INDICTED continued part 16

The Indictment’s claim that expulsion of civilians was the VJ’s main objective is senseless for at least three reasons: first, Orahovac is over 50 km away from the Albanian border; second, the VJ forces’ objective was to quickly and efficiently destroy the armed groups of the “KLA,” and it did not even occur to them in the process to expel unarmed civilians; third, at the time, the VJ had deployed in depth along the border with Albania, in order to defend from ground attacks from Albanian territory. For that reason, the last thing the VJ would want would be columns of refugees passing through its defense positions.

“e. Pec/Pejė : On 27 and 28 March 1999, in the city of Pec/Pejė , forces of the FRY and Serbia went from house to house forcing Kosovo Albanians to leave. Some houses were set on fire and a number of people were shot. Soldiers and police were stationed along every street directing the Kosovo Albanians toward the town centre. Once the people reached the centre of town, those without cars or vehicles were forced to get on buses or trucks and were driven to the town of Prizren. Outside Prizren, the Kosovo Albanians were forced to get off the buses and walk approximately 40 kilometres to the Albanian border where they were ordered to turn their identification papers over to Serb policemen.”

There were no “Kosovo Albanian” refugee convoys leaving Pec at the end of March (27-28). Some Albanians who harbored “KLA” terrorists did flee, since their activities were known to local Serbs and they feared retaliation. At the same time, some richer Pec Albanians, who did not want their sons conscripted into terrorist units, burned their houses or outbuildings and left their homes in order to have an alibi for the “KLA.” Finally, the chaos in Pec after the beginning of NATO’s aggression was greatly aggravated by terrorist attacks against a VJ garrison (which suffered 3 casualties – two enlisted men and one officer), from the residential suburb of Brezanik. These attacks provoked retaliation by Serb residents, otherwise known for tolerance. As in Djakovica, the Pec Albanians greeted the arriving KFOR in great numbers (over 30,000), a fact which best refutes all allegations of expulsion.

f. Pristina/Prishtinė : On or about 1 April 1999, Serbian police went to the homes of Kosovo Albanians in the city of Pristina/Prishtinė and forced the residents to leave in a matter of minutes. During the course of these forced expulsions, a number of people were killed. Many of those forced from their homes went directly to the train station, while others sought shelter in nearby neighbourhoods. Hundreds of ethnic Albanians, guided by Serb police at all the intersections, gathered at the train station and then were loaded onto overcrowded trains or buses after a long wait where no food or water was provided. Those on the trains went as far as General Jankovic, a village near the Macedonian border. During the train ride many people had their identification papers taken from them. After getting off the trains, the Kosovo Albanians were told by the Serb police to walk along the tracks into Macedonia since the surrounding land had been mined. Those who tried to hide in Pristina/Prishtinė were expelled a few days later in a similar fashion.

During the same period, forces of the FRY and Serbia entered the villages of Pristina/Prishtinė municipality where they beat and killed many Kosovo Albanians, robbed them of their money, looted their property and burned their homes. Many of the villagers were taken by truck to Glogovac in the municipality of Lipljan/Lipjan. From there, they were transported to General Jankovic by train and walked to the Macedonian border. Others, after making their way to the town of Urosevac/Ferizaj, were ordered by the Serb police to take a train to General Jankovic, from where they walked across the border into Macedonia.

It has already been mentioned that Pristina was the most important target of NATO’s air and missile strikes. Of a total of 3,381 strikes on Yugoslavia, 406 were registered in Pristina. In addition to an unidentified number of strikes against the military and civilian airport in Slatina, NATO also targeted purely civilian structures inside the city: the post office, bus terminal, gas stations, industrial and food processing plants, power stations and lines, roads and bridges, as well as residential areas, refugee camps (where refugees from Bosnia and Croatia lived), etc. Pristina is the largest city in Kosovo-Metohija, with the most diverse population. Therefore, it had the most refugees, of all faiths and ethnicities. Everyone fled the 78 days and nights of hell, created there by NATO’s bombs and missiles, desperately seeking safety. Though no one counted how many Pristina residents, Albanians and non-Albanians, ended up in refugee columns, certainly many of them stayed inside the city throughout the aggression. Those familiar with the situation in the city know that one or two family members would stay behind to protect their property, after others had fled. No one ever bothered them. Since families of VJ officers lived in the city throughout the aggression, they frequently interacted with Albanian residents in the streets, in shops and cafes. It was not unusual for good neighbors to protect each other’s lives and property, though there were certainly cases of contrary behavior.

Characteristic for Pristina, unlike other towns and cities in Kosovo-Metohija, is that no fighting between the VJ and the “KLA” terrorists took place in its immediate vicinity. This made the residents’ lives somewhat easier even during the NATO aggression. At the same time, this was the reason most of Pristina’s Albanian residents remained in their homes, to eventually greet KFOR units. Certainly, there would have been more of them, had the terrorist commanders and separatist activists not organized refugee convoys through Urosevac and Djeneral Jankovic to Macedonia, with the purpose of creating and propagating the stories about a “humanitarian disaster.”

“g. Prizren: On 25 March 1999 the village of Pirana was surrounded by forces of the FRY and Serbia, tanks and various military vehicles. The village was shelled and a number of the residents were killed. Thereafter, police entered the village and burned the house of Kosovo Albanians. After the attack, the remaining villagers left Pirana and went to surrounding villages. Some of the Kosovo Albanians fleeing toward Srbica were killed or wounded by snipers. Serb forces then launched an offensive in the area of Srbica and shelled the villages of Reti e Utlet, Reti and Randobrava. Kosovo Albanian villagers were forced from their homes and sent to the Albanian border. From 28 March 1999, in the city of Prizren itself, Serb policemen went from house to house, ordering Kosovo Albanian residents to leave. They were forced to join convoys of vehicles and persons travelling on foot to the Albanian border. At the border all personal documents were taken away by Serb policemen.”

Prizren was in the same strategic position as Djakovica, mentioned above. It sits on an important route from Albania into Metohija and deeper into FR Yugoslavia. Because of its geographic and strategic position, Prizren ranked second (right after Pristina) the number of NATO air and missile strikes (342). Naturally, the Pristina Corps commander gave due consideration to Prizren while estimating the strategic importance of the Kukes(Albania)-Prizren approach to FRY. Multiple attempts of overland invasion by the “KLA” and Albanian armed forces in this direction and towards Djakovica, failed despite NATO’s heavy missile and air support. That fact testifies to the depth of deployment and determination of the units defending this section of the border, including the rear area where Prizren was located.

We also need to add the constant attacks of the “KLA” terrorists in the rear areas of VJ units facing the Albanian border. VJ forces were forced to eliminate these terrorist groups quickly and decisively, since their actions – direct attacks on VJ units and spotting targets for the incoming NATO bombers – were synchronized with land attacks from Albania and NATO air strikes. For that reason, in this area more than elsewhere, the terrorists used their favorite tactic of using civilians as human shield, which made these civilians’ lives particularly miserable.

As on the route Djakovica-Tropoja, military necessity and security concerns for the columns themselves, made it necessary to channel the flow of refugees along the specifically marked roads. Movement of civilians across the Army’s fortified defense positions would have resulted in fatalities.

h. Srbica/Skenderaj: On or about 25 March 1999, the villages of Vojnik, Lecina, Klladernica, Turiqevc, Broje and Izbica were destroyed by shelling and burning. A group of approximately 4,500 Kosovo Albanians from these villages gathered outside the village of Izbica where members of the forces of the FRY and Serbia demanded money from the group and separated the men from the women and children. A large number of the men were then killed. The surviving women and children were moved as a group towards Vojnik and then on to the Albanian border.

Contrary to the Indictment’s allegations, at this very time (March 24-29, 1999) heavy fighting took place between VJ forces and “KLA” terrorists in the abovementioned area. The area in question is in the middle of Kosovo-Metohija, around Drenica, where the terrorists had the bulk of their forces (the 111th, 112th, 113th, 114th and the 140th Brigade, all in all some 2,500 terrorists). Details of “KLA” deployment in their Drenica Zone of Operations can be found in the refutation of Paragraph 30. At the time in question, only the 145th VJ Brigade was present in this region. The 145th sealed off Drenica and the “headquarters” of the terrorists’ ZO, but was attacked by terrorists before it could launch an offensive. The fiercest attacks came precisely from the villages mentioned in the ICTY Indictment. After five days of heavy fighting, the 145th VJ Brigade managed to break the terrorists, inflicting substantial casualties. During the battle, the VJ did everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties. Obviously, the ICTY Indictment converted terrorist casualties from the fighting in this are into “innocent civilians” – done here not the first, or the only time.

i. Suva Reka/Suharekė : On the morning of 25 March 1999, forces of the FRY and Serbia surrounded the town of Suva Reka/Suharekė . During the following days, police officers went from house to house, threatening Kosovo Albanian residents, and removing many of the people from their homes at gunpoint. The women, children and elderly were sent away by the police and then a number of the men were killed by the Forces of the FRY and Serbia. The Kosovo Albanians were forced to flee making their way in trucks, tractors and trailers towards the border with Albania. While crossing the border, they had all their documents and money taken.

On 31 March 1999, approximately 80,000 Kosovo Albanians displaced from villages in the Suva Reka/Suharekė municipality gathered near Bellanice. The following day, forces of the FRY and Serbia shelled Bellanice, forcing the displaced persons to flee toward the Albanian border. Prior to crossing the border, they had all their identification documents taken away.”

Everything in the response to sub-paragraph (h) (Srbica – Urosevac) is also applicable to the area of Suva Reka. A strong “KLA” presence (their 121st, 123rd and 124th Brigades, totaling about 1,000 men), made for numerous combat operations in this area as well. Despite the serious defeats inflicted on them by VJ forces during March and April, even though they used civilians using human shields, these forces managed to maintain a strong concentration of terrorists in the area. After the NATO aggression and the Kumanovo agreement, one brigade of the Pristina Corps leaving Suva Reka could not retreat along the pre-set route because it was cut off by the “KLA” terrorists. This was confirmed by KFOR commanders and international observers, and the VJ brigade changed its withdrawal route in order to avoid further confrontation with “KLA” terrorists.

The story of some 80,000 “Kosovo Albanians” fleeing towards Albania supposedly due to VJ “shelling” is a complete fiction. Suva Reka is some 50 km from the Albanian border. Given the situation and the in-depth deployment of VJ forces along the border, this exodus would have been impossible.

j. Urosevac/Ferizaj: During the period between 4 and 14 April 1999, forces of the FRY and Serbia shelled the villages of Softaj, Rahovica, Zltara, Pojatista, Komoglava and Sojevo, killing a number of residents. After the shelling, police and military vehicles entered the villages and ordered the residents to leave. After the villagers left their houses, the soldiers and policemen burned the houses. The villagers that were displaced joined in a convoy to the Macedonian border. At the border, all of their documents were taken."

We have repeated many times already, proving it with authentic battle orders and general orders of both the 3rd Army and the Pristina Corps, as well as the lower levels of command, that so-called fire from a distance (“shelling”) were explicitly forbidden, and used only against clearly identified terrorist firing positions during actual combat operations. In the time frame indicated by this sub-paragraph, (April 4-14) the counter-terrorist operations of the VJ were mostly completed.

In the indicated time frame, the VJ unit in the vicinity of Urosevac was engaged in tracking one of the downed NATO pilots, spotted as he bailed out from his stricken aircraft. The search of this area naturally involved searches of homes and other buildings, even interrogation of some locals in order to establish the whereabouts of the enemy pilot. This, and not expulsion of local “Kosovo Albanians,” was the only reason for searches conducted in this area. The search turned out no results. With the help of their civilian sympathizers, the “KLA” terrorists had managed to hide the downed pilot.

Paragraph 98 of the Indictment says: “Beginning on or about 1 January 1999 and continuing until the date of this indictment, forces of the FRY and Serbia, acting at the direction, with the encouragement, or with the support of Slobodan MILOSEVIC, Milan MILUTINOVIC, Nikola SAINOVIC, Dragoljub OJDANIC, and Vlajko STOJILJKOVIC, have murdered hundreds of Kosovo Albanian civilians. These killings have occurred in a widespread or systematic manner throughout the province of Kosovo and have resulted in the deaths of numerous men, women, and children. Included among the incidents of mass killings are the following:

a. On or about 15 January 1999, in the early morning hours, the village of Racak (Stimlje/Shtime municipality) was attacked by forces of the FRY and Serbia. After shelling by the VJ units, the Serb police entered the village later in the morning and began conducting house-to-house searches. Villagers, who attempted to flee from the Serb police, were shot throughout the village. A group of approximately 25 men attempted to hide in a building, but were discovered by the Serb police. They were beaten and then were removed to a nearby hill, where the policemen shot and killed them. Altogether, the forces of the FRY and Serbia killed approximately 45 Kosovo Albanians in and around Racak. (Those persons killed who are known by name are set forth in Schedule A, which is attached as an appendix to this indictment.)”

Everything that needed to be said about this fabrication by Walker was already said in the response to paragraph 28. This “Kosovo Markale” cannot be the basis of accusations against the Yugoslavs. The “Racak incident,” as a pretext for launching a criminal aggression of NATO against the FRY, is the criminal responsibility of U.S. Ambassador William Walker as the head of OSCE’s KVM, its organizers, and the leaders of NATO.

Two facts need to be made clear at this point. First of all, the no “FRY forces” took part in the “Racak incident,” i.e. the VJ was in its barracks, according to the terms of the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement. Secondly, the contents of the Indictment’s Paragraph 98(a) are identical to all the other allegations in this category (paragraphs 97, 98 and 99). That, by itself, casts serious doubt as to the accuracy of other paragraphs in the Indictment.

“b. On or about 25 March 1999, forces of the FRY and Serbia attacked the village of Bela Crkva (Orahovac/Rahovec municipality). Many of the residents of Bela Crkva fled into a streambed outside the village and sought shelter under a railroad bridge. As additional villagers approached the bridge, a Serbian police patrol opened fire on them killing 12 persons, including 10 women and children. The police then ordered the remaining villagers out of the streambed, at which time the men were separated from the women and small children. The police ordered the men to strip and then systematically robbed them of all valuables. The women and children were then ordered to leave. The village doctor attempted to speak with the police commander, but he was shot and killed, as was his nephew. The other men were then ordered back into the streambed. After they complied, the police opened fire on the men, killing approximately 65 Kosovo Albanians. (Those persons killed who are known by name are set forth in Schedule B which is attached as an appendix to the indictment.)

c. On or about 25 March 1999, the villages of Velika Krusa and Mali Krusa/Krushe e Mahde and Krushe e Vogel (Orahovac/Rahovec municipality) were attacked by forces of the FRY and Serbia. Village residents took refuge in a forested area outside Velika Krusa/Krushe e Mahde, where they were able to observe the police systematically looting and then burning the villagers’ houses. On or about the morning of 26 March 1999, Serb police located the villagers in the forest. The police ordered the women and small children to leave the area and to go to Albania. The police then searched the men and boys and took their identity documents, after which they were made to walk to an uninhabited house between the forest and Mali Krusa/Krushe e Vogel. Once the men and boys were assembled inside the house, the Serb police opened fire on the group. After several minutes of gunfire, the police piled hay on the men and boys and set fire to it in order to burn the bodies. As a result of the shootings and the fire, approximately 105 Kosovo Albanian men and boys were killed by the Serb police. (Those persons killed who are known by name are set forth in Schedule C which is attached as an appendix to this indictment.)”

No VJ units were present in these areas on the said dates (March 25-26, 1999).

“d. On or about the evening of 26 March 1999, in the town of Dakovica/Gjakovė , Serb gunmen came to a house on Ymer Grezda Street. The women and children inside the house were separated from the men, and were ordered to go upstairs. The Serb gunmen then shot and killed the 6 Kosovo Albanian men who were in the house. (The names of those killed are set forth in Schedule D which is attached as an appendix to this indictment.)”

On the said date, (March 26) no "forces of the FRY and Serbia" took part in any battles with “Kosovo Albanians” in Djakovica. As sub-paragraph (d) clearly indicates, these were “gunmen” – civilians, Serb or Albanian, fighting amongst themselves and “settling” old scores, perhaps.

“e. On or about 27 March 1999, in the morning hours, forces of the FRY and Serbia attacked the village of Crkolez/Padalishte (Istok/Istog municipality). As the forces entered the village, they fired on houses and on villagers who attempted to flee. Eight members of the Beke IMERAJ family were forced from their home and were killed in front of their house. Other residents of Crkolez/Padalishte were killed at their homes and in a streambed near the village. Altogether, forces of the FRY and Serbia killed approximately 20 Kosovo Albanians from Crkolez/Padalishte. (Those persons killed who are known by name are set forth in Schedule E which is attached as an appendix to this indictment.)”

See the response to sub-paragraph (d).

f. On or about 27 March 1999, FRY and Republic of Serbia forces attacked the village of Izbica (Srbica/Skenderaj municipality). Several thousand village residents took refuge in a meadow outside the village. On or about 28 March 1999, forces of the FRY and Serbia surrounded the villagers and then approached them, demanding money. After valuables were stolen by the soldiers and policemen, the men were separated from the women and small children. The men were then further divided into two groups, one of which was sent to a nearby hill, and the other of which was sent to a nearby streambed. Both groups of men were then fired upon by the forces of the FRY and Serbia, and approximately 130 Kosovo Albanian men were killed. (Those persons killed who are known by name are set forth in Schedule F which is attached as an appendix to this indictment.)

The village of Izbica (Urosevac municipality), was a fortified position of KLA terrorists, and at the time an objective of Pristina Corps’ counter-terrorist operations along with several other fortifications. Pristina Corps forces, overcame the terrorist stronghold in Izbica and inflicted casualties on thee enemy. Whether the terrorist death toll was 130, the Pristina Corps battle reports do not say. After the fact, following Walker's Racak recipe, terrorist casualties are as a general rule cited here as "innocent civilians" and presented to the public as victims of war crimes. Sub-paragraph (f) makes is no mention of KLA forces in Izbica, as if they never existed. Izbica belonged to the KLA operational command "Nerodimlje," which included two brigades of the terrorists. That fact sheds light on the obvious intent of the Indictment to declare terrorists the victims, and present anti-terrorist fighters as criminals.

In responding to Paragraph 97, we cited the reports of the 3rd Army military prosecutor, which contained the information that his office was gathering facts and information about whether the “fresh graves” found in Izbica were only those of the “KLA” casualties, or if some of them contained civilian casualties.

“g. On or about the early morning hours of 2 April 1999, Serb police launched an operation against the Qerim district of Dakovica/Gjakovė . Over a period of several hours, Serb police forcibly entered houses of Kosovo Albanians in the Qerim district, killing the occupants, and then setting fire to the buildings. In the basement of a house on Millosh Gilic Street, the Serb police shot the 20 occupants and then set the house on fire. As a result of the shootings and the fires set by the Serb police, 20 Kosovo Albanians were killed, of whom 19 were women and children. (The names of those killed are set forth in Schedule G which is attached as an appendix to this indictment.)”

The Kerim/Qerim district of Djakovica was the more affluent quarter of the city. Most of its wealthy inhabitants attempted to distance themselves from the terrorists’ extremism which caused dissatisfaction among the “KLA”. No VJ unit was subject to any harassment while passing through this quarter of Djakovica. They had no reason to deploy in the quarter, so they did not. However, the wealth of Kerim residents could have made them a tempting target for bands of marauders. The VJ, however, had nothing to with that.

Paragraph 99 of the Indictment says: Beginning on or about 1 January 1999 and continuing until the date of this indictment, the forces of the FRY and Serbia, acting at the direction, with the encouragement, or with the support of Slobodan MILOSEVIC, Milan MILUTINOVIC, Nikola SAINOVIC, Dragoljub OJDANIC, and Vlajko STOJILJKOVIC, have utilised the means and methods set forth in paragraphs 92 through 98 to execute a campaign of persecution against the Kosovo Albanian civilian population based on political, racial, or religious grounds.

COMMENT: There is no need to repeat here everything that has already been said in the refutation of paragraphs 92-98 of the Indictment.

Paragraph 100 of the Indictment says: “100. By these actions Slobodan MILOSEVIC, Milan MILUTINOVIC, Nikola SAINOVIC, Dragoljub OJDANIC, and Vlajko STOJILJKOVIC planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted the planning, preparation or execution of:

Count 1: Deportation, a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY, punishable under Article 5(d) of the Statute of the Tribunal.

Count 2: Murder, a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY, punishable under Article 5 (a) of the Statute of the Tribunal.

Count 3: Murder, a VIOLATION OF THE LAWS OR CUSTOMS OF WAR, punishable under Article 3 of the Statute of the Tribunal and recognised by Article 3(1)(a) (murder) of the Geneva Conventions.

Count 4: Persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds, a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY, punishable under Article 5(h) of the Statute of the Tribunal.

[signed] Louise Arbour

22 May 1999
The Hague, The Netherlands

Claims made in paragraph 100 of the Indictment, under counts 1, 2, 3 and 4 are baseless, since they have not been proven in any way.

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