in the car and drove them to the hospital in Stimlje for treatment. When we arrived there, there was two police standing in the door watching us. They remained at the hospital the whole time we were there. It took about 45 minutes for treatment. We evacuated them to Pristina. I took a boy aged about 10-12, a woman in her 20s, a woman in her 50s and elderly man in his 70s to Pristina hospital. During the drive to Pristina I asked these people some more questions. They repeated the account that men had been gathered up; told to run away and then shot. The woman in her 50s had said her husband and son had been killed that day. She had been shot near the knee. The boy was injured in the lower right leg. The old man was shot in the back and buttocks. The woman in her 2-s was wounded in the arm. The hospital [in Stimlje] had refused to evacuate these people in their ambulance. We left these people in the care of the doctors ar Pristina Hospital. We handed over the treatment papers from Stimlje. Another woman in her late teens or early 20s had been wounded in the upper arm. NAME DELETED took her to a relatives house in Urosevac.
My translator, NAME DELETED retained the names of the people we evacuated. We dropped the translator off at his house and returned to KDOM HQ for the night. I wrote a daily report that night. Several days later, Serbians dressed in civilian clothes recognized NAME DELETED [the translator] from CNN reports of Racak and pistol whipped him severely about the face which required many stiches. NAME DELETED [the translator] is a male in his fifties and lives in Pristina, currently employed by the OSCE as a translator.
At 0700hrs on the 16th January 1999 we met at the road intersection, center of town, Stimlje. NAME DELETED was in charge of this area. About 0715 I returned to Petrova to the meeting house with the intention of speaking with UCK. Initially there were just a few UCK soldiers and civilians walking around. I spoke to NAME DELETED [the same one I had spoke to the night before] a UCK military policeman. (The UCK have military policemen who also fight but are utilized to enforce certain orders or laws of the UCK. They are used to guard premises occupied by the UCK high command and othe sentry duties. They wear armbands with the initials PU on them which is Albanian equivalent of MP. They also dress completely in black uniforms and wear black berets.) NAME DELETED told me that thee had been no civilians hurt in Petrova as he had rounded them up the day before and sent them to a safer place. He told me that he had heard through another source that the police had taken a group of people into the mountains near Racak and slit their throats. Apparently a boy had seen that and got away. I asked if he knew about a group of men being shot. He said he did not know that.
About 20 minutes later, Femi returned. At that point he did not know any more than the night before. A short time later, a UCK policeman came in with a list of manes of civilians who had been killed. At that time there was about 20 names. We drew the distinction between civilians and soldiers. In the course of the conversation I also ascertained that 8 UCK soldiers had been killed. The regional commander of the UCK, Buja (first name unknown) arrived. His region includes the villages of Stimlje and Urosevac, all the way south to the border with Macedonia. Buja was extremely irate and not in the mood to listen. He said, This is all your fault that this happened. You sat up on the hill and did nothing when you should have been in the town stopping it. He also said we interfered in their capacity to defend themselves as they would not shoot in our direction and we were in the line of fire. He also accused us of escorting the VJ back to the barracks which prevented the UCK from attacking the column as it went down the road. I attempted to explain that we were not intentionally trying to protect the VJ from their line of fire. We had not escorted the column, we were following them to ascertain where they had come from. He was in no mood to listen to anything; he cut me off and said he was busy and that he had to go back to work and left. Although he was irate and verbally accused us, I did not feel physically threatened at all. He was just irate at what had happened.
Another soldier came in and gave Femi another piece of paper with additional civilian casualties, about 15 names. Femi appeared distraught at the sight of the names he received. Reports came in at that stage that there had been some sort of mass killing at Racak.
Between 0800-0830 I told Femi that it was important that we go and check Racak to ascertain what happened. NAME DELETED [the UCK MP] said he would have to coordinate permission from the UCK authorities to enter Racak. He sent another soldier in the car to get that permission and said to wait for about 10 minutes. While waiting, about 4-5 OSCE cars came by and I informed NAME DELETED what was happening. About 15 minutes later we got the authority to move. We took NAME DELETED and Femi in our cars.
First thing I saw in town was a UCK soldier, sitting on a rock, crying and hitting his gun. In Racak we were led by civilians and escorted by UCK soldiers up the ridge line, west of Racak, above the town in a small ravine.
I have examined the folder of enlarged photographs shown to me by Investigator NAME DELETED at the ICTY on 6 February 1999. I recognize the photographs as depicting scenes of Racak and of a number of the dead persons I saw on 16 January 1999 as described below.
On the way up to the ravine I saw a relatively freshly dug trench, just outside the town of Racak. I passed by the trench and saw a woman crying. I saw a mans body that had been shot in the head. It looked like he had been turned over. His body was about a foot away from where it appeared he had fallen, away from the pool of blood. It appeared he had been shot in the back of the head and there was a piece of bone protruding under his eye and cheekbone. Photographs xx-xx depict this scene. Many of the bodies I saw looked like they had been turned over to identify them. Every body I saw that day was in civilian clothes. With the exception of the woman and boy described below, all the bodies I saw were male aged between 18-80 years old.
About 20-30 feet past the first body, another man was shot in the head. Photographs xx-xx depict this scene. The third body I saw was also shot in the head about 30 feet past. The fourth body was about 10 feet further away shot in the head. At this point we also saw ammunition cartridges and cardboard boxes with .762 calibre markings on them. We collected these and handed them over to OSCE that night with a report.
We continued up the hill another 20 ft and found another mans body. A further body was about 10 feet up the hill. A few feet further up the hill I saw a group of 15 bodies. I did not closely examine the wounds of these 15 people. I had looked closely at the people who were spaced apart. About 10m to the north in a ravine, another body was located. My impression at this point was that they had been executed as all had been shot in the head and the large number grouped together. Photographs xx to xx depicts this group of bodies.
We continued down the hill and found a body of another man. He had been shot near the groin. There was a large amount of blood which had run down his leg into his boots. His boot was full of blood. His foot appeared to be broken at a 90 degree angle at his ankle. It appeared that he had been shot while running away.
I continued down the ravine until we got back to the southern end of town. I found a man who had been killed outside. There was a large amount of blood and brains on a rock outside. His body had been moved inside a room of a house. I saw that the top part of his head was missing. There was also a huge gash in the skin leading from the top of his head to his eye. I reported at the time that part of the injury couls have been caused by an axe. There also appeared to be a half moon shaped wound that indicated a bullet entry. I also found a part of the top of his head down the hill, about 20 feet from the rock. Photograph xx depicts the house described above. Photographs xx-xx depict the man described above.
There was another mans body, with a gunshot in the head in the next house down the slope. Photograph xx-xx depict this scene. There was another man in a nearby house sitting in the yard. Part of his eye was hanging out of his skull. Photographs xx-xx depict this scene.
Next to the house was a stream and a hill. Three bodies were found on that hill. We were told that these three were brothers. The men had been shot in various positions up the hill and their body positions indicated that they had been shot while running away. Photographs xx-xx and xx depict this scene.
We returned to the center of town. I saw a mans body whose head was missing. It appeared as if his head had exploded around the yard. There was only a small part of his neck remaining. It looked as if his family had covered up his body with wood and blankets but not moved him. Photographs xx-xx depict this scene.
The next body we saw was the man we saw the night before with part of his head missing. The next we saw was a woman we saw had been shot in the back. The entry wound was in the back and the exit wound near the shoulder. We were told that she may have been helping wounded people and was shot by the police while doing so. Photographs xx and xx depict this woman.
We then saw that womans father who had been shot in the head. The next we saw had been shot in the head, decapitated and the skin removed from the head.
The next we saw were three males together. One was a father, the second was the son about 10-12 years old, another was a relative about 18 years old. Thefather had been shot in the chest and knee. The boy had been shot in the neck. The third had been shot in the abdomen.
They were the last bodies I saw personally. I heard reports from colleagues that another two bodies were found in Racak. I also heard reports from Albanians that another five persons had been killed in Racak who were from the village of Malopoljce. Their bodies had apparently been returned to Malopoljce.
The relative of the man with the headless body asked when he could bury the body. I asked Femi to delay burying the bodies as it was important to document and record what had happened. He agreed.
On 16th January 1999 while I made my observations described above in Racak, I took 30 photographs of the bodies. The film I took was later handed over to NAME DELETED, OSCE. I later saw the photographs developed and they can be identified with a date reference on the photograph
After I viewed the last body I went back to the center of Racak to rest and decide what to do next. The French reporter was there. I believe he had been with us viewing bodies most of the morning. He asked me more than once if I would characterize what I had seen as a massacre. My personal opinion at that point was that it was a massacre, but I did not tell him that. I told him that it was not my place to make that characterization and that I would leave it to the OSCE leaders to define what it was. As I said before I got a radio call sometime around noon that AMB Walker was coming and tried to find an OSCE representative to take care of him. They were off somewhere else in the town and AMB Walker arrived with a large delegation of assorted international press and other OSCE people before they came back. Amongst these OSCE people were police from various countries who came to begin a proper investigation. I took AMB Walker and the entourage to several locations in the village and then ended up the hill at the gully where the 15 bodies were piled up. Here everyone looked at the scene for a few minutes and AMB Walker made a statement to the international press.
After returning to the village I spoke to Femi and arranged for AMB Walker to meet with Buja in Petrova. I cannot remember whose idea it was to have a meeting, but we decided to do it away from Racak because of the crowd and commotion there. I spoke to the KLA MP and asked if he could arrange to prevent the press from following us. As we left I saw that the KLA had blocked the one road out of Racak behind us. The meeting occurred at around 1500 hrs in Petrova. It was informal with the gist of it being AMB Walker asking Buja to exercise restraint and not conduct any retaliations. He also asked why Buja thought the Serbs would attack Racak. His reasoning was that Racak was inhabited by friends and family of UCK members; Racak provided the UCK with food and supplies; the Serbian Police sought to drive a wedge between the villagers and UCK in order to cut the UCK lines of supply; and the area around Stimlje and Racak was strategic as it controlled the mouth of the pass to Suva Reka. Buja also repeated his accusation that the massacre was OSCEs fault since it did nothing to stop it. AMB Walker told him that was untrue as direct intervention was outside the legal charter of OSCE and that all of the observers were unarmed. Overall the meeting ended cordially.
On the way back AMB Walker continued past Racak on to Stimlje and Pristina. I turned at the fork in the road and went back to Racak. I was amused to see that everyone was still there. We had asked the KLA to prevent anyone following us and they not only did that but blocked the road out until we returned to release them. I spoke with the OSCE observers there for a while and then returned to Kosovo Polje. The OSCE rotated observers in and out of Racak all that night and maintained a continuous presence.
I am neither an Abanian apologist nor a hater of Serbs. I have no interest in the area other than stating that I believe Racak happened as reported. That is why I entered this thread.
Do I believe that the UCK kidnapped and imprisoned Albanians that they considered collaborators? Yes I know this to be a fact. They told me so.
Do I believe that the KLA killed Albanians they considered to be collaborators? I do not know this personally but based on the evidence some of you have presented believe it is true.
Neither of these facts change what happened in Racak on 15 Jan 99.
Based upon my experience, I know that the the civilians in Racak were pro-UCK and anti-Serb. I had spoken to them several times prior to the incident. Other OSCE observers had had tea with them. One of the OSCE observers told me that one of the dead men in the gully was a man he had previously had tea with. They unanimously, as well as villagers I questioned in several other small towns, said "they loved the KLA. The KLA was their friend." Based upon their body language at the time I believed that they were sincere.
Racak was attacked and partially burned by the Serb Police in Sept 98. No, I do not have personal knowledge of this but it was reported to me. In that report I was given the name of a specific official who was witnessed burning houses. No, I will not name him on the internet, but I did give this information to the ICTY. After Sept 98, in Racak as in many other villages throughout Kosovo, the Serbian gov't cut electricity. From Sept 98 until Jan 99 Racak was without electricity in the winter and controlled by the KLA. As some of you have pointed out, the population in Racak in Jan 99 was greatly reduced from its pre Sept levels. If any pro-Serbian Albanians had previously existed in Racak, they were not there anymore. I was in Racak several times before 15 Jan and never heard the slightest pro-Serbian sentiment.
If I remember correctly, someone the other day posted a link where Buja said the UCK asked for volunteers in Racak on 15 Jan. I have no doubt that this may be true. However, this is not the same as gang-pressing. If you have evidence of gang-pressing please post the link for my consideration.
I neither saw nor heard of any evidence of KLA killing Albanians in Racak. I find this difficult to believe because of the extreme pro Albanian sentiments of the town. Also, we never heard even a hint of this in our efforts to find and question any eyewitness of the killings in the following days.
Someone in a later post asked if I was aware of problems between Stimlje and the KLA in the weeks following Racak. I have no personal knowledge of this but if true it does not surprise me because Stimlje had a significant Serbian population. Also, if you will recall what I wrote earlier, the Albanians in Racak reported seeing citizens of Stimlje, dressed as police, in Racak on 15 Jan.
As to whether I have been following the events in Kosovo and the ICTY trials, no I have not. Other than a brief period in 2002 when I thought I might have to testify, I have neither thought nor read about it.
That said, based upon what I saw and heard, and regardless of what happened before or after, I am convinced that the MUPs, supported by the VJ murdered Albanian civilians in Racak on 15 Jan 99.
I saw enough BS down there and the Islamics were moving in secret weapons from other islamics getting ready to run us over to get at the Serbs. Why our own generals gave the Russian generals sat ops photos to take the to the Serbs.
Furthermore, we had several armed stand offs and not one with Serbs, all with the Muslims.
You'll find this thread and the posts by Mark502Inf rather interesting. His are counter Serb supporting the KLA story.
Mark is in "rehash the lie" mode.
Who's Army were you in?
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