This page originates from:
The articles collected by: Mr. Benjamin Crocker Works, Director
SIRIUS: The Strategic Issues Research Institute
The original page is at: Sirius Kosovo Archive ***
Archive: The Racak Killings, A Massacre?
Archive Updated: March 14, 1999
NOTE: This archive, intended for research purposes, contains copyrighted
material, included "for fair use only."
- AP-NY Times, Jan. 16, 1999; Serbs Said to Kill 15 Kosovo Rebels; Monitor
- Reuters, Jan. 16, 1999; FOCUS-At least 22 Kosovo Albanians found dead
- AP, Jan. 16, 1999; Trail of Bodies Tells Kosovo Tale
- Don North; Irony at Racak: AP, Dec. 5, 1989 & Wash Post 1993;
Walker on a Massacre of Jesuits,
- Itar-Tass Jan, 16-1999; Milutinovic Blasts Osce Mission Head Over Kosovo.
- Reuters, Jan. 17, 1999; Prosecutor starts Kosovo killings mission Monday
- Reuters, Jan. 17, 1999; FOCUS-Firing as Serbs enter massacre village
- AP, Jan. 17, 1999; Serb Forces Fire on Kosovo Village
- The Times (of London) Jan. 17, 1999, Horror on the hillside in Kosovo
- AP, Jan. 18, 1999; Serb Forces Attack Albanian Village
- Reuters, Jan. 18, 1999; Kosovo monitors shock police to let refugees flee
- Reuters, Jan. 18, 1999, Yugoslavia orders out chief Kosovo monitor
- Reuters, Jan. 19, 1999; ``Spies'' become targets as Kosovo truce unravels
- Jan. 18, 1999; Official Serb Police Report on Racak Incident (Ministry of
- The Times, Jan. 20, 1999; Serbian police chief dies in fight at village
- AFP, Jan. 21, 1999; KLA responsible for shooting at truce monitors: OSCE
- The Times, Jan. 20, 1999; Proof May Exist to Blame Serbs for Atrocity
- B-92 Radio, Belgrade, Jan. 21, 1999; German Minister Fischer Defines Seven
- Le Figaro, Jan. 20, 1999; Rene Girard; Kosovo, Obscure Areas of a
- Le Monde, Jan. 21, 1999; C Chatellot; Were the Racak dead really
- The Times, Jan. 22, 1999; Observers deny Racak massacre was fabricated
- AFP Jan. 22, 1999; OSCE chairman supports Walker, but calls for
- BBC Jan 27, 1999; Finnish Forensic Expert's Progress report
- AP Jan 27, 1999; Finnish Forensic Expert: Possible Tampering With Racak
- Wash. Post, Jan. 28, 1999; RJ Smith; Taps Reveal Coverup of Kosovo
- Newsweek; Feb. 1, 1999; "Improvisational Peace," William Walker on the
- Human Rights Watch, Jan 29, 1999; Report on Racak Massacre
- NY Times; Feb. 10, 1999; Uncertainty About Delegates Clouds Kosovo Talks
- De Welt (Vienna), Mar. 8, 1999, Racak Autopsy report "buried"
- Reuters, Mar. 9, 1999; Finns, Germany to Release Racak Report on March 17.
- B 92 Radio, Mar. 10, 1999; Prosecutor releases preliminary Forensics
- Berliner Zeitung, Mar. 13, 1999; D Johnstone on collapse of Racak Massacre
The articles in this archive explore the allegations of a police massacre of
"innocent Albanian civilians" at Racak village, alleged by OSCE chief William
Walker, to have occurred on Jan. 15, 1999. On the same day, a British OSCE
observer and his Serb driver-translator were wounded by KLA gunmen attempting to
shoot up a police convoy escorted by the two.
The selections begin with the initial wire reports of the police action on
Jan. 15, then to Mr. Walker's allegation of the "massacre," made during his
after-the-fact visit the next morning. Note that OSCE observers and TV-news
reporters were at the site of the police operation from the early moments of the
Friday, January 15th fight. It is clear the police decided to enter
the town to arrest suspects in the murder of other cops nearby in preceding
days. As the police entered the fortified village, the KLA initiated the
gunfire. The fighting ended in late afternoon as police withdrew from the
village for the night. Hundreds of villagers safely evacuated Racak during the
But the KLA had control of the area where most of the bodies were found
through the night of the 15th and morning of the 16th.
They escorted William Walker and the media to a site where 22 bodies lay giving
the appearance of a mass execution. Walker wanted leverage against the police,
but has his own prior record of involvement in massacres in Latin America.
Article 4 below documents Mr. Walker's prior experience of the cover-up of a
notorious massacre in El Salvador in 1990.
By Jan. 20, The Times of London got tips about US-OSCE-NATO wiretapping
indicating deliberation in the "massacre" while French reporters, carefully
reviewing the videotape were contesting key elements of Mr. Walker's charges.
The French reporters' reviews of the videotape are critical elements of this
story and should be read carefully. These reports confirm that AP television
crews and OSCE observers were invited to the show by the Serb Police authorities
before the fact, confirm the village was heavily fortified and confirm that the
villagers began the shooting.
"Going In Heavy." All that phrase, common to US commanders as well,
means to the infantry is bring the heavy weapons and expect a fight. At Waco,
TX, in 1993, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms police "went in heavy looking to
make their quota for firearms confiscations; on April 19, the FBI went in very
heavy, killing all but a handful of the Branch Davidians."
The US and EU needed the appearance of a massacre in order to coerce a
resolution. So, in the pro-Walker spin fed to the NY Times, Times of London and
Washington Post stories, there is an attempt to commingle strategic-level
telephone wire taps (the NSA ECHELON system) before and after the event, with
tactical-level "eavesdropping" of police radio traffic and on-site conversations
by OSCE monitors on site at Racak. The allegation that a massacre was ordered at
the highest level before the fact does not stand up to inspection, and the
allegation of conspiracy at the highest levels after the incident is an attempt
to misrepresent government spin control with a more malignant conspiracy. In
short, the US allegation of a planned massacre has even less validity than its
evidence that a Khartoum, Sudan pharmaceutical factory was concocting chemical
or biological weapons for Osama bin Laden, after the Tomahawk strikes on
Afghanistan and Khartoum in August 1998.
There are then reports of the ongoing forensic investigation by Finnish,
Belorus and Yugoslav experts. I have also, in the spirit of fairness, included
Walker's own explanation, published in Newsweek, and the Human Rights Watch
report asserting a war crime took place.
The conclusion, released March 10 by the Serbian State Public Prosecutor, Ms.
Dragisa Krsmanovic and reported by Radio B 92 in Belgrade (a dissident station),
largely discredits the possibility of a deliberate massacre of innocent
PRISTINA, Wednesday -- Serbian Public Prosecutor Dragisa Krsmanovic told
media today that forensic experts had determined that UCK members killed in
Racak on January 15 had not been mutilated. According to Krsmanovic,
investigators had detected nitrates on 37 of the 40 bodies, which demonstrated
that they had been firing guns before they were killed. She added that all
injuries on the bodies had been inflicted by weapons fired from a distance. The
Pristina Prosecutor's Office found that there were no grounds for proceedings
against Serbian police involved in the Racak incident because the police had
acted within the law and their authority in repulsing an attack.
A report on the same incident by a Finnish team of forensic scientists will
be released by team leader, pathologist Helena Ranta, in Pristina next
There may have been "excessive" use of force at some point during the Racak
operation, but clearly at least 15 KLA gunmen were reported to have been killed
in the battle in front of neutral observers. Some fleeing KLA fighters still in
their civilian clothes may indeed have been killed by "enfilading" gunfire in
the gully where 22 bodies were found clustered the following morning, but the
French analysis of the AP videotape (articles 19 & 20) appears to be
correct. Fights in fortified villages such as these are a cross between
Stalingrad and Vietnam, posing very dangerous conditions for an attacking force.
Make your own forensic examination of the evidence included here and then decide
1. Serbs Said to Kill 15 Kosovo Rebels; Monitor Wounded
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PRISTINA, Serbia -- Serb forces unleashed an assault on Albanian rebels in
southern Kosovo on Friday, reportedly killing at least 15 separatists. In the
western part of the province a British cease-fire monitor and his translator
were shot in the first attack that has wounded an international observer.
The violence in southern and western Kosovo dashed hopes that tensions there
would ease after the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army had released eight Yugoslav
The attack on the monitor is sure to raise questions about the monitors' role
in Kosovo, where up to 2,000 people have been killed since President Slobodan
Milosevic of Yugoslavia began an offensive against separatists last February.
Britain, France and the United States all voiced concern and anger that two
members of the Kosovo Verification Mission had been shot. The State Department
spokesman, James P. Rubin, called the situation unacceptable.
"Both parties, the Kosovo Albanian side and the Serbian Government, are
responsible for the security of these monitors," Rubin said in Washington.
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook of Britain said he was shocked and concerned to
hear of the shootings. He said the work of the verification mission "benefits
both sides in Kosovo, and I absolutely condemn any violence directed toward
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which runs the
monitoring mission, said its employees were in a convoy of three vehicles near
Decani in western Kosovo when unidentified gunmen "deliberately targeted" them.
The victims were taken to a hospital here. The Serb translator was released.
The Briton was taken to Skopje in Macedonia for treatment after having been shot
in the shoulder. A spokesman for the organization, Mons Nyberg, declined to
release further details.
Kosovo is a province of Serbia, the main republic in Yugoslavia. At least 90
percent of the residents are ethnic Albanian, and most favor independence.
International officials said they could not confirm the Serb report of 15
guerrilla deaths. But they protested the crackdown by Yugoslav forces, who used
tanks and heavy weapons in a display of force that sent villagers fleeing to
The attack around Stimlje, 15 miles south of Pristina, capital of Kosovo,
began this morning. International monitors said Government forces had shelled
and fired automatic weapons on three villages. Reporters who reached the area
saw three tanks on hills overlooking the villages, with at least one firing
The Serb Media Center, whose reports of casualties have proven reliable, said
at least 15 fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army had been killed in Racak and
nearby Petrovo. Citing police officials, the center said the police had
confiscated large quantities of arms and drove off the rebels.
Serb forces said they were seeking rebels who had killed a police officer and
attacked a patrol last weekend, the Serb center said. Authorities said the same
group had been responsible for killing seven pro-Government ethnic Albanians in
If confirmed, the toll would be the second-highest in a clash since an
American-brokered cease-fire in October.
Thirty-six rebels were reported killed last month by Yugoslav Army border
guards who intercepted them as they smuggled arms from Albania.
The ethnic Albanians' Kosovo Information Center reported an initial toll of
seven. International monitors said Serb police had blocked them as they tried to
reach the area.
In Sarajevo, Bosnia, the supreme NATO military commander, Gen. Wesley K.
Clark, expressed concern that the violence was affecting chances for peace.
"The longer the use of force goes on inside Kosovo," General Clark said, "the
more intractable the problem is likely to become."
Saturday, January 16, 1999
Copyright 1999 The New York Times
2. FOCUS-At least 22 Kosovo Albanians found dead
By Shaban Buza
BEBUS HILL, Serbia, Jan 16 (Reuters) - The bodies of at least 22 ethnic
Albanians, most shot through the head or neck, were found in southern Kosovo on
The victims, all men between the ages of 18 and 65, were laid out in a ditch.
They were not in uniform.
A local ethnic Albanian whose father and two brothers were among the dead
told Reuters at the scene that they had been arrested by police with other men
from Racak village, about 25 km (16 miles) south of the Kosovo regional capital
Pristina, on Thursday night.
There was no immediate comment from the Serbian authorities.
Police and army units who had been deployed in the area on Friday and had
been involved in a sustained exchange of fire with ethnic Albanian guerrillas
were nowhere to be seen. A police helicopter hovered overhead.
Sami Syla, 41, told Reuters his 65-year-old father and brothers, aged 30 and
36, were among the bodies laid out in the dry bed of a stream on Bebus Hill,
``They were taken from their homes, arrested and told they would be taken to
Urosevac (a nearby town),'' said Syla. ``But later they were brought to the hill
and executed,'' he said.
Two women and a young man who had three brothers among the dead were crying
over the remains, while guerrillas stood by.
International monitors were at the site and one relayed information about the
bodies over a radio. ``It looks like they were shot trying to escape,'' he said.
They then moved off to investigate other sites where local ethnic Albanians
said there were more bodies. Syla said there were more than 40 in all, but it
was not possible to confirm that immediately.
Last autumn, villagers accused Serb police of massacring two groups of ethnic
Albanians whose discovery prompted NATO to threaten air strikes against Serbia.
Belgrade said the killings had been staged by ethnic Albanians to goad NATO into
The Serb-run Media Centre in the Kosovo capital Pristina quoted police on
Friday as saying at least 15 ethnic Albanian guerrillas had been killed in
fighting near Racak which was witnessed earlier in the day by a Reuters
The leading Kosovo Albanian daily, Koha Ditore, on Saturday published a
denial of the Media Centre report from sources close to the guerrillas, who call
themselves the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
They quoted a local KLA commander in the region as saying one guerrilla had
been killed and three wounded, and that there could be civilian casualties. He
also said the guerrillas had destroyed an armoured personnel carrier with police
The Media Centre had no word on police casualties from Friday's fighting in
Racak and the neighbouring hamlet of Petrovo.
A spokesman for the international monitoring mission said one of its senior
members had managed to stop the firing on Friday afternoon. He had no word on
3. Trail of Bodies Tells Kosovo Tale
By MELISSA EDDY .c The Associated Press
RACAK, Yugoslavia (AP) -- A decapitated grandfather lying in the yard outside
his barn. A trail of contorted, mutilated bodies leading up the hillside. An
18-year-old woman shot in the back.
Each step Saturday morning through this Kosovo village of 1,400 revealed
another horror of the previous day's storming by Serbian police -- burned
houses, broken windows, shattered lives.
Raim, a resident of the southern village of Racak and a member of the rebel
Kosovo Liberation Army, said he was in the woods outside the village when Serb
police and Yugoslav army soldiers arrived early Friday.
``Half the people they arrested, the rest you can see here,'' said Raim, who
refused to give his last name. He motioned to a pile of 15 bodies, heaped in a
ravine. Among them were his father and brother.
Eight more bodies were scattered in a ravine cut into the hill. They lay
frozen in death, arms outstretched and faces contorted in fear. Red bullet
wounds ringed in yellow scarred some of their necks, others had more gruesome
head wounds -- bloody gouged eyes, smashed foreheads.
Keys, empty wallets, a crushed pack of cigarettes lay on the ground beside
them, as if torn from their pockets. A village man surveying the bodies replaced
the traditional white cap that had fallen from one old man's head.
From the village below, the wailing of women echoed through the valley as
mothers, sisters, wives learned about loved ones who were killed.
In Racak's main street, the Mehmeti family wrapped and carried the body of
18-year-old Haijumshahe back to her house. She was trying to help her father
Bajram flee the village when both were shot in the back and killed.
Her neighbor, Imer Emini, 20, told reporters that Serb police rounded up
about 30 people, mostly men, and ordered them to stand against a wall. Terrified
in the chaos of weapons fire and shelling, some of the villagers started to run
and police opened fire, she said.
In all, international monitors said Serb police killed 45 people in Racak,
including three women and a child.
4. Irony at Racak: Tainted U.S. Diplomat Condemns Massacre
There is an expose on William Walker by Don North, an American journalist who
was in El Salvador at the time. The story of Walker helping to cover up a
massacre was published by The Consortium, a Virginia-based media organization
whose dedicated to restoring honest journalism:
"On Nov. 16, 1989, uniformed soldiers from the notorious Atlacatl Battalion
dragged six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her 15-year-old daughter from
their beds. The soldiers forced the victims to the ground and then executed them
with high-powered rifles at close range, literally blowing their brains out.
The evidence pointed to the Salvadoran army and implicated the high command.
But Walker defended Col. Rene Emilio Ponce, the Salvadoran army chief of staff,
a U.S. favorite. 'Management control problems exist in a situation like this,'
Walker said at a news conference.
On the wider repression of Salvadoran dissidents, Walker stated that 'I'm not
condoning it, but in times like these of great emotion and great anger, things
like this happen'."
-Quotes reported by AP, Dec. 5, 1989
"Anyone can get uniforms. The fact that they [the killers] were dressed in
military uniforms was not proof that they were military." --Washington Post,
March 21, 1993; William Walker to Rep. Joseph Moakley, D-Mass., on Jan. 2, 1990,
in defense of the El Salvador government forces accused of murdering the Jesuit
5. Milutinovic Blasts Osce Mission Head Over Kosovo.
BELGRADE, January 17 (Itar-Tass) - Serbian President Milan Milutinovic on
Sunday lashed out at the head of the OSCE mission in Kosovo, U.S. diplomat
William Walker for protecting Kosovar terrorists.
All state-run television channels stopped their programmes to broadcast
Milutinovic's emergency statement in which he stressed that Walker's assessment
of Friday's police operation in the Kosovo village of Racak
protects terrorists from the Kosovo Liberation Army.
He said that Walker travelled to Racak on Saturday without notifying Yugoslav
and Serbian authorities, thus breaching his mandate.
Moreover, he demanded that he be allowed to act on his own and did not take
investigators and law enforcement people with him to the Stimle community,
He believes that this was done in order to misinform the world public and
accuse Serbian and Yugoslav authorities of violating the ceasefire.
Serbian people have already paid a dear price for all this lie and they will
not allow this again, he said.
6. Prosecutor starts Kosovo killings mission Monday
AMSTERDAM, Jan 17 (Reuters) - United Nations chief war crimes prosecutor
Louise Arbour on Monday will begin investigating the alleged slaughter of 45
ethnic Albanians by Yugoslav security forces, a spokesman said on Sunday.
Arbour, heading a seven person team, expects to arrive in Skopje, the capital
of Yugoslav republic Macedonia, at around noon on Monday.
The team, which includes four investigators, will be met by representatives
of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the 54-nation
International monitors have accused Yugoslav forces of murdering dozens of
villagers in the south of the province, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs
by nine to one.
The OSCE said U.S. diplomatic observers had counted 45 corpses.
The war crimes prosecutor announced on Saturday she would be leading a
mission to Kosovo and was demanding immediate access to the areas. The Yugoslav
government has blocked previous attempts to secure visas that would allow U.N.
investigators into Kosovo.
Yugoslavia disputes the claim by the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for
former Yugoslavia that it has jurisdiction over the province of Kosovo. Pressure
from the U.N. Security Council has so far done nothing to alter that stance.
In a statement on Saturday, Arbour said the massacre fell ``squarely within
the mandate'' of the war crimes tribunal, adding Yugoslavia was required to
``As far as we are concerned, we have rounded the circle. We have said she is
coming, so they can't be surprised,'' spokesman Christian Chartier told Reuters
The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia was
established by the U.N. Security Council in May, 1993 with the brief to bring to
justice those guilty of war crimes in the territory of the former Yugoslavia
To date, it has only issued public indictments linked to the war that
accompanied the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
7. FOCUS-Firing as Serbs enter massacre village
By Philippa Fletcher
RACAK, Serbia, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Mortar and machine-gun fire erupted on
Sunday as Serbian police moved into the Kosovo village where 45 ethnic Albanian
civilians were massacred two days earlier.
Reporters and international monitors withdrew as Serbian police armoured
vehicles moved into the village of Racak, where dozens of corpses were laid out,
covered with towels, in a mosque.
The firing continued sporadically for more than half an hour. It was
condemned by the deputy head of the international monitoring team in Kosovo,
British army Major-General John Drewienkiewicz.
``I consider this to be a very provocative act by the Yugoslav authorities,
which have again broken the ceasefire,'' he told reporters. There was no word on
Sporadic outburst of mostly small arms, but also some mortar fire, could
still be heard coming from both sides of the village after Drewienkiewicz left
the scene. It was not immediately clear who was firing.
Six more police armoured vehicles were seen heading towards Racak later in
International monitors in Kosovo on Saturday counted the bodies of 45
massacre victims in and around Racak, most of them shot at close range. They
included three women and a child.
President Bill Clinton blamed Serb security forces for the killings. ``This
was a deliberate and indiscriminate act of murder designed to sow fear among the
people of Kosovo. It is a clear violation of the commitments the Serbian
authorities have made to NATO,'' he said.
Reporters who visited Racak before the firing broke out on Sunday saw
relatives entering the mosque to mourn the victims.
Most people had fled the village but 16 women and children were sheltering in
a house. They, too, said they would leave because they feared new fighting.
As armoured vehicles approached the village, Reuters reporters saw more than
two dozen police in full combat gear taking up positions nearby. One
international monitor said about 100 policemen were lined up on a hill above
Monitors said ethnic Albanian guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA),
which is fighting for independence from Serbia, were keeping a low profile in
the woods above Racak.
Serbian authorities said they would launch an investigation into the deaths.
A Serbian police statement issued on Saturday said police had come under a
strong attack from the KLA and repelled it, killing several dozen
``terrorists,'' during an operation to search for the murderers of a policeman.
Danica Marinkovic, the judge investigating the killings, said on Sunday she
had been unable to reach the site. ``For the third time I tried to make an
inquiry but I was stopped by the terrorists,'' she said, referring to the KLA
``They fired directly at me so I withdrew,'' she told reporters at the police
station in Stimlje. International monitors expressed doubt, saying they had not
seen Marinkovic approach the village on the only road leading to it.
Friday's killings marked the latest atrocity in an ethnic conflict that saw
some 2,000 people killed and a quarter of a million made homeless last year.
Independence-minded ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs by nine to one in Kosovo, a
southern province of Serbia.
8. Serb Forces Fire on Kosovo Village
By MELISSA EDDY .c The Associated Press
RACAK, Yugoslavia (AP) -- Fighting erupted Sunday near this southern Kosovo
village where 45 ethnic Albanians were massacred, sending terrified civilians
and international monitors fleeing to safety.
The renewed fighting flared as ambassadors of the 16 NATO members were
preparing to meet in Brussels, Belgium, later Sunday to consider a response to
the massacre of the ethnic Albanians, whose mutilated bodies were discovered
Saturday in a gully.
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana warned the alliance ``will not tolerate
a return to all-out fighting and a policy of repression in Kosovo.''
Serb sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said fighting began Sunday
when Serb forensic experts tried to enter Racak to investigate the massacre but
came under fire from ethnic Albanian rebels.
British Gen. John Drewienkiewicz, deputy chief of the international peace
verifiers, said the forensic experts insisted on entering the village under Serb
police escort, despite the monitors' objections and assurances they would
Ethnic Albanian rebels told verifiers they would allow the forensic experts
into the village, but not the police. As the verifiers were negotiating with the
Serbs, automatic gun and mortar fire broke out, sending civilians, verifiers and
journalists scurrying for safety.
``I consider this to be a very provocative action by Yugoslav authorities,''
Drewienkiewicz said. ``I believe it has again broken the cease-fire.''
Sunday's clashes added new urgency to international efforts to contain the
crisis and prevent a complete collapse of the Oct. 12 peace accord which
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic accepted to end seven months of fighting
in Kosovo, a province of the main Yugoslav republic of Serbia.
The province's moderate ethnic Albanian leader, Ibrahim Rugova, declared
Sunday a day of mourning throughout Kosovo. And the chief prosecutor of the U.N.
war crimes tribunal, Louise Arbour, planned to leave Monday for Kosovo to
investigate the massacre, regardless of whether Yugoslav authorities grant
In neighboring Albania, former President Sali Berisha called on Albanians to
prepare for a ``life-or-death war'' for the survival of the Albanian people.
Early Sunday, the bodies of 40 of the victims were brought to the village
mosque here, where they were laid out under plastic sheets. Family members
sobbed and wailed ``my brother,'' ``my father'' and ``oh, God.''
The fighting broke out before the bodies could be buried.
In Belgrade, Serb President Milan Milutonovic repeated police claims that the
ethnic Albanians were rebels killed in combat, although the dead included
three women, a 12-year-old boy and old men -- all in civilian clothes. Many
were shot at close range and some of the bodies were mutilated, and eyes were
gouged out. One man lay decapitated in the courtyard of his compound.
Milutonovic accused the American head of the international monitoring
mission, William Walker, of making ``false and personal assessments which are
Walker had blamed government forces for the massacre, which he called a
``crime very much against humanity.''
International monitors and journalists came across the carnage Saturday
morning in Racak, 15 miles south of the provincial capital, Pristina, after
having been barred from the site by Serbian police the previous day.
The rebel Kosovo Liberation Army said the death toll from the massacre was
51, including nine of its fighters and a 3-month-old baby. The report could not
be confirmed. Monitors put the death toll at 45.
Residents of Racak said Serb forces had rounded up the men, driven them up
the hill and shot them. Twenty-eight bodies lay heaped together at the bottom of
a muddy hillside gully.
9. Horror on the hillside in Kosovo
The Times of London, January 17, 1999
by Juliet Terzieff in Racak
THE victims lay scattered on a hillside and in ravines near the village of
Racak in southern Kosovo, their injuries a testament to the cruelty of their
Some had had their eyes gouged out, or their heads smashed in. One man lay
the courtyard of his compound. The body of another had a bullet wound in the
neck. Another still had lost an ear, which had apparently been sliced off.
As international monitors counted the bodies of 45 ethnic Albanians yesterday
following the bloodiest incident since a ceasefire was declared last October, it
emerged that those killed ranged in age from 12 to 74 and included three women.
All were in civilian clothes.
Villagers said armed Serbs wearing black masks had burst into their houses on
Friday, seized the men from their families and led them toward the police
station. Then they had turned and herded them up the hill to kill them, the
Some people were found dead in their houses, where there was no sign of any
armed resistance. An international observer struggling to take in what he saw
whispered simply: "Oh, my God."
Serbian forces had launched a fierce assault on ethnic Albanian villages a
day earlier, but reporters and international verifiers had been prevented from
reaching the area around Racak. Yesterday what had happened while the eyes of
the world were turned away became clear. "It is hard to find words to say
about this," said William Walker, the head of the international verification
mission to Kosovo, when he visited the site yesterday. Walker was pale and
visibly shaken. "I see bodies like this with their faces blown away at close
range, in execution fashion. It is obvious people with no value for human life
have done this."
The victims appeared to be "farmers, workers, villagers", Walker said, rather
than members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighting to win independence
from Serbia for the war-torn province.
The Serbian police claimed last night that the victims had been killed in a
shootout after the
villagers opened fire on Serbian forces. Raim, an ethnic Albanian, said he
was told Serbian police had barged into his family compound and attacked and
killed his father and two brothers.
"Yesterday early in the morning, police came with very heavy machineguns
together with the army," he said. "They entered the village with infantry. Half
of the people they arrested and beat up. The rest you can see here." He pointed
to a heap of bodies.
"We don't know what we are going to do," he said, sitting on a tree stump
with his head in his hands. On his knees he held a rifle with "UCK" - the
Albanian-language acronym for KLA - burnt into the wooden butt.
Sami Syla, 41, said his 65-year-old father and two brothers, 30 and 36, were
among those laid out dead in the dry bed of a stream on Bebus Hill, overlooking
Racak. "They were taken from their homes, arrested and told they would be taken
to Urosevac [a nearby town]," said Syla. "But later they were brought to the
hill and executed."
The verifiers counted bodies as the wailing of women reverberated around
them. "Body number one, purple jacket, injury to right cheek," an observer
dictated into a tape recorder as he knelt over one dead man.
The observers were still reeling from the shooting of one of their own the
previous day. A British verifier, Mark Freely, and his local translator were
shot and wounded when unidentified gunmen fired on their three-vehicle convoy
near the western town of Decani.
The killing spree may be the death knell of the October 12 truce brokered by
Richard Holbrooke, the American envoy, which had largely halted more than seven
months of combat in the province where a quarter of a million people were driven
from their homes in fighting last year. Last month army border
guards killed 36 KLA fighters as they tried to smuggle weapons from Albania.
In a revenge killing, six Serbian men were massacred the same day in a bar in
the town of Pec.
The ceasefire, which international officials have insisted is still largely
intact, is in danger of collapse, raising the prospect of a resumption of the
province-wide fighting that devastated Kosovo last year.
Yesterday's grisly discovery cast serious doubt on the unarmed verifiers'
mission. They have become a vital force for stability in the region, but the
latest violence makes a pullout more likely.
10. Serb Forces Attack Albanian Village
By MELISSA EDDY .c The Associated Press
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) -- Serb security forces backed by artillery today
pounded the hills surrounding an ethnic Albanian village where dozens were
massacred, ignoring NATO demands for an end to the onslaught.
Yugoslav border guards, meanwhile, refused today to allow the chief U.N. war
crimes prosecutor to enter the country from Macedonia to probe the weekend
Serb and ethnic Albanian sources in Kosovo today reported heavy mortar and
machine gun fire near the village of Racak, where the bodies of 45 ethnic
Albanians were found Saturday.
The BBC reported without elaborating that Serb forces near Racak were being
backed today by Yugoslav army tanks.
Although people in the area said the morning gunfire had died down by midday,
the clashes near Racak raised fears that the fragile U.S.-brokered cease-fire in
Kosovo was near collapse.
Louise Arbour, the chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor, flew today to the
Macedonian capital of Skopje and drove to the border accompanied by officials of
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
However, immigration officials on the Yugoslav side told the party they would
not be allowed to enter.
One OSCE official was overheard insisting they be allowed to proceed because
Arbour had a mandate from the U.N. Security Council to investigate alleged
The guard firmly but politely refused the group permission to enter the
country. Arbour and the others returned to the Macedonian side where they were
waiting, persumably to see if the Yugoslavs could be convinced to reverse their
NATO met Sunday to demand that Serb-led government forces stop their assault
against ethnic Albanian rebels and that Yugoslavia allow the U.N. war crimes
tribunal to investigate the killings in Racak.
Gen. Wesley Clark, the alliance's commander for Europe, and Gen. Klaus
Naumann are due to arrive today in Belgrade to warn Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic to honor a cease-fire agreed to in October under threat of NATO
NATO's Secretary-General Javier Solana on Sunday condemned the massacre in
Racak and said Milosevic is ``personally responsible for the behavior of his
Serb police announced early today they would move into the Racak area to
conduct a ``search'' for Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas, said Col. Mike
Philips, an assistant to U.S. diplomat William Walker, who heads an
international force verifying the cease-fire.
A police ``search'' for KLA fighters usually means a sweep of the area.
Fighting also was reported Sunday in Racak when Serb forensic experts tried
to enter the village with police escort, despite international monitors warning
it would provoke clashes.
Mutilated bodies were found Saturday in a gully outside Racak, 15 miles south
of the provincial capital, Pristina. Serb officials said the victims were KLA
guerrillas killed in combat, although they included three women and a
Solana made no specific threats and set no deadlines Sunday while speaking
for the 16 NATO ambassadors who make up the policy-making North Atlantic
Council. He noted, however, that an ``activation order'' -- which put more than
400 allied aircraft on alert for possible strikes against Yugoslavia -- remained
NATO threatened airstrikes last year to pressure Milosevic to call off his
offensive against ethnic Albanian rebels fighting for independence for Kosovo, a
province of Yugoslavia's main republic, Serbia. Ethnic Albanians form about 90
percent of Kosovo's 2 million people, and many want independence.
Following intensive negotiations with U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke, Milosevic
agreed Oct. 12 to halt the seven-month offensive and begin talks with the ethnic
Albanians on Kosovo's future.
Both sides, however, have rejected U.S. proposals for expanded self-rule for
In Vienna, Austria, the U.S. ambassador to the OSCE expressed outrage today
not only at the massacre of ethnic Albanians but at Yugoslav authorities'
``scandalous attempt to present the cold-blooded slaughter and mutilation of
civilians as a military operation against terrorists.''
David Johnson made the statement during an urgent meeting of the OSCE's
In Washington, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin condemned Sunday's
violence in Racak and called Serb moves ``a provocation.''
Former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole expressed frustration
``I think it's time the United States and United Nations and NATO stopped
expressing grave concern and do something to stop Milosevic before he kills more
innocent people. ... I would hope there would be NATO airstrikes at least,''
Dole said today on ABC's ``Good Morning America.''
11. Kosovo monitors shock police to let refugees flee
By Julijana Mojsilovic
NEAR STIMLJE, Serbia, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Ten women, two men and two boys sat
on a tractor-trailer, nervously waiting for a policeman to decide on their fate.
A dozen international monitors were standing around the vehicle. Several
reporters were nearby. Only yards away, about 30 policemen, some from the
traffic force, some in blue camouflage, were standing on the road, carefully
The refugees were fleeing Malo Polje, one of four villages in tense
southwestern Kosovo the monitors said had been attacked by Yugoslav security
forces on Monday.
The Serbian policeman said the refugees should have their identity cards on
them. One of the monitors explained they had fled fighting and had left their
IDs at home.
``Why should they leave?'' said the policeman. ``They have nothing to fear.''
The American monitor looked him in the eye and snapped back:
``They are afraid because all their men have been killed.'' The policeman's
face fell. ``We would have let them go anyway, you didn't have to do it this
way,'' the policeman said.
``Mister, your job is to monitor and verify, not to escort people,'' he
added, echoing accusations from the Yugoslav authorities that international
observers in Kosovo, deployed in October to verify a truce, were overstepping
Shortly after the verifiers escorted the 14 refugees towards the nearby town
of Urosevac, their boss, William Walker, head of the Kosovo Verification Mission
(KVM), was ordered by the authorities to leave Yugoslavia within 48 hours.
The government wanted him out of the country because he had accused the Serb
police of massacring at least 40 ethnic Albanians in the nearby village of Racak
Villagers said the victims, mostly men, had been rounded up by police and
executed. They appeared to have been shot dead at close range.
Police said they had been killed after attacking them. The massacre, they
said, had been staged subsequently by ethnic Albanians seeking to focus
international attention on their demands for independence.
12. Yugoslavia orders out chief Kosovo monitor
BELGRADE, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The Yugoslav government on Monday ordered the
American head of international monitors in Serbia's troubled Kosovo province to
leave the country within 48 hours.
In a statement carried by Serbian radio, the government said that after
reviewing the activities of William Walker, it had declared him persona non
Walker, a veteran U.S. diplomat who heads the Kosovo Verification Mission
(KVM) set up to monitor a ceasefire in Kosovo negotiated last October, blamed
Yugoslav security forces for the slaughter of 45 ethnic Albanians in the village
of Racak on Sunday.
Some 800 unarmed monitors organised by the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are deployed throughout Kosovo, well short of the
2,000 originally envisaged in the truce agreement.
``His activities go far beyond the limits of the mandate of the OSCE mission
chief that was defined by the agreement on the OSCE mission he is heading,'' the
radio said, quoting the government.
The statement said the truce between the Serbian authorities and separatist
ethnic Albanian guerrillas brokered by U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke last
October ``stipulates that the obligations set by the Vienna convention on
diplomatic relations from 1961 must be respected.''
Saying the verification mission had diplomatic status under the Vienna
convention, the Yugoslav government ``has decided to proclaim William Walker
persona non grata, which means that he is obliged to leave the territory of the
FRY within 48 hours,'' the radio announced.
Walker, a career diplomat for 37 years whose last post was heading the U.N.'s
transitional administration in Croatia's Eastern Slavonia province, said he was
shocked by the decision to expel him.
``Nobody has informed me yet officially that I have been declared persona non
grata. They could have had the decency to inform me personally about this,'' the
independent B-92 radio quoted Walker as saying, translated into Serbian.
``In a way, I am shocked. Whatever they think I said, I was speaking for the
international community, which is informing the world about what is going on
here. This, if I am not mistaken, is what the verifiers' mission is all about,''
``I believe that what these people are objecting to is what I and 50 to 60
other people saw, and what I announced - that what had happened in the village
of Racak was a massacre,'' Walker said.
13. ``Spies'' become targets as Kosovo truce unravels
By Philippa Fletcher
PRISTINA, Serbia, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Five days before Yugoslavia decided to
expel him, the American head of the international monitors in Kosovo jokingly
admitted he was a spy.
William Walker, ordered on Monday to leave Yugoslavia by Wednesday afternoon
before winning an extra day's reprieve, was quite open about his role as head of
the monitors, deployed in the Serbian province by the 54-nation Organisation for
Security and Cooperation in Europe.
``I can announce before you right now that I am a spy,'' Walker told a news
conference last week. ``But I am a spy for the OSCE...I and all my little
verifiers are spies as well, trying to establish what is happening on the
Walker's light-hearted remark was meant to rebuff Serb charges, fuelled by
anti-American state media, that he was a CIA agent bent on carving up Yugoslavia
as part of an imperialist plan.
As soon become clear, such verbal attacks were the least of his worries.
Two days after that news conference, held to celebrate the monitors' success
in mediating the release of eight Yugoslav army officers captured by their
separatist ethnic Albanian foes, two of Walker's team were shot and wounded.
It was the moment they had all dreaded since they were deployed as unarmed
``verifiers'' to check on compliance with an October ceasefire between Yugoslav
security forces and ethnic Albanian separatist guerrillas in Serbia's Kosovo
The truce was shaky from the start. The verifiers soon found themselves
having to stretch their mandate to keep the peace, while both sides rebuffed a
political settlement the monitors had been supposed to implement.
The two injured members of the verification mission, a Briton and a Serb,
were hit by sustained fire while escorting a police convoy, one of the
controversial roles they took on to try to stop clashes between the police and
Left to their own devices, the monitors, spread out across the tiny Serbian
province, carved out their own role. From patrolling the main roads, they
started going into small villages, getting to know the locals and trying to
convince them that Serbs and ethnic Albanians can live side by side.
They have coordinated the distribution of humanitarian aid, investigated
human rights abuses and persuaded refugees to return to their homes.
Just over a week ago, they scored their biggest high-risk success. On foot
and unarmed, monitors walked Yugoslav tanks back from the brink of a clash with
the guerrillas over the capture of the Yugoslav troops, giving Walker and other
top officials time to negotiate their release.
Major-General John Drewienkiewicz, the deputy head of the mission who
persuaded the tanks to withdraw, made no apologies for stepping beyond the role
to which he was originally appointed.
``It's hard to remember that you're here to drain the swamp when you're up to
your ears in alligators,'' he said.
In just a week, triumph turned to despair.
By Saturday, a clearly distraught Walker was in no mood for jokes when he
faced the media again. He had just been shown the bodies of some of 45 ethnic
Albanians he said had evidently been massacred by Serbian police in the village
``As you well know, my verifiers, my people, are unarmed. They cannot go up
against artillery and anti-aircraft weapons and we do what we can. Obviously in
this case we were not enough to prevent this sort of atrocity,'' he said.
``I do appreciate that there is a great deal of frustration here. Many people
expected more from us.''
Belgrade, infuriated by Walker's allegation, dropped all pretence of
observing the truce.
On Sunday police began firing mortars and machine guns towards Racak, forcing
out a group of monitors who had been trying to protect the village and the
massacre evidence there.
The next day the government declared Walker persona non grata.
Then on Tuesday the Yugoslav government gave him an extra 24 hours' reprieve,
but leading politicians continued to press for his expulsion.
``The state has a duty to protect its citizens from Walker, just as it has a
duty to protect them from terrorists,'' said Ivan Markovic of the neo-communist
party JUL, led by president Slobodan Milosevic's wife Mira Markovic.
Some of those on the ground were finding it hard to conceal their bitterness
even before their political bosses began seriously debating whether they should
go or stay.
``I'm very afraid that the hopes we've built up here will be dashed once I've
left,'' said one.
Another senior officer, who had worked in the heavily-armed implementation
force policing the Dayton Peace agreement in Bosnia, said that was a far easier
assignment -- even though 200,000 people had been killed before it was struck,
compared to around 2,000 in Kosovo.
``In Bosnia we had a much more solid agreement,'' he said. ``And we had
14. Subj: OFFICIAL SERB POLICE REPORT ON RACAK INCIDENT (Ministry of
Date: 99-01-20 01:47:09 EST - Received from Father Sava, Decani Monastery
BELGRADE, 18 January 1999
FACTS REGARDING POLICE OPERATIONS OF SEARCH AND ARREST OF A TERRORIST GROUP
IN THE VILLAGE OF RACAK NEAR STIMLJE ON 15 JANUARY 1999
On 15 January 1999, in the early morning, in an attempt to arrest a terrorist
group, police officers blocked the village of Racak, municipality of
In the village of Racak, five days before this arrest operation, the
terrorist group killed police officer Svetislav Przic. This terrorist group
committed many criminal acts of terrorism punishable under Article 125 of the
Penal Code of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, by killing police officers
Sinisa Mihajlovic, Nazmija Aluri and Svetislav Przic, a member of the Urosevac
police reserve, Stimlje police station (they were killed in attacks carried out
on 10 September and 29 October 1998 and on 10 January 1999); Sasa Jankovic and
Ranko Djordjevic, members of the Gnjilane police reserve (killed on 2 August and
12 October 1998), and by killing civilians Miftar Resani (on 31 December 1998)
and Enver Gasi (on 2 January 1999). In the municipalities of Urosevac and
Stimlje, this terrorist group abducted members of the Albanian as well as of the
Romany ethnic group and burned the house of Djemalj Bitici, an Albanian from the
village of Racak (on 18 November 1998).
In the approaches to the village of Racak, the terrorist groups attacked
police officers from trenches, bunkers and fortifications, using automatic
weapons, portable grenade launchers and mortars. In this attack police officer
Goran Vucicevic was wounded while a number of official vehicles of the Interior
Ministry of the Republic of Serbia were damaged. In response to the attack,
police officers used firearms and destroyed the terrorist groups. Several dozen
of terrorists were killed in the fighting, among who the majority were wearing
uniforms with the insignia of the terrorist so called KLA.
On this occasion, police officers confiscated one 12.7mm "Browing" machine
gun, two submachine guns, 36 automatic rifles, two snipers, a large amount of
ammunition and hand grenades, radios and other military equipment.
The OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission was informed of the beginning of the
arrest operation and arrived at the scene of the fighting.
Immediately after the fighting, the police investigating team came to the
scene headed by Investigating Magistrate Danica Marinkovic of the Pristina
District Court and the Deputy Public Prosecutor Ismet Sufta, but the terrorists
who were concentrated in the neighbouring highlands opened fire and prevented
the further on-site investigation.
The next day, on 16 January 1999, the on-site investigation was again
prevented because the OSCE KVM insisted that the Investigating Magistrate carry
out the investigation without the police presence, explaining that the fighting
might be resumed.
In the wake of undertaking this police operation of search and arrest of the
terrorist group because of committed terrorist attacks, murders and abductions
of police officers and citizens in the Urosevac and Stimlje areas, the Head of
OSCE KVM, Mr. William Walker, immediately accused "the Yugoslav security forces"
of the massacre of 45 civilians in the village of Racak, which he has "seen"
himself and gave an ultimatum that investigators of the International Criminal
Tribunal must be allowed to come to Kosovo and Metohija in the following 24
hours. He stated at the press conference that the villagers had guided him to
the site where he saw bodies of twenty killed civilians ("who had obviously been
executed where they lay" and that "none were in other than civilian clothes" and
"looked like humble village inhabitants"). He stated that the KVM counted 36
while the KDOM established there were 45 victims.
Mr. William Walker declared this whole conflict a conflict with the civilian
population disregarding the fact that they were armed, arrested by the police
and engaged in attacks at the police. He also neglected the fact that the police
was attacked, provoked and forced to defend itself using firearms against the
armed terrorist attacks. His statement, given to the Kosovo and Metohija
government officials, who informed him of all the facts, that the world would
believe him rather than the arguments and facts by legal authorities of our
country, was shocking.
At the same time, Mr. William Walker himself, without informing the Yugoslav
authorities, visited the village of Racak and was accompanied by his associates.
In this way he expressed an obvious attempt to monopolize the interpretation of
developments and to approach the establishment of actual facts with prejudice.
He disregarded the fact
that the Yugoslav authorities are sovereign in every part of the State
territory and solely competent to establish the facts, within the framework of
legal proceedings and with the presence of the KVM, and to publicize the truth.
By his behaviour, false and malicious
interpretations, disrespect of the competent Yugoslav authorities and laws,
Mr. Walker violated most flagrantly his verification mandate and the Agreement
with the OSCE.
On 17 January 1999, the Head of the Coordinating Team of the Commission for
Cooperation with the OSCE Verification Mission in Kosovo and Metohija of the
Federal Government, Mr. Dusan Loncar, sent a protest note to the Head of OSCE
Mission in Kosovo and Metohija, Mr. William Walker, because of his behaviour, in
particular because of the prevention on his part of the on-site investigation in
the village of
Racak aimed at the objective finding out the true course of events. The
on-site investigation, which was scheduled for 17 January 1999, in the period
from 8.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m., with the request that Mr. Walker should verify the
on-site investigation, did not begin because of the attack, launched from the
villages of Rance and Petrovo, by Albanian terrorists who used mortars and
machine guns. On this occasion, one of the launched grenades fell near
Magistrate Danica Marinkovic, while grenades launched by the terrorists
directly endangered lives of police officers and the security of the
At the same time, protest was expressed to Mr. Walker because of the
prevention of an on-site investigation by the Magistrate with request that the
verifiers be engaged exclusively in the function of verification of the
investigation and the work of the Magistrate and her security.
During this police action, Mujota Sadik (1943), a terrorist from the village
of Malopoljce, the municipality of Stimlje, as well as his daughter who was an
active member of the terrorist organization, the so called KLA, were killed.
Mujota and his brothers, three sons and a daughter, headed the terrorist group
consisting of a number of persons who participated in many terrorist attacks
against the Interior Ministry officers and members of the Army of Yugoslavia in
the municipality of Stimlje.
Since the agreements signed by the President of the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia, Mr. Slobodan Milosevic, and the US Special Envoy, Mr. Richard
Holbrooke, in the period from 13 October 1998 to 14 January 1999, in the region
of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, the Albanian separatists
carried out a total of 599 terrorist attacks and provocations, of which 186 were
launched against the citizens and 413 against the Interior Ministry officers. In
these attacks 53 persons were killed (37 civilians and 16 police officers), 36
persons sustained serious injuries (13 civilians and 23 police officers), while
76 persons sustained light injuries (38 civilians and 38 police officers). A
total of 43 persons were abducted (39 civilians and 4 police officers) of which
3 were killed (one civilian and two police officers), 17 were released (16
civilians and one police officer), while the fate of 22 civilians and one police
officer is still unknown.
The Times January 20 1999 KOSOVO
15. Serbian police chief dies in fight at village
FROM TOM WALKER IN RACAK
ABOVE the Orthodox Church on the Kastanje hill overlooking Stimlje and Racak,
monitors were staging their usual vigil through binoculars, documenting minute
by minute the village's fate in the mist below. After a particularly heavy bout
of gunfire, a convoy of 20 police vehicles descended from the hill opposite.
Shortly afterwards, a helicopter went in to remove the police casualties. Later,
a release from the Pristina media centre said that a police deputy chief, Miro
Mekic, had been killed and two of his colleagues seriously wounded as they
"guarded the investigation authorities".
The regional prosecuting magistrate, Danica Marinkovic, was said to have
again entered the village, although she refused to talk to journalists. Late on
Monday she was reported to have had the back windows of her Lada Niva shot out
by a Kosovo Liberation Army sniper as the police removed the Albanian bodies
from Racak mosque.
In Pristina itself, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
maintained a discreet silence over the future of the Kosovo mission, should its
Ambassador, William Walker, be forced to leave.Serb sources confirmed that one
irony of Mr Walker's possible expulsion would be its harm to Ms Marinkovic's
income: she and her husband own the building where Mr Walker, dubbed the
"ambassador of lies" by the Serb press,rents a flat at much cost.
The media centre said it was on the point of organising a police press
conference to give the official Serb version of events at Racak. The local
authorities and Belgrade have been given heart by reports of what French
newspapers are said to be publishing today. These reports would throw doubt on
the Albanian accounts of what happened at Racak.
Several French journalists have studied video footage of the police attack on
the village on Friday, and they have concluded that women and children were not
separated from their menfolk, as has been widely reported.
The video footage also shows the police to have been without the masks
reported by the Albanians, and the French journalists also postulate that the
Albanians both shifted many of the bodies of the massacre victims and mutilated
them. "The best proof will come from the autopsies," a Serb official in Pristina
"Unfortunately, the Finnish pathologists cannot join us until Thursday," the
official added. "But, thankfully, we have experts from Belarus observing the
investigations. I hope the truth will come out before the Nato bombing
Thu, 21 Jan 1999 13:56:28 PST
16. KLA responsible for shooting at truce monitors: OSCE
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, Jan 21 (AFP) - Rebels deliberately attacked vehicles
carrying ceasefire monitors in Kosovo last Friday, wounding two people, the
OSCE's mission said Thursday.
In a statement, the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) said the commander of
the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the Decani region, where the incident
occurred, had publicly acknowledged that his men were to blame. He said it was a
"misunderstanding," the statement said.
The KVM was set up by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OCSE) to verify a US-brokered truce in Kosovo that took effect last
The KLA is fighting for the independence of Kosovo, a province of Serbia
where an estimated 90 percent of the inhabitants are ethnic Albanian.
The two injured were a British national and a Serb working as a translator
for the OSCE.
The KVM added that the KLA had been informed that its vehicles -- painted
bright orange -- would be in the area, and that the attack was a "deliberate
attempt on verifiers' lives."
"This would indicate a lack of control on the part of KLA command, as well as
a disregard for the physical wellbeing of KVM members," it said.
"Attacking an internationally protected person is a serious crime. The KVM
expects to be informed of the names of those responsible for this incident, of
their punishment, and of the KLA commitment that such an incident does not
Wednesday, January 20, 1999
17. Proof May Exist to Blame Serbs for Atrocity
Kosovo: Monitors apparently intercepted police radio conversations tied to
killing of more than 40 ethnic Albanians.
By PAUL WATSON, Times Staff Writer
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia--As Belgrade does its best to block an independent probe
into the massacre of more than 40 ethnic Albanian villagers in the separatist
province of Kosovo, foreign monitors are hinting that they have damning evidence
from the killers' own mouths.
Information gleaned from eavesdropping on Serbian police radio conversations
may be the ace up the sleeve of U.S. diplomat William Walker in his high-stakes
confrontation with the Yugoslav government.
On Monday, Belgrade had ordered Walker, who leads an international monitoring
team in Kosovo, to leave the country within 48 hours after he accused Serbian
police of mass murder in the village of Racak, but on Tuesday the Yugoslav
government extended the deadline by 24 hours.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's two top generals kept up the
pressure Tuesday by warning Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to rescind the
expulsion order altogether and restrain his security forces or else brace for
U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO's supreme commander, and German Gen. Klaus
Naumann, the chairman of NATO's military committee, met with Milosevic for
several hours and delivered what Clark called a "very blunt" warning that the
alliance is prepared to attack.
The generals also discussed Belgrade's refusal to allow Louise Arbour, the
Canadian chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia, to enter Kosovo and investigate the massacre allegations.
But after the talks in Belgrade with the generals, there was no immediate
sign that Milosevic is about to back away from the brink, as he did when NATO
first issued its threat of airstrikes last fall.
In Washington, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said the results of
the Belgrade talks were "not encouraging."
Rubin supplied no details but said Clark and Naumann returned to Brussels
after a day of apparently fruitless meetings. He said the generals will report
to NATO ambassadors today and discuss the alliance's next move with them.
The U.N. Security Council late Tuesday condemned the massacre and called for
an immediate investigation into the killings. It also told Belgrade to rescind
its decision to expel Walker.
Serbian police and separatist Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas clashed in
Racak again Tuesday, the Serb-run Media Center said. A local deputy police chief
was killed and two other police officers were wounded, the center said. They
were guarding Yugoslav authorities who are investigating Friday's killings in
Racak, which Walker called an "unspeakable atrocity."
In explaining the massacre, Yugoslav authorities insist that police were
fighting terrorists who had killed a police officer five days earlier, and
Serbian leaders have labeled Walker a guerrilla supporter and protector.
Walker heads the team of more than 700 unarmed monitors that the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe set up last fall to verify a cease-fire
in Kosovo, a Serbian province where 90% of the population is ethnic
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in Washington, demanded Tuesday that
Walker be allowed to resume his duties, and she warned Milosevic that NATO's
"activation order" authorizing force, issued last fall, remains in effect.
"It is essential for Ambassador Walker to be able to do his job," Albright
told reporters after she and other national security officials briefed key
members of Congress.
"The activation order is on the table, it is effective," she said. "And I
think that the main point here is for President Milosevic to get the message
that the actions that have been taken in Kosovo, the atrocities that were
committed, must be investigated by the war crimes tribunal" or another
Albright, who has conferred with a lengthening list of other foreign
ministers, said she has found "unanimous" support for Walker and the monitoring
If Walker is forced to leave Kosovo, his observer mission might go with him,
all but eliminating hope of averting a return to all-out war in Kosovo.
At such a critical moment, neither Walker nor his monitors will say publicly
what he meant when he told reporters that the victims' bodies and eyewitness
accounts weren't his only evidence.
But Walker wouldn't have made such an explosive allegation of mass murder
without proof --beyond the horrific scene of so many corpses or the accounts of
villagers who say they saw what happened, mission spokesman Sandy Blyth
"This is an experienced guy," he said. "He doesn't come out with an open,
clear statement like that unless he is sure of his facts."
In interviews, survivors said the killers gave and received orders over
walkie-talkies as they rounded up victims. Walker's monitors confide they are
able to eavesdrop on police communications.
Although Walker is a career foreign service officer, his resume doesn't
suggest a cocktails-and-canapes diplomat.
His postings include a stint in Honduras from 1980 to 1982, when the Central
American country was Washington's secret conduit for weapons and other support
to right-wing Contras fighting to overthrow the Sandinistas in neighboring
He also served as chief of the U.S. Embassy's political section in El
Salvador, another Central American hot spot, from 1974 to 1977, and later as the
country's U.S. ambassador from 1988 to 1992.
As a diplomat in countries so high on Washington's national security agenda,
Walker couldn't help knowing something about spying, said John Pike, a defense
analyst at Washington's Federation of American Scientists.
"Those are front-line postings where he would have unavoidably developed an
acquaintance with the capabilities and limitations of intelligence sources and
methods," Pike said from Washington.
And it would be surprising if Walker's team of ex-military and other experts
verify Kosovo's cease-fire without equipment to listen in on radio
communications, Pike said. "Put it this way: They would be idiots if they
weren't doing that," he added. "What are they going to do, read about it in the
paper the next day?"
It doesn't take "rocket science" to eavesdrop on basic police walkie-talkies,
or even more advanced military models that encrypt voice transmissions or hop
from frequency to frequency, Pike said.
It could be as simple as listening to a hobby shop radio scanner or as
sophisticated as intercepting radio transmissions with spy planes and
satellites, he added.
That's probably no secret to the Serbian police, who see Walker's monitors
watching them through binoculars or shadowing their convoys every day.
The Serbian police have suspected that foreigners were eavesdropping on them
In early January, police accused the relief agency Doctors Without Borders of
listening in on police radio communications, a charge the organization
Some of Walker's monitors were near Racak when the villagers were killed
Friday, Walker confirmed the next day.
The monitors watched Serbian paramilitary police shelling the village and
firing antiaircraft guns at farmhouses, and they tried to persuade the attackers
to stop, Walker told reporters.
"Did they witness the massacre? No, they did not," Walker said.
But if it turns out that his monitors heard enough of what the police were
saying to use it as evidence against them, the next question is likely to be:
Why didn't they stop the killings?
The next day, when Walker saw the victims' bodies for himself and then held a
news conference to accuse the Serbian police of "a crime against humanity," a
reporter put a similar question to him.
"As you well know, my people are unarmed," Walker replied. "They cannot go up
against artillery and antiaircraft weapons. And we do what we can. Obviously, in
this case, we were not enough to prevent this sort of atrocity."
Times staff writer Norman Kempster in Washington contributed to this
ę Copyright 1999 by the Times of London.
18. B-92 Radio, Belgrade, Jan. 21, 1999; German Minister Fischer Defines
Fischer told Milosevic that the peaceful solution of the Kosovo problem was
necessary in the interest of peace and stability in Europe. He added that Europe
had seven demands of Yugoslavia. These were
the reversal of the decision to expel Walker,
the meeting of commitments to OSCE, NATO and the UN,
unconditional cooperation with the Kosovo Verification Mission,
cooperation with the Hague Tribunal and EU forensic experts over the Racak
killings, guarantees of prosecution of those responsible for the Racak incident,
suspension of police officers on duty in Racak on January 15
constructive support for the efforts of the European Union and the Contact
Group to facilitate internationally assisted negotiations on Kosovo.
19. KOSOVO: OBSCURE AREAS OF A MASSACRE
January 20, 1999
By Rene Girard; Le Figaro
The images filmed during the attack on the village of Racak contradict
the Albanians' and the OSCE's version
Racak. Did the American ambassador William Walker, chief of the OSCE
cease-fire verification mission to Kosovo, show undue haste when, last Saturday,
he publicly accused Sserbian security forces of having on the previous day
executed in cold blood some forty Albanian peasants in the little village of
The question deserves to be raised in the light of a series of disturbing
facts. In order to understand, it is important to go through the events of the
crucial day of Friday in chronological order.
At dawn, intervention forces of the Serbian police encircled and then
attacked the village of Racak, known as a bastion of UCK (Kosovo Liberation
Army, KLA) separatist guerrillas. The police didn't seem to have anything to
hide, since, at 8:30 a.m., they invited a television team (two journalists of AP
TV) to film the operation. A warning was also given to the OSCE, which sent two
cars with American diplomatic licenses to the scene. The observers spent the
whole day posted on a hill where they could watch the village.
At 3 p.m., a police communique reached the international press center in
Pristina announcing that 15 UCK "terrorists" had been killed in combat in Racak
and that a large stock of weapons had been seized.
At 3:30 p.m., the police forces, followed by the AP TV team, left the
village, carrying with them a heavy 12.7 mm machine gun, two automatic rifles,
two rifles with telescopic sights and some thirty Chinese-made kalashnikovs.
At 4:40 p.m., a French journalist drove through the village and met three
orange OSCE vehicles. The international observers were chatting calmly with
three middle-aged Albanians in civilian clothes. They were looking for eventual
Returning to the village at 6 p.m., the journalist saw the observers taking
away two very slightly injured old men and two women. The observers, who did not
seem particularly worried, did not mention anything in particular to the
journalist. They simply said that they were "unable to evaluate the battle
The scene of Albanian corpses in civilian clothes lined up in a ditch which
would shock the whole world was not discovered until the next morning, around 9
a.m., by journalists soon followed by OSCE observers. At that time, the village
was once again taken over by armed UCK soldiers who led the foreign visitors, as
soon as they arrived, toward the supposed massacre site. Around noon, William
Walker in person arrived and expressed his indignation.
All the Albanian witnesses gave the same version: at midday, the policemen
forced their way into homes and separated the women from the men, whom they led
to the hilltops to execute them without more ado.
The most disturbing fact is that the pictures filmed by the AP TV journalists
-- which Le Figaro was shown yesterday -- radically contradict that version.
It was in fact an empty village that the police entered in the morning,
sticking close to the walls. The shooting was intense, as they were fired on
from UCK trenches dug into the hillside.
The fighting intensified sharply on the hilltops above the village. Watching
from below, next to the mosque, the AP journalists understood that the UCK
guerrillas, encircled, were trying desperately to break out. A score of them in
fact succeeded, as the police themselves admitted.
What really happened? During the night, could the UCK have gathered the
bodies, in fact killed by Serb bullets, to set up a scene of cold-blooded
massacre? A disturbing fact: Saturday morning the journalists found only very
few cartridges around the ditch where the massacre supposedly took place.
Intelligently, did the UCK seek to turn a military defeat into a political
victory? Only a credible international inquiry would make it possible to resolve
these doubts. The reluctance of the Belgrade government, which has consistently
denied the massacre, thus seems incomprehensible.
20. LE MONDE
January 21, 1999
by Christophe Chatelot
WERE THE RACAK DEAD REALLY COLDLY MASSACRED? The version of the facts spread
by the Kosovars leaves several questions unanswered. Belgrade says that the
forty-five victims were UCK "terrorists, fallen during combat," but rejects any
Isn't the Racak massacre just too perfect? New eye witness accounts gathered
on Monday, January 18, by Le Monde, throw doubt on the reality of the horrible
spectacle of dozens of piled up bodies of Albanians supposedly summarily
executed by Serb security forces last Friday. Were the victims executed in cold
blood, as UCK says, or killed
in combat, as the Serbs say?
According to the version gathered and broadcast by the press and the Kosovo
verification mission (KVM) observers from the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the massacre took place on January 15 in the early
after-noon. "Masked" Serbian police entered the village of Racak, which had been
shelled all morning by Yugoslav army tanks. They broke down the doors and
entered people's homes, ordering
the women to stay there while they pushed the men to the edge of the village
to calmly execute them with a bullet through the head, not without first having
tortured and mutilated several. Some witnesses even said that the Serbs sang as
they did their dirty work, before leaving the village around 3:30 p.m.
The account by two journalists of Associated Press TV television (AP TV) who
filmed the police operation in Racak contradicts this tale. When at 10 a.m. they
entered the village in the wake of a police armored vehicle, the village was
nearly deserted. They advanced through the streets under the fire of the Kosovo
Liberation Army (UCK) fighters lying in ambush in the woods above the village.
The exchange of fire
continued throughout the operation, with more or less intensity. The main
fighting took place in the woods. The Albanians who had fled the village when
the first Serb shells were fired at dawn tried to escape. There they ran into
Serbian police who had surrounded the village. The UCK was trapped in
The object of the violent police attack on Friday was a stronghold of UCK
Albanian independence fighters. Virtually all the inhabitants had fled Racak
during the frightful Serb offensive of the summer of 1998. With few exceptions,
they had not come back. "Smoke came from only two chimneys", noted one of the
two AP TV reporters.
The Serb operation was thus no surprise, nor was it a secret. On the morning
of the attack, a police source tipped off AP TV: "Come to Racak, something is
happening". At 10 a.m., the team was on the spot alongside the police; it filmed
from a peak overlooking the village and then through the streets in the wake of
an armored vehicle. The OSCE was also warned of the action. At least two teams
of international observers watched the fighting from a hill where they could see
part of the village. They entered Racak shortly after the police left. They then
questioned a few Albanians about the situation, trying to find out whether there
were wounded civilians. Around 6 p.m., they took four persons -- two women and
two old men -- who were very slightly wounded toward the dispensary of the
neighboring town of Stimlje. The verifiers said at that time that they were
"incapable of establishing the number of casualties of that day of
The publicity given by the Serbian police to that operation was intense. At
10:30 a.m., it gave out its first press release. It announced that the police
had "encircled the village of Racak with the aim of arresting the members of a
terrorist group who killed a policeman" the previous Sunday. At 3 p.m., a first
bulletin announced fifteen Albanians killed
in fighting. The next day, Saturday, it welcomed the success of the operation
which, it said, had resulted in the death of dozens of UCK "terrorists" and the
capture of a large stock of weapons.
The attempt to arrest an Albanian presumed to have murdered a Serb policemen
turned into a massacre. At 5:30 p.m., the police evacuated the site under the
sporadic fire of a handful of UCK fighters who continued to hold out thanks to
the steep and rough terrain. In no time, the first of the Albanians who had got
away come back down into the village, those who had managed to hide came out in
the open and three KVM vehicles drove into the village. One hour after the
police left, night fell.
The next morning, the press and the KVM came to see the damage caused by the
fighting. It was at this moment that, guided by the armed UCK fighters who had
recaptured the village, they discovered the ditch where a score of bodies were
piled up, almost exclusively men. At midday, the chief of the KVM in person, the
American diplomat William Walker, arrived on the spot and declared his
indignation at the atrocities committed by "the Serb police forces and the
The condemnation was total, irrevocable. And yet questions remain. How could
the Serb police have gathered a group of men and led them calmly toward the
execution site while they were constantly under fire from UCK fighters? How
could the ditch located on the edge of Racak have escaped notice by local
inhabitants familiar with the surroundings who were present before nightfall? Or
by the observers who were present for over two hours in this tiny village? Why
so few cartridges around the corpses, so little blood in the hollow road where
twenty three people are supposed to have been shot at close range with several
bullets in the head? Rather, weren't the bodies of the Albanians killed in
combat by the Serb police gathered into the ditch to create a horror scene which
was sure to have an appalling effect on public opinion? Don't the violence and
rapidity of Belgrade's reaction, which gave the chief of the KVM forty-eight
hours to leave Yugoslavia, show that the Yugoslavs are sure of what they are
Only an international inquiry above all suspicion will make it possible to
clarify these obscure points. Finnish and Belurussian legal doctors were
expected to arrive in Pristina on Wednesday to attend the autopsies being
carried out by Yugoslav doctors. The problem is that the Belgrade authorities
have never been cooperative in this matter. Why? Whatever the conclusions of the
investigators, the Racak massacre shows that the hope of soon reaching a
settlement of the Kosovo crisis seems quite illusory.
END report by Christophe Chatelot
January 21 1999
21. Observers deny Racak massacre was fabricated
FROM TOM WALKER IN PRISTINA
INTERNATIONAL monitors in Kosovo rejected yesterday as propaganda reports
from Belgrade - boosted by speculation in French newspapers - that the Racak
massacre of ethnic Albanians was a set-up.
Le Figaro and Le Monde suggested that between Friday night and Saturday
morning, when the international furore over Racak began, the Kosovo Liberation
Army could have fabricated evidence and even mutilated some of the bodies.
The reports point out that the beleaguered monitors from the Organisation for
Security and Co-operation in Europe were invited to observe the operation and
that they were in Racak on Friday evening, after the police had pulled back from
the village, and appeared to report nothing untoward. They also state that a
television team from Associated Press filmed part of the police operation and
little of the evidence from its footage tallied with Albanian accounts of the
At the same time, the Serbian state media is giving prominent coverage to the
initial reports of Dr Sasa Dobricanin, the Pristina state pathologist, who has
said that none of the 40 bodies retrieved on Monday "bears any sign of
execution". He added: "The bodies were not massacred."
The backlash is helping Belgrade to substantiate its case against
intervention and to justify its expulsion of William Walker, the OSCE
Ambassador, who technically has to leave Yugoslavia as persona non grata by
But in Pristina OSCE officials yesterday were standing their ground and an
expert gave the first detailed briefing containing compelling evidence that
Racak was indeed a massacre in which many victims were murdered - either shot or
bludgeoned - at close range. Speaking on condition of strict anonymity, the
source did admit, however, that some bodies may have been moved and that one may
have been decapitated and another had an extra gunshot wound inflicted after
"I think we can say this was a very nasty massacre," said the source, who
dismissed Serb claims that the bodies had been stripped of KLA uniforms. "There
was complete sgreement between the holes in the clothes and the bodies."
Le Figaro had suggested that the KLA tried to transform a military defeat
into a political victory.
22. OSCE chairman supports Walker, but calls for verification
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, Jan 22 (AFP) - OSCE chairman Knut Vollebaek, Friday
supported remarks by Kosovo Verification mission chief William Walker's on the
killings in Racak, but called for "verifying" the event in which 45 ethnic
Albanians were allegedly massacred by Serb security forces.
"The OSCE and I stand behind ambassador Walker in his strong reaction to what
he saw in Racak," Vollebeak told reporters in Pristina.
However, he said that Walker's remarks, which provoked Belgrade's decision to
expell him from the country -- later revoked -- were "based on emotions."
"I am certain that ambassador Walker has a reason to believe that what he saw
statement he made, were correct, but it is also very important to verify
this," Vollebeak said.
Walker earlier described the killing as a "massacre" of civilians who were
He said that the killings could be described as a "crime against humanity,"
adding that the KVM had "corroborative evidence" for such claim.
23. BBC Jan 27, 1999; Finnish Forensic Expert's Progress
The head of the Finnish forensic team conducting post-mortems on the bodies
of 45 ethnic Albanians killed at Racak says the truth about how they died may
never be known.
The team leader, Helena Ranta, said there was a possibility the bodies had
been tampered with during the period they were not under international
She said she would be taking the matter up with the Yugoslav authorities.
"The problem as we see in this particular case it is very difficult to
reconstruct the chain of custody of the bodies from the site to the mosque, from
the mosque to the department of forensic medicine," she said.
"So there is a possibility of contamination and, of course, we have to bear
in mind there is also a possibility of fabrication of evidence. This will be
discussed with Yugoslav authorities."
The head of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
has described the killings as a civilian massacre, but the Serbs say those who
died were rebels killed in battle.
The Yugoslav health minister, Miodrag Kovac, said the post-mortems carried
out so far showed the victims had been shot from a distance.
Autopsies may be reviewed
Ms Ranta's team, working on behalf of the OSCE, is conducting autopsies with
local forensic experts and a team from Belarus.
She said that before she joined them, a Yugoslav forensic team had performed
autopsies on 16 bodies.
She said her team would review videos of those autopsies, X-ray the bodies
and if necessary re-examine them.
Her team had completed autopsies on 15 bodies which had not been dealt with
before, she said, adding that nine remained to be examined.
She could not say when the work might end because of the need to translate
all the paper work.
"We want to make sure that there is no misunderstanding," she said, adding
that she would give her report to the OSCE, the European Union, Pristina
hospital and a district court.
24. Possible Tampering With Racak Bodies
By KATARINA KRATOVAC .c The Associated Press
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) -- Finnish pathologists investigating how 45 ethnic
Albanian villagers were killed may be unable to determine whether they were
massacred or died in battle because of possible evidence-tampering, the team
leader said today.
The remarks by Helena Ranta signal that international officials may never
learn the full story of the Racak village killings, which stirred international
outrage and renewed calls for military action against Serbia to halt its
crackdown in Kosovo.
The U.S. chief of the international verifiers, William Walker, accused Serb
police of killing the civilians and characterized it as a massacre. Yugoslav
authorities claim they were rebels killed in battle, and ordered Walker expelled
-- then, under international pressure, rescinded the order.
Ranta told reporters her team was aware of reports that some of the bodies
tested positive on paraffin tests, indicating they may have fired a weapon.
``The problem as we see it, it is difficult to reconstruct the `chain of
custody' (supervision) over the bodies,'' she said. ``There is a possibility of
contamination and a possibility of fabrication of evidence.''
Paraffin tests are widely discounted in U.S. courts because tobacco and
fertilizers often give the same results as gunpowder. The dead were mostly
farmers in a region where smoking is nearly universal among males. The 45
included a boy and three women.
The chief prosecutor for the international war crimes tribunal for
Yugoslavia, Louise Arbour, said last week she would take very seriously any
evidence of tampering with the bodies. She said such an act could be seen as
displaying ``consciousness of guilt'' by the perpetrator.
Yugoslav authorities have permitted the Finnish team, sponsored by the
European Union, to examine the bodies but refuse to permit the U.N. war crimes
tribunal from investigating.
Yugoslavia's justice minister, Zoran Knezevic, said today the government
would allow Arbour to visit Belgrade -- she was denied entry three times last
week -- but conducting an investigation in Kosovo was ``out of the question.''
The Yugoslav health minister, Miodrag Kovac, told reporters in Pristina that
based on the Yugoslavs' examination of 37 bodies so far, ``I can only say that
all the injuries were caused by firearms and from a distance.''
More than 2,000 people have been killed and up to 300,000 driven from their
homes since Serb forces launched an offensive last February against militant
separatists in Kosovo, an Albanian-majority province in southern Serbia.
The brutal killing of five other ethnic Albanians, meanwhile, has sparked
fresh recriminations in Kosovo and dimmed the prospects for negotiating an end
to the province's ethnic strife.
Meetings by the European Union and NATO in Brussels, Belgium, were
overshadowed by the discovery Monday of the five bullet-riddled bodies, two of
them children, near a village southwest of Pristina.
Kosovo Albanians said the civilians were shot by Serb police, while Serb
authorities said the bodies were found in territory controlled by ethnic
The threat of NATO airstrikes in October stopped most fighting between
Yugoslav and Serb forces and the majority ethnic Albanians. But the violence has
increased in recent weeks, culminating in the apparent massacre last week in
In new violence today, Serb police sources, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said a Serb man was shot and wounded near Istok, 35 miles southwest
Late Monday, an ethnic Albanian man was reported killed and his son wounded
in Luka. Police suspect the assailants were separatists angry that the man
surrendered a weapon to authorities.
The Contact Group that oversees the Balkans -- made up of the United States,
Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy -- met Friday in London and drew up a
settlement proposal that would grant autonomy to Kosovo. A higher level meeting
is expected this week.
At a European Union meeting Monday, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine
said the EU was ``determined to exert all possible pressure on all the parties
so they finally accept to negotiate a status of substantial autonomy.''
NATO has condemned the killings in Racak, blaming Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic and his security forces, and has begun reinforcing strike aircraft in
northern Italy in preparation for possible attacks.
25. Taps Reveal Coverup of Kosovo Massacre
By R. Jeffrey Smith Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, January 28, 1999; Page A1
RACAK, Yugoslavia, Jan. 27 ÷ The attack on this Kosovo village that led to
the killing of 45 ethnic Albanian civilians 12 days ago came at the orders of
senior officials of the Serb-led Belgrade government who then orchestrated a
coverup following an international outcry, according to telephone intercepts by
Angered by the slaying of three soldiers in Kosovo, the officials ordered
government forces to "go in heavy" in a Jan. 15 assault on Racak to search out
ethnic Albanian guerrillas believed responsible for the slayings, according to
Western sources familiar with the intercepts.
As the civilian death toll from the assault mounted and in the face of
international condemnation, Yugoslavia's deputy prime minister and the general
in command of Serbian security forces in Kosovo systematically sought to cover
up what had taken place, according to telephone conversations between the two.
Details of the conversations, which were made available by Western sources,
shed new light on the attack and its aftermath, which have again brought NATO to
the brink of confrontation with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic over his
government's repression of separatist ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. The calls show
that the assault on Racak was monitored closely at the highest levels of the
Yugoslav government and controlled by the senior Serbian military commander in
Kosovo ÷ a province of Serbia, Yugoslavia's dominant republic.
The bodies of 45 ethnic Albanian civilians were discovered on a hillside
outside the village by residents and international observers shortly after the
government forces withdrew.
"We have to have a full, independent investigation of this to get to the
bottom of it," a senior Clinton administration official told staff writer Dana
Priest in Washington. "Those responsible have to be brought to justice."
In a series of telephone conversations, Deputy Prime Minister Nikola
Sainovic and Serbian Interior Ministry Gen. Sreten Lukic, expressed concern
about international reaction to the assault and discussed how to make the
killings look as if they had resulted from a battle between government troops
and members of the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army.
The objective was to challenge claims by survivors ÷ later supported by
international monitors ÷ that the victims had been killed in an execution-style
massacre and to defuse pressures for a NATO military response.
Sainovic is the highest-ranking official in the Yugoslav government
responsible for Kosovo matters and has been present at most negotiations with
top Western officials; several Western officials said they understand that he
reports to Milosevic on Kosovo issues. "We often see him as the link between the
government in Belgrade and the administration down here" in Kosovo, one official
Yugoslav army and Serbian Interior Ministry troops have waged an 11-month
campaign against ethnic Albanian guerrillas seeking independence for Kosovo,
where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs 9 to 1 but Serbs hold all the power. At
least 1,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict.
Under an October accord imposed on Milosevic with the threat of NATO
airstrikes, the Yugoslav leader agreed to withdraw some of his forces from
Kosovo, and the conflict eased as both sides maintained ÷ albeit sporadically ÷
an unofficial truce.
That changed in this farming village when army and Interior Ministry troops
converged on the area. As a result of the attack, the village has been
transformed into a ghostly place, bathed in dense, damp fog that cloaks
ice-covered thickets and leafless trees. Many of its houses were shattered by
direct fire from three T-55 army tanks. Now there are only a few dogs, a handful
of braying donkeys and scores of other barnyard animals where more than 1,500
ethnic Albanians once lived.
One source familiar with the phone calls between military leaders in Kosovo
and officials in Belgrade on Jan. 15 and succeeding days said they show that
"the intent was to go in heavy" to find three guerrillas whom government
security officials blamed for the ambush of an Interior Ministry convoy on Jan.
8 southwest of Racak in which three soldiers died. "It was a search and destroy
mission" with explicit approval in Belgrade, the source said.
As tank and artillery fire and the chatter of machine-guns echoed off the
hills surrounding Racak, Sainovic called Lukic from Belgrade, according to
Western sources. Sainovic was aware that the assault was underway, and he wanted
the general to tell him how many people had been killed. Lukic replied that as
of that moment the tally stood at 22, the sources said.
In calls over the following days, Sainovic and Lukic expressed concern about
the international outcry and discussed how to make the killings look like the
result of a pitched battle. Their efforts to cover up what occurred continued,
the Western sources said.
One measure Sainovic advocated in his calls was to seal Kosovo's border with
Macedonia to prevent Louise Arbour, a top U.N. war crimes investigator, from
entering. Arbour was turned back. Another was to demand that Interior Ministry
troops fight to regain control of the killing site and reclaim the bodies.
Serbian forces launched a second assault on the village Jan. 17, and the
following day they seized the bodies from a mosque and transferred them to a
morgue in Pristina, the provincial capital.
A third was to explore whether the killings could be blamed on an
independent, armed group that supposedly came to the region and attacked the
residents of Racak after government troops had left. Sainovic was told that
making this claim was not feasible. Shortly after the attack, a Yugoslav
government spokesman said that the bodies found on the hillside were armed,
uniformed members of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The account was challenged by
international inspectors and journalists who arrived on the scene Jan. 16 and
found dozens of corpses on the ground, all in civilian clothes.
Government officials later alleged that some of the victims were accidentally
caught in a cross-fire between security forces and the rebels or were
deliberately slain by the guerrillas to provoke international outrage. But
survivors, diplomatic observers and rebels who were in the area at the time of
the killings say that little shooting occurred inside the town early in the
assault and that no battle was underway at around 1 p.m., when most of the
victims are said to have died. These sources say that Kosovo Liberation Army
forces were not deployed near a gully where at least 23 of the bodies were
found, and that none of the trees in the area bore bullet marks suggestive
of a battle.
A team of forensic pathologists that arrived in Kosovo from Finland last
Friday, a week after the killings, has found nothing to contradict these
accounts, according to a Western official. "A picture is beginning to emerge
from the autopsies, and it is a tragic one," said another source, explaining
that the types of wounds on the victims indicate that they were "humiliated"
before being fired on from several directions.
The last of 40 autopsies were to be completed today, and the Finnish
pathologists say their final report will be ready by next week. But their
preliminary conclusion is consistent with an account given on Jan. 16 by Imri
Jakupi, 32, a resident of Racak who said he escaped death by running into the
woods. He said that he and other men had been rounded up by security forces in
house-to-house searches and ordered to walk along a ravine before troops
"started shooting from the hills at us. . . . Firing came from all over."
According to Shukri Buja, 32, the commander of guerrilla forces in the area,
Racak was home to many rebels, as government security officials suspected. But
he said that most of them were driven into the hills early Jan. 15 by a wave of
artillery and tank fire. "We were shot at from three sides . . . and they moved
their forces during the day, so it was very hard for us to come down into the
village," Buja said.
Villagers told inspectors and reporters at the scene on Jan. 17 that many of
the dead were last seen alive in the hands of Interior Ministry troops, who said
they were under arrest. Many of the troops involved in the operation wore black
ski masks, but survivors said they recognized some local policemen and Serbian
civilians in uniforms.
Jakupi and another Racak resident, Rem Shabani, told reporters that they
overheard some of what the troops were saying on their walkie-talkies as two
groups of men were being led away from the village.
"How many of them are there?" one soldier asked. When the reply came back as
29, Shabani recalled, the order given was: "Okay, bring them up." Yakupi said he
then overheard another order: "Now get ready to shoot." He fled before the shots
ę Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company
26. Improvisational Peace
The head of the Kosovo 'verifiers' on massacres and Milosevic.
By William Walker
Richard Holbrooke has famously said that negotiation isn't a science. Rather,
like jazz, it's an improvisation. That's how I view my job as headof the
Verification Mission in Kosovo (KVM). What we are attempting is unprecedented in
scope and effort¸and requires maximum flexibility on our part. We are designing
as we proceed. Unfortunately, there are no road maps, and much of what we do is
impossible to quantify.
Let me be clear about KVM's mission. Under the auspices of the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe, we are in Kosovo to keep the two sides
apart until a political solution can be reached. We are not engaged in a
political process; that is spearheaded by U.S. Ambassador Chris Hill and the
European Union's Ambassador Wolfgang Petritsch. Our mission will be a success if
it can help establish the conditions to move the political reconciliation
process forward. That means being everywhere on the ground, reporting on
ceasefire violations and attempting to keep isolated clashes from spiraling into
broader conflict. On Jan. 15, when Yugoslav security forces attacked the village
of Racak, that did not happen. But the public discussion over the events in
Racak has been misdirected. We should be addressing why 45 apparently unarmed
ethnic Albanians were killed, and who was responsible. Instead, much of last
week was spent discussing my reaction to the massacre, in which I blamed the
government's security services, and the government's reaction to my
Critics have said I reacted hastily and wondered if the victims were in fact
battle casualties. After a week of reviewing what we know, including statements
by eyewitnesses, let me restate my position. The Racak villagers were
unquestionably killed by units of the Serb security services. The question is
whether it was a "massacre" or a "firefight." Neither I nor any of those who
accompanied me saw any signs of a two-sided battle.. I'm bothered that instead
of questioning who perpetrated this massacre, people are still questioning
whether it actually happened. I've been in other places, seen other massacres.
All the evidence to date is consistent with my original description.
We are now awaiting forensic tests that should shed further light on the
killings. The Yugoslav government, a Belarussian expert and a Finnish team¸the
last not permitted to examine the victims until five days after they
died¸eventually will issue reports. But the most prestigious investigative
group, Judge Louise Arbour's team from the International Court of Justice in the
Hague, has been denied entry, despite pleas from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi
Annan and others. If we are ever to obtain an objective analysis of the events
of Jan. 15, Judge Arbour and her investigators must have access to Racak.
I accept that the KVM works in an extremely sensitive environment, and that
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic made extraordinary concessions to allow us
in. We are saying and doing things that are obviously difficult for the Yugoslav
government to accept. I'm sure that's part of the reason, in the wake of my
statements last week, the government ordered me expelled. That expulsion order
has been "frozen," and I've been asked many times if that means I may still be
expelled. I can only say that I've received assurances that it won't happen. We
have been told that there are no constraints on the mission or how I work. I can
continue to operate as I've done before.
That means, when we see a battle brewing, we will try to calm both sides. We
will attempt to measure compliance by both sides to the dictates of U.N.
resolutions, and subsequent agreements and promises. It also means moving
verifiers from regional centers to the smaller towns, where the risk of conflict
is greatest. I don't expect the mission to continue without problems, free of
criticism. But I've been heartened by the support KVM has received and our
accomplishments to date. Everybody wants this peace-seeking, unarmed OSCE effort
to succeed. We'll try our best to see that it does.
Newsweek International, February 1, 1999
27. Human Rights Watch investigation finds:
YUGOSLAV FORCES GUILTY OF WAR CRIMES IN RACAK, KOSOVO
(January 29, New York) - Human Rights Watch today categorically rejected
Yugoslav government claims that the victims of the January 15 attack on Racak
were KLA soldiers killed in combat or civilians caught in crossfire. After a
detailed investigation, the organization ccused Serbian special police forces
and the Yugoslav army of indiscriminately attacking civilians, torturing
detainees, and committing summary
executions. The evidence suggests that government forces had direct orders to
kill village inhabitants over the age of fifteen.
The killing of forty-five ethnic Albanian civilians has provoked an apparent
shift in western policy toward Kosovo, which the Contact Group is meeting in
London today to discuss.
A report in the Washington Post yesterday provided excerpts from telephone
conversations between Serbian Interior Ministry General Sreten Lukic and
Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic, who clearly ordered government
security forces to "go in heavy" in Racak. The two officials later discussed
ways that the killings might be covered up to avoid international
Human Rights Watch conducted separate interviews in Kosovo with fourteen
witnesses to the attack, many of whom are hiding out of fear for their lives, as
well as with foreign journalists and observers who visited
Racak on January 16. Together, the testimonies suggest a well planned and
executed attack by government forces on civilians in Racak, where the KLA had a
sizable presence and had conducted some ambushes on police patrols.
As has happened on numerous occasions in the Kosovo conflict, once the KLA
retreated government forces moved in and committed atrocities against the
residents of the village. While it is possible that some
residents may have defended their homes in the morning, most were clearly not
involved in any armed resistance. At least twenty-three people were summarily
executed by the police while offering no
resistance - a clear violation of the laws of war, and a crime punishable by
the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
Villagers told consistent stories of how government forces rounded up,
tortured, and then apparently executed the twenty-three ethnic Albanians on a
hill outside of the village. Two witnesses interviewed
by Human Rights Watch saw these men being beaten by the police and then taken
off in the direction of the hill. Local villagers, foreign journalists, and
diplomatic observers who saw the bodies the next day
said that the victims had been shot from close range, most of them in the
head; some of them appeared to have been shot while running away. Four men are
known to have survived.
Eighteen other people were killed inside Racak, including a twelve-year-old
boy and at least two female civilians, as well as nine soldiers of the KLA. At
least one civilian, Nazmi Ymeri (76), was executed in his yard. Witnesses claim
that Banush Kamberi, whose headless body was found in his yard, was last seen
alive in the custody of the police. At least two people, Bajram Mehmeti and his
daughter Hanumshahe (20), were killed by a grenade thrown by the police as they
were running through the street.
Human Rights Watch confirmed that a group of approximately forty policeman,
in blue uniforms and without masks, shot from a distance of twenty meters on
unarmed civilians who were running through their yards. They killed Riza Beqa
(44), Zejnel Beqa (22), and Halim Beqa (12), and wounded two women, Zyhra Beqa
(42) and her daughter Fetije (18). It is believed that local policemen from the
nearby Stimlje police station participated in this action.
The attack on civilians in Racak is one in a long series of war crimes
committed by the Yugoslav Army and Serbian police during the Kosovo conflict.
Since February 1998, government troops have systematically
destroyed civilian property, attacked civilians, and committed summary
executions, all of which are grave breaches of the laws of war. The Kosovo
Liberation Army (KLA) has also committed some serious abuses,
such as the taking of civilian hostages and summary executions (documented in
the Human Rights Watch report "Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo" available,
along with other Kosovo reports, on the
web site www.hrw.org). The KLA in the Shtimle and Suva Reka area was
particularly known for a high number of kidnappings of ethnic Serbs.
Human Rights Watch called on the Yugoslav government to allow an unhindered
investigation by international forensics experts and the war crimes tribunal to
determine the precise nature of events. Government authorities, directly
implicated in the crime, cannot be trusted to conduct an impartial
The organization also called on the international community to take resolute
action against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his government for
brazenly violating international humanitarian law.
International inaction in the face of past atrocities, the organization said,
gave President Milosevic the rightful impression that he could continue his
abusive campaign with impunity.
Finally, Human Rights Watch called on the Contact Group to insist that the
Chief Prosecutor of the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia, Louise Arbour, be granted access to Racak and other sites of
atrocities in Kosovo.
HRW REPORT: YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT WAR CRIMES IN RACAK
The village of Racak, about half a kilometer from the town of Stimlje, had a
pre-conflict population of approximately 2,000 people. During the large-scale
government offensive in August 1998, the Serbian police shelled Racak, and
several family compounds were looted and burned. Since then, most of the
population has lived in Stimlje or nearby Urosevac. On the day before the
January 15 attack, less then four hundred people were in the village.
The KLA was also in Racak, with a base
near the power plant. A number of ethnic Serbs were kidnapped in the Stimlje
region, mostly during the summer.
The January 15 attack might have been provoked by a well-prepared KLA ambush
near Dulje (west of Stimlje) on January 8, in which three Serbian policeman were
killed and one was wounded. On January 10, the KLA ambushed another police
patrol in Slivovo (south of Stimlje), killing one policeman. A Yugoslav Army
buildup in the area around Stimlje ensued over the next four days, especially on
the mountain road between Dulje and Caraljevo villages.
The Police Action in Racak
Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that they heard automatic weapons fire
beginning around 6:30 a.m. on January 15, when the police reportedly exchanged
fire with the KLA from a hill called Cesta. Half an hour
later, army tanks and armored cars came as backup and shelled the forest near
the neighboring village of Petrovo, where some KLA units were positioned. They
also fired at some family compounds in Racak. Some families managed to escape
Racak, fleeing towards Petrovo, which was also affected along with the villages
of Malopoljce and Belinca.
Around 7:00 a.m., Racak was surrounded by the Serbian police. Several
witnesses told Human Rights Watch that they saw seven blue armored vehicles on
Cesta hill, as well as three VJ tanks (type T-55). The
police were shooting and some heavy artillery was fired directly into some
houses near Malopoljce and Petrovo from a position in the nearby forest called,
in Albanian, Pishat.
The extent of the fighting in Racak that morning remains somewhat unclear.
According to one Serbian policeman, the KLA's resistance around Racak lasted
almost four hours, and when they were finally able
to enter the village the police confiscated three mounted machine guns.
Villagers, however, said that the police had entered the village by 9:00 a.m.
They said that there was shooting and some artillery until 4:00p.m.
By 4:30 p.m., the police had left the village.
Deliberate Killings of the Beqa Family Members
Ten households of the Beqa family live in the part of Racak called Upper
Mahalla on the edge of the village. According to one member of the family, whose
son and husband were both killed, at around 7:00 a.m. thirty members of the Beqa
family tried to run toward the nearby forest when they heard the police. She
told Human Rights Watch that more then forty policemen wearing blue uniforms and
without masks began shooting at them from a distance of twenty meters from the
top of the hill. She said:
My son H.B. was running on my left side, maybe two meters from me. He had his
trousers in his hands, we did not have time to dress properly. He was warning me
to move aside and suddenly he fell down. The bullet hit him in the neck. In
front of me my husband fell as well. He didn't move any more.
Another person in the same group, aged seventy, told Human Rights Watch how
he saw his twenty-two-year-old grandson shot dead, while his eighteen-year-old
granddaughter and her mother were both wounded.
The other members of the Beqa family ran back to a house and hid under the
steps until nightfall. Nobody dared to help the wounded, who spent two hours
crawling for shelter from the police. One young women said that the police
stayed on the hill singing songs and calling her relative by name in the
Albanian language ("Aziz, come here to see your dead relatives!"), which
suggests that local policemen from Stimlje who were familiar with the residents
of Racak may have participated in the attack.
Killed by Grenade
According to M.B., who was hiding in his home, Bajram Mehmeti and his
daughter Hanumshahe were killed by a grenade early in the morning of January 15
as they were running through the center of the village. He said:
My cousins were lying twenty meters from the water well. He was hit in the
head and she was hit in the chest. One man pulled her in the house and she died
in his hands.
Searching for Weapons and the Killing of Nazmi Ymeri (76)
According to eleven different witnesses interviewed separately, groups of
about thirty policemen each were entering Racak from different directions
beginning around 7:00 a.m. By 9:00 a.m., most of them had gathered in the
village center near the mosque. These policemen also wore blue uniforms but they
had masks on their faces with slits for their eyes and mouth, and they wore
helmets. Some of them had "rocket
propelled grenades" strapped to their backs. These police searched house by
house, witnesses said, looking for people and weapons. Most of the hidden
civilians, upon seeing the police in the village center, ran in
the opposite direction towards another part of the village.
One witness, S.A. (46), was hiding with his wife and the five children of his
neighbor between the house and stable of Hyrzi Bilalli. From this spot, he said
he overheard a discussion held by a group of
policemen. He told Human Rights Watch:
I heard clearly when one said, "Release everybody under the age of fifteen.
You know what to do with the others." I heard when another one gave the order to
pick up the bodies from the yards in plastic bags<
and put them in the cars. They took away the body of Ahmet's wife who was
shot on the street while she was trying to run from one house to another. I
later saw the place where her body was. It was just a pool of blood.
The same witness said that the same group of policeman went into the next
door house of the elderly Nazmi Imeri, who lived alone, and was later found
dead. He said:
I heard shooting and a scream. In the evening I went in his [Imeri's] yard
and took his body to our yard. The top of the head was blown off.
Torture in the Yard of Sadik Osmani
As the police were in the Racak, many villager made their way, running and
hiding, to the large house of Sadik Osmani near the place called, in Albanian,
Kodra e Bebushit. One boy who was present, aged twelve, told Human Rights Watch
that approximately thirty men and four boys, himself included, decided to hide
in Osmani's stable. A group of approximately twenty women and children hid in
the cellar of Osmani's three-storey house. The police later detained, beat, and
executed the men in the stable (see below), but the women and children in the
cellar were left unharmed.
According to the boy, the police entered Osmani's yard sometime before noon.
One tall policeman wearing a black mask and a helmet with a blue police uniform
kicked in the door and immediately began to shoot over the heads of the thirty
men lying on the ground, who were screaming "Don't shoot! We are civilians!" All
of the men were taken outside into the yard, where they were forced to lie on
the ground and searched for weapons. The four boys were taken out of this group,
including the twelve-year-old who spoke with Human Rights Watch, and were locked
up together with the women and other children in Osmani's
cellar. The police also took four men from the cellar - Sadik Osmani, Burim
Osmani, Rama Shabani, and Mufail Hajrizi - and put them with the other men in
the yard. Burim Osmani, who is a teenager around fifteen years old, was later
put back into the cellar, apparently because he was too young. The conscious
decision to return him, while later executing the others, suggests that the
police had a clear order to kill the adult males of the village.
Before the twelve-year-old boy was sent to the cellar, however, he saw how
the police beat the men in the yard, including his father and some other
relatives. The boy told Human Rights Watch:
Two or three policeman beat them with wooden sticks. One was kicking them in
the face with his boots. The others were just watching. It was terrible. The men
were screaming, and their heads were covered with
blood. A policeman locked me in the cellar with the women, but I could hear
screaming for the next half an hour.
This version of events was corroborated by three other women locked in the
cellar who spoke with Human Rights Watch in two separate interviews, although
they could not see the men in the yard. All of them believed that the police had
only arrested their male relatives and taken them away to the police station in
Stimlje. It was only the next day when they realized that the twenty-three men
had been killed.
Some time around 1:00 p.m. the police led the twenty-three men out of
Osmani's yard. One witness, S. A., was hidden at that time behind a compound
wall fifty meters from the Osmani house. He told Human Rights Watch that he
heard the police leading the detained men through the Racak streets. He
I heard the police ask them [the men] where is the headquarters of our army
[the KLA], and they answered where it was. Then they went together toward the
power station in the direction of our army. I think it was
maybe 3:00 p.m. when I heard shooting, but I did not know that they were
Members of the OSCE's Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) entered Racak late in
the afternoon of January 15, after having been prevented from entering the area
during the day by VJ and police forces. The KVM took five wounded persons,
including a woman and a boy suffering from gunshot wounds, and left. During the
night, the remaining men of the village searched for the wounded, still thinking
that the twenty-three men were in the Stimlje police station. One person who
participated in the search told Human Rights Watch that they found the bodies on
the hill called Kodri e Bebushit, in Albanian, around 4:00 a.m.. He said:
I saw Mufail Hajrizi. He was slashed on the chest. Then we found Haqif, the
guest from Petrovo. His body was lying on his side with the hands as if he
wanted to defend himself. His throat and half his face
had been cut by a knife. On the top of his head was a wooden stick with some
paper. Something was written on that paper but I can't remember what it was.
There were more than twenty bodies, almost all of them were my relatives. We
wanted to cover the bodies with blankets, or something else, but one man said
not to touch anything before KVM comes tomorrow.
One woman, L.S., told Human Rights Watch that her son and husband had
survived the execution. She told Human Rights Watch:
In the morning I got information that the men from the stable were found
dead. But soon I saw my husband and son coming toward me - like they were
standing up from the grave. My son told me that the group of
policeman had pushed them with their hands behind their heads to go towards
the hill. My son was in front with Sadik, and the others were behind. When he
came to the top of the hill, he saw another group of
policeman waiting for them with rifles. He turned his head and shouted to the
others to run away. He ran toward the village of Rance, and didn't turn his
head. One bullet crossed through his pocket, and another
one is still in his belt.
Precisely how the twenty-three men were killed by the police on the hill
outside of Racak remains somewhat unclear. But witness testimony, as provided
here, and the physical evidence found at the site by
journalists and KVM monitors, makes it clear that most of these men were
fired upon from close range as they offered no resistance. Some of them were
apparently shot while trying to run away.
Journalists at the scene early on January 16 told Human Rights Watch that
many of these twenty-three men also had signs of torture, such as missing finger
nails. Their clothes were bloody, with slashes and holes
at the same spots as their bullet entry and exits wounds, which argues
against government claims that the victims were KLA soldiers who were dressed in
civilian clothes after they had been killed. All of them
were wearing rubber boots typical of Kosovo farmers rather than military
It is possible that some of these men were defending their village in the
morning and then went to the Osmani house once they saw the police entering the
village. However, they clearly did not resist the police
at the time of their capture or execution. They were tortured and arbitrarily
killed - crimes that can never be justified in times of war or peace.
The Forensic Investigation
After a thorough inspection of the bodies by KVM, villagers collected the
bodies and transported them to the Racak mosque. Two days later, however, under
heavy arm, the police entered the village and took the
corpses to the morgue in Prishtina.
On January 25, head of the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Prishtina,
Slavisa Dobricanin, announced that autopsies had been conducted on twenty-one
bodies, some of them conducted in the presence of OSCE
personnel. None of the bodies bore the signs of a massacre, he said. The OSCE
did not comment on its impressions of the procedures or the announced
A Finnish pathology team subsequently took over for the OSCE, and began to
participate in the autopsy procedures together with the government authorities.
The team distanced itself from Dobricanin's statements and, on January 26,
expressed concern that there had been a tampering with the evidence, although
they did not clarify by whom or when. The results of the Finns' investigations
should be made public in early February.
The International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
Human rights organizations can document the abuses taking place in Kosovo,
and the international community can take steps to bring these abuses to an end.
But only one institution has been entrusted by the international community to
prosecute the persons responsible for violations of humanitarian law: the
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The role of
the ICTY is of crucial
importance, as the prosecution of those who commit atrocities is likely to
have a significant deterrence effect in addition to upholding the principles of
ICTY's jurisdiction over war crimes committed in Kosovo is indisputable under
the mandate established by U.N. Security Council resolution 827, and has been
repeatedly reaffirmed by the U.N. Security Council in its resolutions on Kosovo,
as well as by the tribunal itself. In the absence of any efforts on the part of
Yugoslav authorities to bring the perpetrators of humanitarian law violations to
justice, the ICTY represents the only avenue to prosecute abusers.
The Yugoslav authorities have consistently refused to accept the jurisdiction
of the ICTY, and have frustrated the work of ICTY investigators in Kosovo by
denying them visas and barring them from
carrying out investigations. Only a few ICTY investigators have been able to
gain access to Kosovo, and even they have been officially prohibited by the
Yugoslav authorities from interviewing persons or gathering evidence. The
Yugoslav authorities base their refusal to cooperate with the ICTY on their view
that the conflict in Kosovo is an internal dispute with "terrorists," a view
repeatedly rejected by the
ICTY, the U.N. Security Council, and other international actors, including
Human Rights Watch.
On January 18, Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY, Louise Arbour, attempted to
enter Kosovo through Macedonia in order to "investigate the reported atrocities
in Racak." She did not have a Yugoslav visa, having been denied one by the
authorities, and was refused entry into the country.
Back in The Hague, Arbour stated unequivocally that she will be investigating
the massacre in Racak "with or without access to the territory." Regarding the
fears of evidence tampering, she said:
Evidence of tampering - should such evidence become available, is, in fact,
excellent circumstantial evidence of guilt. If one can trace where the order to
tamper came from, it permits a pretty strong
inference that it was done for the purpose of hiding the truth, which
demonstrates consciences of guilt.
Western governments and the Contact Group, including Russia, have called on
President Milosevic to cooperate with the ICTY. More than just a visa for
Arbour, this should mean unrestricted access for ICTY's investigators to Racak
and the sites of other humanitarian law violations in Kosovo committed by both
the KLA and the government.
The New York Times, Feb. 10, 1998
28. Uncertainty About Delegates Clouds Kosovo Talks
By JANE PERLEZ
RAMBOUILLET, France -- In the bush of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci is known as "the
snake." No-one seems to be quite sure why, but some suggest that the 29-year-old
political science graduate of a Swiss university has the ability to slither away
from battles, just in time.
For the negotiators at the Kosovo peace talks, Thaci is a key figure: tough,
smart, ambitious and arrogant.
But diplomats who know Thaci as the head of the political directorate of the
Kosovo Liberation Army say it is hard to figure out exactly how he thinks or
where he stands. One diplomat said he believed that Thaci was open to Western
ideas and democratic institutions; another said he believed that he could well
be influenced by Marxist thought.
Such uncertainties about the characters in the 16 member Albanian delegation
to the peace talks, and to a lesser extent on the Serbian side, is one of the
many factors that make the outcome of the negotiations at a chateau here
In the 13 member Serbian delegation, there are three known quantities -- men
who are adjutants to the Yugoslav leader, Slobodan Milosevic.
Milosevic, who has stayed in Belgrade, is the missing man at Rambouillet
because, the negotiators acknowledge, he will be the sole arbiter of whether the
Serbs accept a settlement.
But of the top Serbian delegates, Western diplomats are quite familiar with
Nikola Sainovic, 50, a deputy prime minister of Yugoslavia, the point man for
Milosevic in Kosovo, and Ratko Markovic, 54, a Serbian deputy prime minister, is
a lawyer who drafted the 1990 Serbian constitution.
The intimate involvement of Sainovic in Kosovo was illustrated last month
after telephone conversations he had with a Serbian general, Sreten Lukic, were
listened to by Western diplomats. They showed that Sainovic tried to cover up
the circumstances of a massacre of ethnic Albanian civilians last month at the
Kosovo village of Racak, the diplomats said. A report by international monitors
concluded that the killings were an act of revenge by Serbian forces for the
killing of four of their men.
But in the conversations, Sainovic could be heard asking if it would be
possible to make the killings look as if they were the result of a battle
between the Kosovo Liberation Army and the Serbs.
He also suggested to the general that Louise Arbour, the chief prosecutor of
the international court for war crimes in the Hague, Netherlands, be prevented
from entering Kosovo. A few days later, Ms. Arbour was stopped at a border
crossing as she attempted to enter Kosovo from Macedonia.
Sainovic is known around Belgrade as "Saya Patton" -- a nickname intended to
show his preference for scorched earth tactics in Kosovo.
By contrast, Markovic, a law professor, represents Milosevic by managing to
ordain as legal whatever political maneuver Milosevic needs, according to
Serbian politicians. Markovic found the legal justification for overturning the
local elections that the opposition parties won in Serbia in 1996, a ruling that
produced more than eight weeks of student demonstrations in Belgrade.
29. DIE WELT (Vienna) March 8,
"Whether or not it was a massacre, nobody wants to know any more"
By Karin Kneissl
Vienna - Massacre or gruesome piece of propaganda? What happened in the
Kosovo village of Racak last January 15?
Finnish legal doctors were supposed to clear up whether in fact 45 ethnic
Albanian civilians were executed by Serbian units -- or whether defeated UCK/KLA
fighters who were killed in battle were arranged to deceive Western observers.
Now the dead have been buried for three weeks -- but the report is still not in.
No wonder: "This report is a hot potato", said an OSCE diplomat in Vienna to Die
Welt, "no one really wants to touch it." ["Eine heisse Kartoffel is dieser
Bericht", sagt ein OSCE-Diplomat in Wien gegenueber der WELT,"Keiner will in so
At first the report of the Finnish doctors' team was held back out of
consideration for the Kosovo peace talks in Rambouillet, although it was ready
from a legal medical viewpoint. That is indirectly admitted by the OSCE.
As acting EU Presidency, the German government was supposed to receive this
delicate document from the Finns via the German embassy in Helsinki. "We are
waiting for the report these days, the delivery can happen at any moment," said
a Bonn foreign ministry spokesman.
But in the OSCE Secretariat in Vienna the story goes like this: "The
originals are in the hands of the judicial officials and the medical faculty of
Pristina as contractors." There is no thought of further publication. "We don't
know whether the EU as sponsor of this inquiry already has a report," says Mans
Nyberg, OSCE spokesman.
Moreover it was the Chief of the OSCE mission in Kosovo, William Walker, who
immediately after the events in Racak announced that the Serbs were responsible
for a "massacre." Again in early February he said: "It will come out that it was
a massacre by Serbs". These declarations greatly sharpened tensions between the
Serbs and NATO, so that for a while airstrikes were in the offing.
Even if strictest secrecy is maintained, leaks of the report's conclusions
are to be reckoned on. But: "In view of the ongoing efforts to get the
conflicting parties to sign an agreement, nobody is interested in finding out
what really happened in Racak," said an OSCE diplomat with resignation.
30. Report into Racak deaths due out next week-Germany
BONN, March 9 (Reuters) - Germany said on Tuesday that the findings of an
investigation into the killing in January of 45 Kosovo Albanians in the village
of Racak would be released next week.
Helena Ranta, the Finnish leader of a team investigating the deaths, would
present the report on March 17 in Kosovo's capital Pristina, a Foreign Ministry
The European Union, which is currently chaired by Germany, ordered a forensic
inquiry into the deaths which were branded by international observers at the
scene as a massacre.
Spokesman Volker Pellet told Reuters the report, which is not yet complete,
would be handed over on Monday by the Finnish government to Germany's embassy in
Ranta would then travel to Kosovo to present the report's findings at
Germany's diplomatic mission in Pristina on March 17, Pellet added.
William Walker, head of the Kosovo Verification Mission monitoring fighting
in the restive Serb province, accused government forces at the time of carrying
out the killings. The mission operates under the auspices of the Organisation
for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
31. B92 Radio Report , 3-10-99; Racak Investigation Findings
SERB INVESTIGATORS: RACAK NOT A MASSACRE (lines 61-75 in B 92 format)
PRISTINA, Wednesday -- Serbian Public Prosecutor Dragisa Krsmanovic told
media today that forensic experts had determined that UCK members killed in
Racak on January 15 had not been mutilated. According to Krsmanovic,
investigators had detected nitrates on 37 of the 40 bodies, which demonstrated
that they had been firing guns before they were killed. He added that all
injuries on the bodies had been inflicted by weapons fired from a distance. The
Pristina Prosecutor's Office found that there were no grounds for proceedings
against Serbian police involved in the Racak incident because the police had
acted within the law and their authority in repulsing an attack.
A report on the same incident by a Finnish team of forensic scientists will
be released by team leader, pathologist Helena Ranta, in Pristina next
Odraz B92 vesti, 031099/1 [English] 13:00 CET: source:
32. U.S. SCENARIO FOR KOSOVO CONTINUES TO COLLAPSE:
EUROPEANS WANT TO FIRE WILLIAM WALKER
From Diana Johnstone in Paris
13 March 1999
Faced with mounting evidence that the January 15 "Racak massacre" was a
set-up perpetrated by ethnic Albanian rebels to win NATO support, a number of
European governments want to replace the American head of the Kosovo
Verification Mission who hastily endorsed the "massacre" story, a Berlin
newspaper reported today. The Kosovo Verification Mission is officially under
the authority of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),
but its chief, former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, has tended to make it a
one-man American show.
On January 16, Ambassador William Walker, accompanied by a large media
contingent, was led by members of the "Kosovo Liberation Army" (UCK) to a ditch
in the village of Racak where some forty bodies were lying. In an instant
on-the-spot press conference, Walker spoke of his "personal revulsion" at "an
unspeakable atrocity", "a massacre, a crime against humanity". He did "not
hesitate to accuse the government security forces of responsibility" for
killings "at close range in execution fashion".
The "Berliner Zeitung" reported today from OSCE headquarters in Vienna that
several leading OSCE members, including Germany, Italy and Austria, are anxious
to fire Walker. "High-ranking OSCE European representatives are in possession of
information according to which the 45 Albanians found in the Kosovo village of
Racak in mid-January were not -- as Walker declared -- victims of a Serbian
massacre of civilians", the newspaper said.
Within the OSCE, it has been assumed for some time that the Racak massacre
was "staged by the Albanian side", the newspaper noted. This conclusion was
reached on the basis of data gathered in the Kosovo Mission's headquarters,
independently of the Finnish forensic report on Racak whose publication has been
inexplicably delayed (see earlier report).
According to the evidence which the OSCE is so far keeping to itself, most of
the dead bodies were carried from outlying areas around Racak and placed
together on the spot where they were subsequently shown to Walker and Western
media. In reality, according to the newspaper's OSCE sources, most of the
Albanians died in battle with Serbian artillery, and many of the dead were
"posthumously dressed in civilian clothing" before being shown to Walker and the
This is a technique which recalls the famous December 1989 "Timisoara
massacre", in which cadavers from the local morgue were presented to television
viewers as victims of a massacre perpetrated by Rumanian security forces.
The Europeans are considering the former OSCE general secretary, Wilhelm
Hoeynck from Germany, and Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong,
as possible replacements, the Berliner Zeitung reported.
According to latest reports, the forensic report on the Racak bodies, after
being delayed for a fortnight, is now to be delivered to the German government,
as current presidency of the European Union, on March 17.
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Last revised: February 27, 2003