Spanish experts see no Serbian genocide in Kosovo
by Pablo Ordaz
commentary by Jared Israel (9-27-99)

[The website encourages everyone to reproduce the following report in full including this note.]

The following article from El Pais (The Country), a mainstream Spanish magazine, is most important. For months we've been barraged with stories claiming Serbs killed thousands of ethnic Albanians and dumped them in mass graves in Kosovo. Recently I did an internet search for newspaper articles, appearing in the past 90 days, and including the words 'Kosovo' and 'mass grave.' The report came back: 'More than 1000 - too many to list.' I had to limit the search to articles in the NY Times and even then came up with 80, nearly one a day.

It has been a giant air balloon of anti-Serbian publicity, but now comes the pin: Spanish forensic experts, just back from Northern Kosovo where, they were told, they would have to inspect the worst Serbian atrocities, found no mass graves and no evidence of torture.

We received this article at 11 PM on 9/23 and had a translation the next morning thanks to Herb Foerstal in the U.S. The translation was then checked for accuracy, again on no notice and within a few hours, thanks to Julio Fernández Baraiba in Argentina.

Below is the article from El Pais, followed by a commentary.

El Pais
23 septiembre 1999 - Nº 1238

by PABLO ORDAZ in Madrid

Spanish police and forensic experts have not found proof of Genocide in the North of Kosovo. Prisoners [in the prison in] Istok were shot after the bombardment of NATO.

Crimes of War - yes, Genocide - no. This was definitely shown yesterday by the group of Spanish experts formed by officials from the Scientific Police and Civilian Forensics that has just returned from Istok, the Zone in the North of Kosovo under the control of the Legion. {Spanish Legion? - EC} 187 cadavers found and analyzed in 9 villages were buried in individual graves, oriented for the most part toward Mecca out of respect for the religious beliefs of the Albanian Kosovars and without sign of torture. "There were no mass graves. For the most part the Serbs are not as bad as they have been painted," reflected the forensic official Emilio Pérez Pujo.

That was not the only irony. Also questioned were the successive counts that are being offered by the "allies" on the tragedy of Kosovo. "I have been reading the data from UN said Pérez Pujol, Director of the Forensic Anatomical Institute of Cartagena. "And they began with 44,000 deaths. Then they lowered it to 22,000. And now they're going with 11,000. I look forward to seeing what the final count will really be." The Spanish Mission which should now submit a report to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, left from Madrid in the beginning of the month of the August with the feeling that they were going on a road to hell. "They told us that we were going to the worst zone of Kosovo. That we should prepare ourselves to perform more than 2000 autopsies. That we would have to work until the end of November. The result is very different. We only found 187 cadavers and now we are going to return," explained the chief inspector, Juan López Palafox, responsible for the Office of Anthropology and Scientific Police.

The forensic people, as well as the police, applied their experience in Rwanda in order to determine what occurred in Kosovo at least in that section assigned to the Spanish detachment and they were not able to find evidence of genocide.

"In the former Yugoslavia," said López Palafox, "crimes were committed, some no doubt horrible, but they derived from the war. In Rwanda we saw 450 corpses of women and children, one on top of another, all with their heads broken open." The Chief Inspector added that in Kosovo, on the contrary, they had found many isolated corpses. "It gives the impression that the Serbs gave a choice to the families to leave their homes. If some member of the clan, for whatever reason, decided to remain, upon returning they were found dead from a shot or by whatever other method." {our emphasis}

One of the members of the Spanish mission shed light on events in the Istok prison, bombed at the end of May by NATO planes. The work, directed by López Palafox and Pérez Pujol was aimed at solving the following mystery: who killed the more than 100 prisoners - the bombs of NATO or the bullets of Serbian soldiers? The answer, according to the preliminary studies, is clear. Some of the cadavers analyzed had shrapnel wounds and therefore clearly appeared to have been killed by the bombardment. But others died of clear clean bullet wounds, perhaps from the bullets of machine guns. The most likely thesis is that after the bombardment, the prison inmates tried to flee and were shot by Serbian guards.


by Jared Israel

I've been reading mass grave stories in the New York Times for most of a day. I hope to do a detailed analysis soon. Meanwhile, here are a few observations:

* You would expect these stories to be horrifying. What is surprising is that they are so repetitious - using the same phrases - that reading them is exhausting.

* The articles are often written in semi-fictional style, as in "A cap lay on the ground, stained bright red. 'Who would believe the Serbs would do this?' asked the gaunt Albanian. A tear trickled down the old man's cheek." This kind of writing encourages the reader to suspend disbelief, as one does when reading a short story, to accept emotionally charged statements as true.

* Evidence, if any, is anecdotal; sources are vague.

* The discovery or even the rumor of a grave is cited (often in a press conference by some authority figure) as proof of Serbian atrocities.

These 'atrocities' are discussed in great, though entirely speculative, detail. Trial by media. It is enough to make you gaga, especially when you read such 'news' for hours at a time. The mental equivalent of smog.

* Arguments are circular. A supposed mass grave is discovered. Assumptions are (publicly and loudly) made about the unopened grave: the dead bodies will be Albanians; they will be civilians; they will turn out to have been killed by Serbs; the Serbs will have been soldiers or policemen. There is no systematic follow-up, no testing of these predictions against fact. Rather, such speculations, once uttered, become part of the record, to be cited in later articles as if proven.

The Spanish experts were told they would find 2000 bodies. They found 187. That is about 10%. Many of the 187 died when NATO bombed a prison or, apparently. afterwards, trying to escape. The war crime involved here is NATO's: it is a crime of war to bomb any nonmilitary target, let alone a prison, the ultimate sitting duck.

Let me dwell on this point for a moment. NATO of course knew that the U.S. Air Force had bombed the prison at Istok; it was publicly reported at the time and anyway, the U.S. Air Force leads NATO, so, as a teenage American would say, 'like, du-uh.' It was also no mystery that these bombs killed people, prisoners and guards - that's what bombs do. Obviously if the term 'war crime' has any meaning, bombing a prison is a war crime.

Then why, may I ask, were the Spanish forensic scientists told to look for evidence of Serbian war crimes at Istok? Given that a massive war crime (the bombing of a prison) was publicly known to have been committed by the U.S. Air Force, why weren't the forensic scientists instructed to look for a U.S. war crime? Why is it necessary for them now to give a press conference to reveal the STARTLING news that when the U.S. Air Force bombs a prison to smithereens - it is not an act of Serbian genocide??

The Spanish scientists and policemen are correctly perceived as heroic for standing up and saying: the bombing of a prison by the U.S. Air Force is not a Serbian war crime. Doesn't the fact that this is indeed an act of heroism tell us something about the present international climate?

Down to 5%

The Spanish forensic scientists speculate that the remaining cadavers were Albanian civilians killed by Serbian troops or police. If these speculations are correct, these people could be victims of Serbian war crimes. That's about 100 people, 5% of the promised 2000.

In considering this 5%, I suggest we adopt a cautious approach.


Every official in a NATO country is under pressure to parrot the NATO line. Nevertheless these Spanish experts aired their reservations publicly. Note that when they discussed the individuals with bullet wounds they made clear they were speculating:

"It gives the IMPRESSION that the Serbs gave a choice to the families to leave their homes. If some member of the clan, for whatever reason, decided to remain, upon returning they were found dead."

Of course, one can only get the "impression" that these people were shot by "the Serbs" for refusing to leave their homes if one accepts that they were members of families whom "the Serbs" had ordered to leave. But how could the scientists know this? They could only 'know it' from witnesses.

The El Pais story says nothing about witnesses, so now we must speculate; fortunately we do know a few things.

First, Kosovo is under a reign of terror by the Kosovo Liberation Army, with NATO's blessing. At the end of this commentary we list a few articles documenting that reign of terror, including first hand accounts. (See note 1 at end)

Second, both NATO and the KLA have a strong interest in proving that the Serbian government had a policy of genocide against Albanians. NATO needs to prove this because the existence of Serbian genocide was NATO's justification for bombing Yugoslavia for 78 days. The KLA needs to prove it because Serbian genocide is the KLA's justification for driving Serbs and "Gypsies" out of Kosovo. As Clinton adviser Sandy Berger put it, speaking for NATO and the KLA:

  • "All across Kosovo, we see reminders that America and our allies did the right thing in taking a stand against ethnic cleansing…. The Serb forces responsible for the violence are gone…But there is also tremendous sadness -- from the pain of remembering and the devastation left behind by Milosevic's campaign of hate. And in many victims there is rage, a desire for justice, and sometimes revenge." (Foreign Policy Adviser Sandy Berger, "Remarks to Council on Foreign Relations", July 26, 1999)

In this remarkable speech Mr. Berger a) gives the KLA the green light to attack Serbs because it's all quite understandable considering the "tremendous sadness" and "victims" consumed with "rage" and b) makes the purpose of the war crimes investigations perfectly clear. That purpose is NOT to discover the truth. Discovery is unnecessary; Mr. Berger has discovered the truth in advance. Rather the purpose of investigation is to provide "reminders that America and our allies did the right thing."

Thus the investigation is controlled by two highly interested parties, NATO and the KLA. Their control includes not only the handling of evidence but the recruitment and preparation of witnesses. Obviously such witnesses can be either agents of the KLA or under KLA domination. Any witness providing testimony disliked by the KLA would be risking his or her life. And as a recent story in the mainstream media suggests, the KLA considers lying a perfectly legitimate weapon in winning international support. (See note 2 at end) So much for the witnesses.

Bigots with a heart

And then there is the problem of the graves. The Spanish experts say the cadavers were found in individual graves, not mass graves. That is thoughtful of the Serbs. And even more thoughtful: the graves were "oriented for the most part toward Mecca out of respect for the religious beliefs of the Albanian Kosovars…"

This is curious. I have read many newspaper articles which argue that Serbs are hostile to Albanians because the Albanians are (mostly) Muslims. This supposed hostility was supposedly the motivation for alleged anti-Albanian atrocities. The Serbs say they don't hate anybody, that they have been fighting to preserve a multiethnic society against a terrorist assault by a racist faction among ethnic Albanians - a faction backed by the U.S. and Germany.

Let's assume the newspapers are right and the Serbs are mistaken. So first Serbian troops murdered these 100 Albanians out of religious hatred - and then they buried the Albanians facing Mecca out of religious respect. Isn't this rather strange behavior?

Perhaps the Spanish experts were lied to. Perhaps they were shown the bodies of KLA troops who died fighting the Yugoslav army; hence the bullet wounds (inflicted in battle) and the respectful burial (performed by the KLA army). That at least would make sense.

There are many graves in Kosovo, too many. For a year and a half a fierce war raged between KLA terrorists and the Yugoslav Army and police. Aside from those who died in the fighting, we have credible evidence that the KLA executed many pro-Yugoslav Albanians, as well as non-Albanians (who do not necessarily differ from Albanians in appearance) not to mention Yugoslav soldiers and policemen.

So, thousands of people died and were buried. The KLA has had a free hand in Kosovo since early June, plenty of time to move bodies around, to dress dead soldiers as civilians and to tutor 'grieving relatives' until their stories sound believable. And despite all that the Spanish scientists, sent to the zone of the worst Serbian atrocities, came back virtually empty-handed.

Investigation? or Inquisition?

Some people ask: are you saying Serbs are incapable of committing atrocities? No, as with all populations, some Serbian people are probably capable of committing atrocities. But to go from this general possibility to the charge that the Serbian armed forces systematically killed Albanian civilians (while publicly arguing for multi-ethnic unity and indeed arming many Albanians against the KLA) is to go quite a distance. Traversing it requires something: proof.

American legal theory says a person is innocent until proven guilty. Implicit in this approach is the notion that criminal investigation should be conducted by disinterested parties with a goal of finding out if there has been a crime and discovering the truth, not in proving a case to destroy some enemy.

Aside from whether this standard is actually applied in the U.S. legal system (a highly debatable point) shouldn't we insist it be applied when dealing with alleged mass crimes possibly implicating a government and an entire people? Or should such investigations be launched only as needed to justify NATO policy? Should guilt then be decided by a hostile US press with government officials making prejudicial statements before the fact? Should the evidence be the testimony of 'witnesses' supplied by the US side in a vicious war, 'witnesses' who testify in secret, 'witnesses' who are never cross-examined by the accused?

The use of these Inquisitorial methods of proof rebounds, proving that NATO (that is, the US government) and the media are trying to railroad the Serbian people.

Every time an accusation is made, two parties go on trial: the accused and the accuser. For if an accusation can be shown to be false, then the question must be asked: was it made with malicious intent? Was it perhaps cooked up to divert attention from and/or justify some other crime, some greater crime? Some crime, perhaps, committed by the accuser? (see note 4 at end)

The Spanish forensic scientists and policemen quoted in El Pais have done us all a service. By denying NATO's charges they have indicted NATO. In doing so they have risked NATO's wrath - and their careers - to tell the truth. Their decency gives one hope.

(See note 3 for analyses of questionable NATO/US government 'mass graves' claims)



Note 1: First hand reports of KLA terror

* For an interview with the leader of the Jewish community in Pristina, Kosovo, click here: Driven from Kosovo: Jewish Leader Sees NATO Complicity or go to:

*For an eye-opening report on a recent 2 week trip through Kosovo, click here: To Kosovo & Back or go to:

* For an interview with Kosovo Albanians who led opposition to the KLA and have been forced out of Kosovo by threat of death, click here:Kosovo Albanians - The Other Side or go to:

Note 2: KLA Woman's Story Exposed as Lie

Click here or go to:

Note 3: Analyses of NATO 'mass grave' and 'atrocity' claims

* Click here for 'Racak - The Impossible Massacre,' by Diana Johnstone or go to:

* Click here for 'Were NATO's mass grave pictures faked?' by Jared Israel or go to:

For a detailed look at (and refutation of) NATO's most important massacre story click here 'Srebrenica: Three years and still waiting,' or go to:

If you're reading this article in a site other than and would like to see other articles, please click here or go to: