|INDICTED continued part 8
According to the twisted logic of the masterminds behind this campaign, the fact that the VJ General Staff publicly admitted, two years after the hostilities in Kos-Met ceased, that some VJ members were convicted, proves the precepts on which the ICTY Indictment is based. Would any army in the world, during an armed conflict, publicize information that would be used against it in public? A honorable and moral military, respecting the principles of military ethics and international customs of war to the maximum, even under extremely adverse circumstances, will do everything in its power to prevent any misbehavior of its members towards civilians especially murder, arson and looting or punish the perpetrators if such acts do occur. It is the militarys right and duty, and no international institution has a right to interfere with it, especially when it comes to internal crises and conflicts such as Kosovo-Metohija.
As soon as NATOs air and missile strikes and attempts to invade from Albania produced large numbers of casualties, the PrK command addressed the issue of battlefield cleanup in an March 31, 1999 order (classified #28-141, marked URGENT):
Based on standing procedures for battlefield cleanup and international conventions, and for the purpose of preventing the contamination of water, food, ground and air, I
1. Cleanup of the theater (finding and gathering of human and animal corpses, their removal from the theater of operations and burial, removal of anything that could endanger the health of humans and livestock) shall be organized and implemented either immediately after, or during the fighting and bombing, as soon as dangers for cleanup crews have been eliminated (removal of landmines, decontamination, etc.).
2. Cleanup shall be conducted by VJ and MUP units in their areas of responsibility, with the cooperation of local authorities municipal governments, military prosecutors, etc.
3. Rescue teams shall first aid the wounded and the ill, and only then decontaminate, clean up debris, fight fires, bury the dead, remove animal carcasses and refuse. In case of nuclear attack, all units shall adhere to measures of nuclear, biological and chemical (ABC) protection.
4. When necessary, regimental and brigade commanders should establish special detachments for cleanup detail.
The cleanup detail should generally be composed of a section, composed as follows: investigator, section commander, deputy section commander, a rifle squad, a medical technician, a veterinarian, 4 orderlies, 2 veterinary assistants, an NCO from companies that have suffered casualties, and two 2 ½ ton vehicles. The section can be reinforced with ABC detachments and combat engineers.
5. According to the intensity of clashes, form and equip appropriate work details in each municipality for the purpose of removal and burial of human beings and animals.
6. Chief Supply Officer shall issue the cleanup sections special protection suits as prescribed in the SOP, organize the procurement of plastic bags and the manufacture of coffins and gravestones in local workshops; he shall oversee the reception of supplies gathered by the cleanup sections, organize the distribution of meat from slaughtered livestock and the collection of livestock to be slaughtered; he shall also organize the reception, preparation and evacuation of skins from the deceased, killed or slaughtered livestock.
7. Chief Medical Officer shall issue all the necessary medical instructions for conducting the cleanup; organize the receiving stations for the wounded; regulate the procurement of the necessary disinfectants to be used in the cleanup; and survey the area to determine the locations for burial of our own as well as hostile combatants.
8. Chief Veterinary Officer shall issue all the necessary veterinary directions for conducting the cleanup; he shall organize veterinary receiving stations and corrals for the livestock.
9. Chief Technical Officer shall regulate the reception of all technical equipment retrieved by the cleanup detail.
10. Chief Transportation Officer shall organize the transport of retrieved military equipment and personal effects from the gathering points to the warehouse facilities.
11. Every burial detail shall be guided by the investigator, and commanded by the section CO, in the presence of a municipal representative and a registrar.
After the burial detail is complete, the section CO will give all of these representatives a copy of the full list of the buried, along with a sketch of the burial site.
Deceased or killed civilians shall be turned over to civilian authorities for burial. Personal effects of unidentified casualties shall be turned in to the garrison command posts or outposts.
12. Stragglers and the wounded shall be given first aid and evacuated to the nearest receiving station.
13. All injured hoofed livestock shall be gathered and offered aid, then sent to a veterinary receiving station. Hoofed animals with no need of medical assistance, as well as those marked for slaughter, shall be sent to gathering areas. Stray dogs and cats should be shot.
14. All the deceased or killed persons shall be transferred to burial sites. Deceased or killed persons shall be buried in individual or common graves; before burial, they shall be individually wrapped in plastic bags or put into coffins.
All military property shall be retrieved; personal effects shall be collected and listed, then packaged and sent to designated warehouses.
After the finished cleanup, all reports, lists of burials and sketches of burial sites, along with the personal effects of the buried, shall be turned over to garrison commands or local military sections.
15. Cleanup duties in the border zone shall be organized and implemented by the Army, and everywhere else by the MUP. For any questions regarding the cleanup procedures, consult the Battlefield Cleanup Manual or the Corps Command...
This order was supplemented by a new order of the PrK Command on April 8, 1999 (classified # 28-141/3):
1. Removal of bodies of our and hostile combatants form the battlefield along the border zone of operations shall be the responsibility of Army Brigades. For that purpose, they shall enlist the military investigators from the judicial section of the PrK Command, physicians and other members of the cleanup detail
2. Removal of bodies outside of the border zone of Kosovo-Metohija shall be the responsibility of Army brigades in their areas of responsibility, under the jurisdiction of MUP and county investigators, aided by local sanitation crews and work details...
4. Brigade commands are responsible for the battlefield cleanup in their areas of responsibility. For that purpose, they shall designate the responsible individuals and specify the procedures for establishing the necessary contacts with other authorities within the MUP and local judicial and executive authorities, provide the timely flow of information about the location of the bodies, and if needed, offer direct assistance.
Cleanup should be monitored regularly, and all reports forwarded to the Command.
Naturally, under the circumstances (intense NATO bombing of military and strategic civilian targets in residential areas, as well as constant clashes with the terrorists), not all the said cleanup measures could be implemented in all parts of Kosovo-Metohija. This is indicated in the report of the PrK command (classified #991-1) to the Kosovo-Metohija Provisional Administrative Council, dated May 13, 1999:
CO of the 37th Motorized Brigade reported on multiple occasions, starting on May 3, 1999, that the situation in Glogovac and the surrounding villages is alarming and can potentially have dire consequences. The town and its surroundings have no power or water supply, nor medical protection. They are running out of food supplies. Civilian authorities in Glogovac have been defunct since February 26, 1999, when they moved to Kosovo Polje. No cleanup was done in Glogovac or the surrounding area... There is a real danger of outbreaks of deadly diseases, which would further complicate the already complex situation. We suggest the following:
- that provincial authorities and civil defense forces urgently review this report and take the necessary measures to stabilize the situation, with the focus on feeding the population, providing medical assistance and cleaning up the area.
Protection fo Civilians VJ Commanders' Permanent Mission
The 78 days of intense and indiscriminate air strikes of NATO forces against military and civilian targets throughout the FRY, and especially in Kosovo-Metohija, caused heavy casualties and the exodus of civilians. These strikes began and ended in Kosovo-Metohija, with the first bombs hitting the Slatina airport near Pristina (2000 hrs on March 24, 1999), and the last impacting on the village of Kololec, NE of Gnjilane (June 9, 1999). According to the Serbian MUP, of the total of 3381 air and missile strikes by NATO between March 24 and June 9, 1999, most of them were directed against Pristina (406), Prizren (342), Djakovica (265), and only then Belgrade (251), Urosevac (224), Kraljevo (154), Uzice (152), Novi Sad (133), Prokuplje (121), Kosovska Mitrovica (116), Gnjilane (113), Nis (112), Pec (108) etc.
Of these 11 hardest-hit cities in the FRY, seven are in Kosovo-Metohija; at the top three places on the list are the Kosovo cities of Pristina, Prizren and Djakovica.
Given that military garrisons (Djakovica, Gnjilane, Kacanik, Pristina, Lipljan, Pec, Prizren, Srbica, Suva Reka and Urosevac) were located in the middle or near residential areas, and that police stations are almost always located in the midst of residential areas (Decani, Djakovica, Glogovac, Pec, Prizren, Suva Reka, Stimlje, Urosevac), it is not hard to conclude that the civilians had little choice but to leave the cities en masse and flee for their lives.
Indiscriminate targeting and the number of civilian casualties caused a justified panic among the civilians, causing them to seek salvation in organized or spur-of-the-moment exodus. It is well known that NATOs targets in Kosovo-Metohija included: residential areas, roads (1 international highway, four interstate highways, 2 regional roads and one local highway), railways (3), rail and road bridges (24), bus depots (3), rail stations (2), three airports (passenger airports, as well as recreational and agricultural airstrips), power stations and power distribution networks (3), power lines (6 lines), telephone and radio relays (1), TV and radio transmitters (16), post offices and the telephone system (3), warehouses (4), gas stations (4), water works (7), industrial facilities (24), agricultural facilities (13), hospitals, health care and rehabilitation centers (8), schools and kindergartens (11), public buildings (3), monuments and memorials (3), monasteries (8), mosques (3), cemeteries (4), refugee convoys and columns (4), refugee camps with refugees from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (3, etc.
Since the final death toll of NATOs air and missile strikes among civilians has not yet been established, we can only cite specific incidents in Kosovo-Metohija between March 24 and June 9, 1999, in order to illustrate the extent of the humanitarian disaster the bombing had caused:
Djakovica (Prizren), refugee column, 75 killed, around 100 injured; Doganovic (Urosevac) 5 killed, 2 injured; Gnjilane, 4 dead, 19 injured; Istok, around 100 dead and 200 injured; Korisa, 87 dead and 70 injured; Morino, 6 dead and 8 injured; Nagovac, 11 dead, 5 injured; Pristina, 10 dead and 8 injured; Prizren, 5 dead, 32 injured; Radoste (DJakovica) 2 dead and 1 injured; Srbica, 10 dead, etc.
Most residents of towns and villages, Albanians as well as other residents of Kosovo-Metohija, did not join the refugee columns. They remained in their homes, many under arrangements with family members who did join the flow of refugees. The main reason behind this was to preserve property. The fact that many families chose to split up like this testifies that the VJ did not persecute civilians (deport or forcibly resettle, as the Indictment alleges). Small-scale deportations or resettlement definitely do not qualify as ethnic cleansing. This is supported by the fact that Albanians remaining in towns and cities in Kos-Met were not tortured, abused or otherwise harmed (with a few exceptions we shall address separately). Masses of Albanians which greeted the arrival of KFOR in towns and cities throughout Kos-Met (captured on camera) clearly indicate that the VJ did not engage in ethnic cleansing. If any of these allegations were true, there would have been no one to greet KFOR upon its arrival.
Refugee columns and camps, whether those organized during the VJ and MUPs counter-terrorist operations (June September 1998) or those formed in March 1999 (until the beginning of NATOs aggression) were mostly used by CNN camera crews and other such media to give the world authentic stories of humanitarian disaster. It is necessary to add that these columns and camps were organized and run by special teams of trained separatist activists, with a well-defined objective: to create an image of humanitarian disaster and ethnic cleansing as a reason for NATO to militarily intervene in the Kosovo conflict.
These refugees were in many ways different from, for example, Serb refugees from Western Slavonia in 1991, or from Knin and Krajina, Lika, Kordun and Banija in the summer of 1995. Even externally, these refugees presented a well-prepared look: covered trailers, reserves of fuel, clothing, canned and dried food, gas burners, first-aid kits, radios, TVs and communications devices. Refugees from the Serbian Krajina had moved out at the very last moment, convinced they would soon be able to return to their homes many of which they left unlocked in a hurry. PrK signal intelligence intercepted numerous radio messages and other communications between KLA activists and leaders of refugee columns, with information on when to move out, in which direction and which roads to take.
here to continue, part 9