Crimes of the KLA: Command responsibility of Ramush Haradinaj
Massacre in the village of his birth
The leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo was the commander of the district where several dozens of non-Albanians were killed in 1998
By Jelena BJELICA
The village of Glodjane is located in Metohija, approximately seven kilometers from Decani and about 20 kilometers from the border with Albania. Glodjane is a purely ethnic Albanian village. In its immediate proximity in the village of Dubrava, at the beginning of which is a house belonging to the only non-Albanian family in the ten or so surrounding villages, some 100 meters from the last house in Glodjane, belonging to Eljmija Haradinaj. The Haradinaj family has been quite involved in crimes against Serbs.
"The local Albanians say that everything began when a police patrol leaving from Glodjane tried to stop and obtain the identification cards two young men, Rasim Selmanaj, an activist of the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo, and another young man whose name is not mentioned. According to another version of the story, the police opened fire on Rasim and the other young man when they refused to stop. According to the official report of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) of Serbia, on March 24, 1998 at 10:45 a.m., an armed terrorist attack was carried out against a police patrol in the village of Dubrava, Decani municipality, Kosovo and Metohija.", it is stated in the report of the Humanitarian Rights Foundation (Fond za humanitarna prava - FHP) from May 1998. On that day, as confirmed by a KLA statement from May 1998, during "a successful operation against the occupier" near Glodjane, fighters Gazmend and Agron Mehmetaj and Him Haradinaj were killed. The police withdrew from the village at about 8:00 o'clock in the evening. After these clashes, the Kosovo Liberation Army established control points at the entrance and exit from the village and took control of it.
At the beginning of the same year, Ramush Haradinaj returned permanently from Switzerland to Kosovo and joined this Albanian paramilitary formation. His brother Daut was one of the key people of the KLA, responsible for its organization in the Metohija district. Daut was one of three members of the KLA who appeared for the first time in public in the village of Drenica at the funeral of a teacher killed by the Serbian police. At that funeral, he gave a speech in which he stated that the KLA officially exists. At the beginning of April, the command headquarters of the KLA, under the command of Hashim Thaci, appointed Ramush Haradinaj commander of the Metohija region. Haradinaj's headquarters was located in Glodjane, where he was born, according to the book "Stories of War and Freedom" by Bardah Hamzaj, the deputy editor-in-chief of the Pristina daily "Zeri", prepared in the format of a dialog with Ramush Haradinaj.
Not knowing that his father had been taken from his house, on the morning of April 22, 1998, Novak Stijovic headed for the village of Pozar with the intent of accompanying his father to Decani. Stanisa Radosevic and his mother Rosa went with him in search of Slobodan Radosevic (the father) who one day earlier had decided to remain in the village of Dasinovac with Milica and Milos Radunovic and look after his property after the KLA took control of the village. In the village of Pozar, they were stopped by a group of armed Albanians. In a statement made for FHP, Novak said: "There were about 30 of them; we recognized them. They pointed guns at us. They searched us and said that they had to take us to the headquarters in Glodjane. One of them held a gun pointed at my head. On the road to Rznici, there were 50-60 armed civilians every 50 meters; from Rznici to Glodjane, everyone was in uniform." All three were released later that same day but they were not allowed to go to Dasinovac to get Slobodan.
Almost all citizens who were stopped on any of the local roads in spring of 1998 were taken to the headquarters in Glodjane. In the headquarters in Glodjane, members of the KLA applied well-known methods. "They took us to the headquarters in the house of Nasim Haradinaj, abandoned back in 1990; we had heard that the owners were living in Sweden," said Mijat Stojanovic in a statement for FHP. Stojanovic is the owner of the only non-Albanian house in Dubrava; on April 18 he was arrested in his house, together with his brother Dragoslav and cousin Veselin Stijovic, and they were taken to the headquarters. "We were forced to lie down on concrete. First they took Dragoslav into a small room where there were two chairs. There were two soldiers there and a third who interrogated him. Nemonaj Zici, whom I knew from before, ordered me to remove my clothes. Two of them beat me with clubs and rifle butts. This lasted approximately 40 minutes."
In the general area of the village of Glodjane in the first half of September 1998 at least 39 bodies were discovered in various stages of decomposition. The bodies were found at three different locations on a collective farm in the village of Rznici, in a canal leading to Radonjic Lake and near it, and proximate to the canal in the village of Dasinovac.
During the course of events, after yet another clash between members of the KLA and the (Yugoslav) army and (Serbian) police on September 8, 1998, during "pursuit after terrorists and a search of the district," as written in the official police report, 13 unidentified bodies of civilians of both sexes and various ages were discovered in the canal supplying Radonjic Lake.
The very next day the investigating judge of the District Court in Pec, Radomir Gojkovic, wrote a petition to the Institute for Forensic Medicine in Belgrade requesting the appointment of a group of experts for establishing the identity, causes and time of death and other data relevant for future activities in connection with the mass grave near Gl odjane. In the meanwhile, during the first phase of searching the district begun on September 11, at least 21 additional bodies were found. "During the first several days of the investigation the weather was dry, sunny and warm. Several days later it began to rain. The level of water in the canal rose significantly, carrying body parts, clothing and objects down the canal.", it is written in the report. Several days later, five additional bodies were found. During the autopsy 12 of these bodies were identified. The bodies of the above-mentioned Radunovices and Radosevic, last seen at the end of April, were found near the canal in the village of Dasinovac. "Due to various stages of decomposition, it was not possible to establish the cause of death solely on the basis of the conducted autopsy. However, in 19 cases traces of wounds were found on the bones and there is no doubt that they are made by bullets fired from weapons of a small caliber. In 24 cases signs of mechanical weapons were found; in two cases there were traces of sharp mechanical weapons, while in three instances, according to the marks on the bones and clothes of the victims, they were exposed to high temperatures (bodies found in Dasinovac). Several objects on and near the bodies (metal wire and adhesive tape) suggest that some of the victims were first tied up and tortured," it is written in the experts' report on the cause of death. All the victims were killed during the period between April 1998 and the end of August of the same year, give or take a few days.
At the end of 1999 the chief prosecutor of the Hague tribunal, Carla del Ponte, announced that an investigation had been started regarding war crimes against the non-Albanian population in Kosovo. The investigation was almost completely blocked until recently because information was not forthcoming from either side, the spokeswoman of the prosecutor's office of the Hague tribunal, Florence Hartmann (Florence Hartmann-Domankusic), told "Reporter". The new government in Serbia, according to Hartmann, has submitted all documentation to The Hague. "Indictments will be issued only against those persons against whom we have evidence," she explained. Zoran Zivkovic, the Yugoslav minister of internal affairs, told "Reporter" that "more than 30 kilograms of various documents were turned over to the head of the office of the Hague tribunal in Belgrade." In the meanwhile, the investigators of this tribunal have collected about 80 testimonials from family members of the missing and witnesses.
Despite increasingly frequent public discussion (in Serbia) that Agim Cheku, Hashim Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj are under investigation by the Hague tribunal, Hartmann said that "the investigation is in progress", however, she added that she "never confirmed that these three men are under investigation."
Translated by S. Lazovic (Dec. 27, 2001)
Additional articles from the international press related to Mr. Haradinaj:
Macedonia: Ramush Haradinaj
Musaj Family - We Were Attacked, July 11, 2000 - Abuses of KPC
information on "Commander" Ramush Haradinaj, Balkanpeace.org
Selected articles related to Ramush Haradinaj
Proved: United States Associates With And Actively Supports Albanian Criminals in the Balkans As Evidence is Hidden
It has long been
rumoured that the USA equipped, trained and dressed the KLA (Kosovo
Liberation Army) for use against the Serbs in Kosovo. Such an instrument
would give the USA leverage over a crucial area of Eastern Europe and
would also placate the Albanian Mafia pressure groups in New York.
Haradinaj's file on the Macedonian site
According to the website Who is Who and What is What in the Albanian Cause, Ramush Haradinaj is former commander in the KLA and former right-hand man of Agim Cheku, the head of the Kosovo Protection Corps, convicted war criminal. Formally, after a financial scandal, Haradinaj was removed from his post in KPC. His brother, Daut Haradinaj, former KPC commander for Metohija, is on U.S. President's black list of Albanian terrorists.
On May 25, 2000, Haradinaj participated in the Gnjilane meeting (also attended by Agim Cheku, Murat Jashari, Shaqir Shaqiri, and Shefket Musliu). The goal of this meeting was continuing of war in Serbia and preparation for war in Macedonia.
Haradinaj's main source of income is smuggling of tobacco and illegal drugs, under control of Naser Kelmendi and Ekrem Luka. On July 7, 2000, Haradinaj was wounded in the village Strelci, West Kosovo, and treated in an American Hospital in Germany. The motive for the wounding was inter-mafia conflict between the gangs belonging to Tachi-Haradinaj and Musaj families.
In 1999, the KLA unit under Ramush Haradinaj's command killed 40 civilians from the Kosovo village of Glodjani and threw the bodies into the Radonjic Lake canal.
Slaughter at a Children's Cafe
On December 14, 1998, six children were murdered when a masked gunman sprayed the Panda Cafe in Pec with bullets. The crime was so horrendous that even US Balkans envoy Richard Holbrooke denounced it. (Footnote 8)
'"Because of its cruelty and its cowardice, this crime stands above all crimes,' said Mirko Simonovic, principal of the slain teenagers' school'. (Agence France Presse Footnote 8)
The KLA was behind the attack. But who in particular?
".......His [Ramush Hajredinaj's] men already are suspected of carrying out the Panda Cafe murders, when masked rebels opened fire in December on a restaurant the city of Pec, killing six Serbian youths. His men also are suspected of shooting at U.S. diplomatic monitors......." (AP 3-8-99 Footnote 8, my emphasis)
Hajredinaj was also apparently involved in a slaughter of civilians in the town of Glodjane. This time the victims included non-Serbs:
"Glodjane, further west in the Decane area bordering Albania, was fiercely contested by the Serbs and Albanians [during the year prior to the NATO takeover of Kosovo]. In September 1998 the Serbian media centre in Pristina claimed that the bodies of 34 people had been found in a canal there. They were a mixture of Serbian farmers, some gypsies and Albanians suspected of being collaborators. The local commander at the time was Haradinaj, now head of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo." ('Sunday Times', London September 3, 2000, our emphasis)
How did Ramush Hajredinaj judge whether an Albanian or 'Gypsy' was a 'collaborator'? Did it mean he or she was in the police or army? No, all that was required was to have good relations with Serbian neighbors, or speak out against the creation of a racially pure state, or work for the government, for example, as a forester. (Footnote 1)
When officials met with Thaci and Hajredinaj in Washington, could it be they did not know who these men were? Frankly, that's unbelievable.
"'Washington knows what we want,' he [Hajredinaj] added with a smile. 'We've been clear from the very beginning'" (For full interview, see Footnote 8)
Clearly Haradinaj and Thaci are cut from the ssame cloth. They are not squabbling because one of them is yearning for multiethnic society. But they are in fact squabbling:.
"Hajredinaj might have damaged his standing by [...a] rash action he undertook on the night of 6-7 July in the village of Streoc, 5km south of Pec. The exact circumstances of his wounding are unclear, but it certainly was not an assassination attempt, as claimed in AAK party press releases. Hajredinaj led a small group, who went in the middle of the night into the family compound of the leader of the Musa clan. The Musas are a powerful clan and have not been on good terms with Hajredinaj for some time. He entered their family compound, armed - which in Albanian code is an insult and an attack - and, although it is unclear who opened fire first, he ended up wounded. Even if his health does not suffer, some may consider his political career to be over as the Albanians now see him as someone who breached the code of honour." ('Jane's Intelligence Review' September 1, 2000)
Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo are part of the Geg culture, also found in Albania. In an interview, Cedda Prlincevic, the former Chief Archivist in Pristina, Kosovo, describes an unusual feature of Geg culture:
"One book has a great hold over Kosovo Albanians. It's called the 'Canon of Leke Dukagjiniis'. It's a 15th century text that spells out codes of behavior. It goes into great detail on how to carry out blood feuds, when and whom it is proper to kill. It lays out the proper methods to use when killing, rules and regulations and so on.
"And this Canon is alive among Albanians today, especially since the fall of communism. This is an intensely tradition-oriented culture. Blood feud is a constant threat for Albanians. Thousands of people in Albania and Kosovo cannot leave their houses because they are being hunted; even a child in the cradle might be marked for death as part of a feud. It is for this reason that Kosovo Albanian houses are often built surrounded by high walls and with gun slits instead of windows.." (From "Why Albanians Fled Kosovo During the NATO Bombing", at http://emperors-clothes.com/interviews/keysa.htm)
When 'Jane's Defense' reports that Haradinaj insulted a powerful clan leader, this was a most serious matter. The insult may have been answered on July 11, 2000 when Sadri Ahmet Sheraj, Haradinaj's wartime aide, was having a meal in Decani:
"UNMIK police said Sheraj, 46, was killed Tuesday afternoon in a restaurant in Decani by a gunman firing an AK47. UNMIK said the gunman was recognised by people at the scene.
"The killing was believed to be a follow-up to an incident in the home area of Haradinaj, a former guerrilla fighter turned politician. Haradinaj was injured in a grenade attack last Friday in a village near Decani." ('Deutsche Presse-Agentur' July 12, 2000, )
But while Thaci and Haradinaj and their associates may derive their rules of behavior from a medieval Canon, they are fighting over modern prizes - such as the "control of certain petrol stations." ('Daily Telegraph', June 12, 2000)
In other words, they are gangsters.
'Jane's Defense Review' writes:
"[Thaci's] PDK has good links with Albanian exile groups in America, Switzerland and Germany, although the bulk of Thaci's funding is now believed to come from racketeering and other crime-generated sources." ('Jane's Intelligence Review' September 1, 2000, my emphasis)
How blase 'Jane's' is - as if it were reporting on networking among Business School grads. Gangsterism has become no big deal in Kosovo.
So is Kosovo simply being run by the Mob?
No, Kosovo is not simply being run by the Mob.
Quoting a secret UN report prepared secretly for Secretary General Kofi Annan, the 'London Observer' noted:
"The KPC stands accused in the document, drawn up on 29 February, of 'criminal activities - killings, ill-treatment/torture, illegal policing, abuse of authority, intimidation, breaches of political neutrality and hate-speech'."
"...Under the heading 'Activities against minorities, including hate speech', [KPC leader, former KLA boss Agim] Ceku is criticized for being present at a walk-out staged by Albanian members of the KPC when a speech was translated into Serbo-Croat - the language of the Muslim Slav minority suspected by the Albanians of collaboration with the Serbs.
"The report comments: 'It was the clear opinion of those present that this was a premeditated action..'" ('London Observer' my emphasis)
Intimidation, expulsion of minorities and hate speech - a culture dominated by patriarchal clans - enthusiastic visits by British Trotskyist Vanessa Redgrave and photo-ops for feminist star Hilary Clinton - thousands of teenagers are forced into prostitution - and in the midst of all this, gangland killings. What a mix.
The UN has crossed Al Capone, the Ku Klux Klan and Ms Magazine. The offspring is Weird Fascism.
Poor Kosovo, what
else will you suffer?