November 13, 2003
ERP KiM Newsletter 13-11-03
Belgrade and UNMIK To Establish Close Cooperation on Investigation of Ethnically Motivated Crimes
Finally, after four years, UNMIK and Belgrade Police officials are establishing closer links in investigation of crimes committed in Kosovo not only during the conflict but also in the post-conflict period. Immediately after the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was toppled and sent to the Hague Criminal Court the new Belgrade authorities, primarily Department of Justice led by Dr. Vladan Batic, a renowned dissident and opposition leader during the Milosevic times, supplied UNMIK with large number of documents and photo-materials related to the crimes committed by Kosovo Albanian extremists against innocent Serb and other non-Albanian residents of the southern UN administered Serbia's Province. The same materials were sent to Mrs. Del Ponte to the Hague. However, years have passed and both the Hague Tribunal and UNMIK officials constantly claim that they do not have reliable proofs for crimes committed by Kosovo Albanian extremists. On the other hand, campaign of ethnic terror against Serbs continued in Kosovo taking new innocent lives, including the Serb children of Gorazdevac this summer, Stolic family and many others.
Perhaps one of the triggers for the new change of relations was a recent article in the Vecernje Novosti daily which published photos of several KLA members holding cut off heads of at least two Serbs in their hands. In the first moment UNMIK officials seemed to be confused what to say, but soon it came out that the investigation of this case had began in August 2003 after several incriminatory photos were found in a deserted Kosovo Albanian house in the village of Prilep near Decani. However, this is only one in the series of many other crimes committed by the infamous KLA which was even proclaimed a freedom fighting organization during the conflict 1998-1999. Serbian judiciary and the Police Department have ample evidence on crimes ordered or done with full consent of the leading Kosovo Albanian political leaders: Hashim Taci, Ramush Haradinaj, Agim Ceku and others. Executions at the Radonjic lake near Djakovica were thoroughly investigated by the Serb forensic teams in 1998 and it was found out that the murders were done under direct orders of Ramush Haradinaj and his brother Daut. However witnesses are either dead or may be killed if they said anything at the court. According to these and other proofs which were sent to the Interpol HQ arrest warrants against former KLA warlords were issued. The recent arrest of Agim Ceku in Slovenia on the basis of the Interpol arrest warrant and his subsequent release from detention on the intervention of UNMIK chief Hari Holkeri is one of sad examples how political authorities ignore even such renowned international organizations as Interpol and how suspected criminals may be tolerated if they still might be of some use for the Kosovo UN administration. Some UNMIK officials simply reasoned that they could easier keep Albanians under control if their leaders know that their indictments might be activated as soon as they started behaving in an uncooperative way. But the reality on the ground has shown that these leaders understood this strategy as a sign of weakness and their own impunity and continued cooridnating extremist attacks threatening even highest UNMIK officials, simply reversing the situtation to their own benefit.
It would be very hard to believe that UNMIK and KFOR intelligence are not aware of the dubious past of the present Kosovo Albanian leaders but many analysts see that the international tolerance towards these leaders is mostly the consequence of their active cooperation with NATO during the Kosovo bombing campaign in 1999. One cannot but remember that similar "pacts with the devil" were made with Osama Bin Laden during the Afghanistan war (in the 80ies) when the western instructors trained Osama and his moujaheddin to fight the Russians. Or to remember, the words of Richard Holbrooke from his memoirs that a similar "pact with the devil" was made when Western intelligence services organized arrival of moujaheddin to Bosnia in order to fight Bosnian Serb troops. Since then the situation has radically changed. Russians are no longer seen as enemy of the West and Osama and his "freedom fighters" became the enemy number one for the U.S., especially after the tragedy of Sep 11, 2002. Milosevic is not any more a scarecrow of the Balkans and Serbia is steadily approaching Euro-atlantic integrations with other former Yugoslav countries. Perhaps, the only dinosaurs remained in Kosovo, who cannot understand that they are captives of their own anachronistic nationalistic ideas which are of no use for the West at the moment. But, the problem in KOsovo is that the West does not have much choice. There is no younger political elite which would give Kosovo a different image. To tell the truth the former KLA leaders who grabbed the power do not seem so much willing to lose their position and control of illegal transactions which bring them millions of euros. Kosovo is in a deadlock again.
The other reason for this benevolent attitude towards the former KLA leaders might be the fear that their arrest my trigger public unrest and attacks on the international personnel, like in Iraq and other Moslem countries. Kosovo does not lack extremists and the majority Moslem population, especially in passive rural areas is not immune to Wahhabi ideas from the Middle East. If this proves to be true then it would be very hard to deny that UNMIK and KFOR have become de facto hostages of the extremists which the leading Western countries armed and supported themselves four years ago. Again the same story, former friends (like Osama, Sadam etc) become a problem to get rid of.
In fact, the only thing that brought KLA and the NATO into an alliance in 1998-1999 was their common goal to get rid of Milosevic regime by taking over Kosovo which was seen as one of the strongholds of his political power and his personal charisma. Presenting Kosovo Albanian secessionism as a struggle for human rights seemed to be quite a plausable excuse to launch a massive media and diplomatic campaign to bring Milosevic to his knees. Indeed, some still argue whether the intervention was necessary or not but hardly any objective observer can deny that the real humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo began exactly when the first NATO bombs fell on Kososo and other Serbian cities. Even if the devil himself said at that time that he was against Milosevic he would be readily received into the alliance, armed and sent to fight. At the same time Albanians who openly greeted NATO bombs could not have expected benevolence of their Serb neighbors. Of course one could make a serious injustice to say that the situation in Kosovo was good prior to the bombing campaign but the first bombs triggered such a level of animosity, primarily among the Yugoslav army and police leadership, that the outcome could have been easily expected. Perhaps, one can go so far to say that it was not only expected but desired in order to justify the attack on a sovreign country which had a relatively low level conflict with its rebellious autonomous province. The fact that the UN did not approve of the intervention gave even additional reason to the war planners to find an urgent and convincing way how to make the public supportive of the bombing.
After the withdrawal of the Yugoslav forces, which was completed without a single incident, NATO-led troops marched in Kosovo. Immediately after them there came the KLA gangs which immediately seized power in most of Kosovo's cities begriming a campaign of terror: illegal arrests, murders, torturing of civilians in illegal detention centers and other crimes were widely covered topic by the international press. In many cases KFOR did nothing to prevent fleeing of the Serb civilian population. Several documentary films show KFOR soldiers assisting Serbs to leave their homes as if their mandate was not to provide peaceful surrounding for all ethnicities but to make Kosovo exclusively an ethnic Albanian province. Hundreds of Serb villages were looted and destroyed, thousands of flats and homes in major cities occupied despite the international presence. Calling Serbs to come back to their devastated or occupied homes now looks at least like a bitter irony.
KFOR argued that their primary mission was to prevent return of the Yugoslav army. Also one of their primary practical concerns was to provide accommodation for their troops and establish a complicated military command structure involving dozens of nations. At the same time UNMIK was just a small group of international officials, who mostly passed through Bosnian experience and arrived to Kosovo strongly biased against Serbs and eager to earn quick money. They immediately announced that the new era of democracy had began although every day news about murders, destruction of churches, abductions and looting came from all parts of the Province. The security vacuum which appeared due to restricted KFOR rules of engagement and almost complete absence or inadequately trained UNMIK police was readily filled by "new liberators" who actually never won a single battle against Yugoslav army. The brunt of their victorious euphoria was best felt by innocent civilians who decided to stay at their homes hoping that the "liberators" would at least spare the elderly. That was a tragic choice for many Serbs, Roma, Bosniaks, Croats and moderate Kosovo Albanians who were easily marked as enemies of the new regime led by Thaci, Haradinaj and Ceku. It was clear that the KLA's vision of Kosovo was diametrically opposite to what the West wanted and what the UN SC Resolution 1244 said. Nevertheless, "the petty vices" of the "allies" were enormously tolerated because Milosevic was still in Belgrade and everything could be always blamed on his regime and Serbs in general.
It was only after several months after the deployment that UNMIK and KFOR officials understood that Yugoslav army did not think of coming back to Kosovo and that their rules of engagement must be thoroughly revised. However, it was quite late for any dramatic change to the better. Kosovo was already almost ethnically cleansed by KLA. Borders toward Macedonia and Albania were left wide open and already in 2001 Macedonian Albanians amply supported by their Kosovo brothers began their own struggle hoping to win the same international support. At the same time weapons of all kinds continued pouring from Albania over almost completely unsecured mountain border. Some KFOR and UNMIK representatives understood that the real problems were not in Belgrade but in their own courtyard, but the majority still kept to the old prejudices and continued seeing Albanians as sole victims closing their eyes in front of ethnic extremism and organized crime.
Four years have passed and both UNMIK and KFOR officials still refuse to publicly recognize mistakes from the first months of their mission during which the most of innocent people were killed or abducted. Although many in NATO today admit that the "honeymoon with Albanians is over", Kosovo is officially still a "success story". In order to justify their failures even some commercial films were made which presented role of UNMIK and KFOR as fighting between "Serb and Albanian extremists" hiding the truth that on one hand KFOR found remnants of the KLA with various armed mafia gangs and on the other unprotected Serb civilians who remained mostly living in their tiny enclaves. It was necessary therefore to invent a balance story and the Serb part of Mitrovica was presented as a stronghold of "most dangerous Serb extremists". In fact their "extremism" was that they did not want to suffer the same fate of other ethnically cleansed Kosovo's cities and courageously resisted to Albanian incursion. Although one cannot deny existence of radical elements who remained in Kosovo Serb enclaves, North Mitrovica is paradoxically more multiethnic than any other Albanian dominated city in Kosovo. However, the mission must be justified under any case, not only because of Kosovo but also because of growing requirements for Western troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Failure of the peace missions in Bosnia and Kosovo would bring at stake the other missions and generally the idea of "humanitarian intervention" which may easily become an excuse for new "oil imperialism" like in the Middle East. That is why the truth about Kosovo is still kept away from eyes of the public.
At the end of today's newsletter we are bringing a story of a Serb woman who passed through the hell of KLA illegal detention camps with hundreds of other Serbs. In our subsequent editions we will devote special attentions to these testimonies as a humble attempt to initiate a more objective investigation of the crimes committed since June 1999.
At the moment almost entire former leadership of the Milosevic regime is in the Hague but at the same time initiators and main actors of the Kosovo campaign of terror still enjoy the laurels of liberators and are even seen as leaders who will lead the Province towards Europe (sic!). We can only hope that this injustice and the lack of evenhanded approach will not last long and that all those, no matter to which ethnicity they belonged, will be brought to justice. This will be the most what can be done for hundreds and thousands of those innocent people who lost their lives during and after Kosovo conflict just because they did not want to accept nationalism and hatred as their philosophy of life.
Fr. Sava Janjic
Thousands of Kosovo Albanians demonstrated in Pristina yesterday
photos from yesterday's demonstrations in Pristina: posters of Adem Jashari (KLA clan leader), Unioni Shqiperi-Kosove (Union of Albania and Kosovo) down right (from a previous demonstration of KLA supporters)
KLA ideas and methods still enjoy wide support of Kosovo Albanians
Kosovo Albanians Demand Unification With Albania
Tell Serbs What Awaits Them - Confession of a Serb woman who was kidnapped by the KLA
This newsletter is available on our ERP
Kosovo Albanians Demand Unification With Albania
Beta News Agency, Belgrade
PRISTINA -- Wednesday - Several thousand Kosovo Albanians gathered in downtown Pristina today to demand the UN-governed province be unified with Albania.
Protestors carried banners saying "Unite Kosovo and Albania" and "Release the fighters".
They also called on the United Nations mission to leave after what one of the organisers described as "four years of experimenting".
Faik Fazliu, who heads an association of Kosovo Albanian war veterans, complained of a "systematic assault on KLA values", in reference to the guerrilla [sic] group, the Kosovo Liberation Army.
The rally was organised by the two minor political parties, in cooperation with a number of associations of war veterans and invalids, and the Independent Union of Pristina University Students.
UN Police Arrest Former Rebel Commander
Beta News Agency, Belgrade
UN police arrest former rebel commander | 10:24 | Beta
PRISTINA -- Wednesday - UN police in Kosovo have arrested a former rebel commander who helped lead an ethnic Albanian insurgency in southern Serbia in 2001.
Sami Azemi - also known as "Commander Hadzi" - was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and illegal possession of weapons, his lawyer was quoted as saying on Radio Kosovo.
Azemi was one of the founders of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac. The group, which operated in southern Serbia, was officially disbanded in 2001.
His lawyer, Masar Morina, said Azemi denied the charges. He said that the arrest was not linked to the trial another former rebel commander, Sefket Musliu.
Azemi was remanded in custody for 72 hours.
UNMIK Police Meet Belgrade Kosovo Officials
Beta News Agency, Belgrade
BELGRADE -- Tuesday - UNMIK police representatives visited Belgrade today to meet officials of the Kosovo Coordination Centre, to discuss photographs published recently in daily Vecernje novosti.
The photographs showed an unidentified person in a Kosovo Liberation Army uniform holding two severed human heads.
The Coordination Centre, in a statement, described the meeting as extremely significant, successful and constructive, adding that ongoing police cooperation was also discussed.
Attending the meeting were the deputy chief of the UNMIK police Central Investigative Criminal Unit. The Coordination Centre delegation included the heads of the police, security, judiciary and human rights divisions, together with representatives of the Bureau for the Missing and Abducted.
Serbian judiciary organs to hand over KLA crime documents to UNMIK
Serbian judiciary organs to hand over KLA crime documents to UNMIK
Belgrade, Nov 11, 2003 - Head of the Judiciary and Human Rights Department of the Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija Vladimir Bozovic said on Tuesday that Deputy UNMIK Chief in charge of police and justice Jean Christian Cady confirmed that the UNMIK is now prepared to collect and examine the documents on crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in Kosovo-Metohija from the Serbian judiciary organs.
Bozovic said that the Judiciary and Human Rights Department will take part in the investigation into the murder of the three members of the Stolic family in Obilic.
He also confirmed that the Coordinating Centre's representatives will meet with the deputy chief of the UNMIK's Police Central Criminal Investigation Unit (CCIO), who is coming to Belgrade on Tuesday, to discuss a photograph showing one of the massacres carried out by KLA members in Kosovo, published in the Belgrade daily Vecernje novosti, with the intention of launching an investigation into the matter.
According to Bozovic, the meeting will also focus on the murder of Serbian children in Gorazdevac, the murder of professor Miomir Savic in Cernica and the recent attack on Aleksandar Stojkovic near Gnjilane.
"For as long as I live I will remember what the Albanians did to me and my colleague, Zorica Stevanovic." These are the opening words with which Slavica Vuksanovic (40) of Strpce began her testimonial for "Novosti". They were kidnapped by members of the KLA from a breadline in the center of Gnjilane and tortured for four days and nights. They fled with the assistance of an Albanian neighbor. A mass grave was later found in the area of the building where they were tortured
Vecernje Novosti daily, Belgrade
I*Net News, Belgrade
Tuesday 11 November 2003
22:40 Arben Beciri of Podujevo was sentenced by the municipal court in Kursumlija to 10 days in prison for illegally crossing the administrative border between Serbia and Kosovo. Beciri and a minor, R.K., crossed the administrative line between Serbia and Kosovo near the village of Borovac in the municipality of Kursumlija. They were arrested by a Serbia and Montenegro Army patrol near houses in the village of Borovac.
22:00 The medical condition of 75 year-old Aleksandar Stojkovic from the Gnjilane area, who was beaten up on Saturday by a group of Albanians, is stable but remains critical, stated the head of the Kosovska Mitrovica Hospital intensive care section, Dr. Milena Cvetkovic told reporters.
21:00 Serbian Election Commission director Radoslav Bacovic advised today that a total of 8,581 polling booths have been established on the territory of Serbia where citizens will be able to vote in the presidential elections on Sunday. Elections will be conducted in 180 municipalities in Serbia, including 19 municipalities in Kosovo and Metohija, he said at a press conference.
20:00 UNMIK headquarters in Pristina has been further fortified by the addition of a protective wall and a barbed wire fence, reported today's Albanian language media in Pristina. UNMIK spokesman Sunil Narula said this was done on orders from UN headquarters in New York and that increased security measures are in effect for all UN missions throughout the world following the attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad.
18:20 Vladimir Bozovic, the director of the Coordinating Center of Kosovo and Metohija's judicial and human rights section, advised today that UNMIK is ready to accept documents relating to KLA crimes committed in Kosovo and Metohija from official organs of Serbia and Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia.
18:00 UNMIK police have launched an investigation as a result of the photograph recently published in the Belgrade daily "Vecernje Novosti", showing members of the Kosovo Liberation Army holding severed heads of Serbs, advised UN police spokesman Derek Chappell. He denied reports by some media that UNMIK investigators are visiting Belgrade today in connection with the case.
15:40 Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina are the most dangerous areas in Europe, primarily due to the threat of terrorism, concluded the London-based Control Risk Group after putting together the list for next year.
12:40 Three persons of Albanian nationality who were arrested on suspicion of having murdered the three members of the Stolic family of Obilic were released yesterday, reported Albanian language media in Pristina.
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