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This page originates from:  

The articles collected by: Mr. Benjamin Crocker Works, Director
SIRIUS: The Strategic Issues Research Institute
E-mail: BenWorks@aol.Com
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."


  1. AP-NY Times, Jan. 16, 1999; Serbs Said to Kill 15 Kosovo Rebels; Monitor Wounded
  2. Reuters, Jan. 16, 1999; FOCUS-At least 22 Kosovo Albanians found dead
  3. AP, Jan. 16, 1999; Trail of Bodies Tells Kosovo Tale
  4. Don North; Irony at Racak: AP, Dec. 5, 1989 & Wash Post 1993; Walker on a Massacre of Jesuits,
  5. Itar-Tass Jan, 16-1999; Milutinovic Blasts Osce Mission Head Over Kosovo.
  6. Reuters, Jan. 17, 1999; Prosecutor starts Kosovo killings mission Monday
  7. Reuters, Jan. 17, 1999; FOCUS-Firing as Serbs enter massacre village
  8. AP, Jan. 17, 1999; Serb Forces Fire on Kosovo Village
  9. The Times (of London) Jan. 17, 1999, Horror on the hillside in Kosovo
  10. AP, Jan. 18, 1999; Serb Forces Attack Albanian Village
  11. Reuters, Jan. 18, 1999; Kosovo monitors shock police to let refugees flee
  12. Reuters, Jan. 18, 1999, Yugoslavia orders out chief Kosovo monitor
  13. Reuters, Jan. 19, 1999; ``Spies'' become targets as Kosovo truce unravels
  14. Jan. 18, 1999; Official Serb Police Report on Racak Incident (Ministry of Interior)
  15. The Times, Jan. 20, 1999; Serbian police chief dies in fight at village
  16. AFP, Jan. 21, 1999; KLA responsible for shooting at truce monitors: OSCE
  17. The Times, Jan. 20, 1999; Proof May Exist to Blame Serbs for Atrocity
  18. B-92 Radio, Belgrade, Jan. 21, 1999; German Minister Fischer Defines Seven Conditions
  19. Le Figaro, Jan. 20, 1999; Rene Girard; Kosovo, Obscure Areas of a Massacre
  20. Le Monde, Jan. 21, 1999; C Chatellot; Were the Racak dead really coldly massacred?
  21. The Times, Jan. 22, 1999; Observers deny Racak massacre was fabricated
  22. AFP Jan. 22, 1999; OSCE chairman supports Walker, but calls for verification
  23. BBC Jan 27, 1999; Finnish Forensic Expert's Progress report
  24. AP Jan 27, 1999; Finnish Forensic Expert: Possible Tampering With Racak Bodies
  25. Wash. Post, Jan. 28, 1999; RJ Smith; Taps Reveal Coverup of Kosovo Massacre
  26. Newsweek; Feb. 1, 1999; "Improvisational Peace," William Walker on the Massacre
  27. Human Rights Watch, Jan 29, 1999; Report on Racak Massacre
  28. NY Times; Feb. 10, 1999; Uncertainty About Delegates Clouds Kosovo Talks --excerpt.
  29. De Welt (Vienna), Mar. 8, 1999, Racak Autopsy report "buried"
  30. Reuters, Mar. 9, 1999; Finns, Germany to Release Racak Report on March 17.
  31. B 92 Radio, Mar. 10, 1999; Prosecutor releases preliminary Forensics report
  32. Berliner Zeitung, Mar. 13, 1999; D Johnstone on collapse of Racak Massacre Allegations


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 day.

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 villagers:

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 Wednesday.

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 for yourself.

Benjamin Works

The Articles

1. Serbs Said to Kill 15 Kosovo Rebels; Monitor Wounded


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 soldiers.

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 them."

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 nearby hills.

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 down.

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 southwestern Kosovo.

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 Saturday.

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, 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,'' 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 action.

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 reporting team.

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 in it.

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 casualties.

06:26 01-16-99

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.

AP-NY-01-16-99 1718EST

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 priests

5. Milutinovic Blasts Osce Mission Head Over Kosovo.

Itar-Tass 16-JAN-99

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, Milutinovic said.

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 monitoring body.

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 grant access.

``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 on Sunday.

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 since 1991.

To date, it has only issued public indictments linked to the war that accompanied the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

06:47 01-17-99

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 casualties.

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 the day.

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 Racak.

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 guerrillas.

``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.

08:58 01-17-99

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 provide security.

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 permission.

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 totally baseless.''

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.

AP-NY-01-17-99 0844EST

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 murder.

Some had had their eyes gouged out, or their heads smashed in. One man lay decapitated in

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 villagers reported.

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 massacre.

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 atrocities.

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 decision.

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 airstrikes.

NATO's Secretary-General Javier Solana on Sunday condemned the massacre in Racak and said Milosevic is ``personally responsible for the behavior of his security forces.''

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 12-year-old boy.

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 in effect.

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 Kosovo.

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 permanent council.

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 today.

``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.''

AP-NY-01-18-99 0846EST

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 watching.

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 their mandate.

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 on Friday.

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.

18:10 01-18-99

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 grata.

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,'' he continued.

``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.

15:19 01-18-99

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 ground.''

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 province.

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 the guerrillas.

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 of Racak.

``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 tanks.''

18:29 01-19-99


Date: 99-01-20 01:47:09 EST - Received from Father Sava, Decani Monastery

BELGRADE, 18 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 Stimlje.

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 Magistrate.

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


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 said.

"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 starts."

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 October.

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 happen again."

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 airstrikes.

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 Albanian.

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 independent panel.

Albright, who has conferred with a lengthening list of other foreign ministers, said she has found "unanimous" support for Walker and the monitoring mission.

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 said.

"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 Nicaragua.

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 came to

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 before.

In early January, police accused the relief agency Doctors Without Borders of listening in on police radio communications, a charge the organization denied.

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 report.

ę Copyright 1999 by the Times of London.

18. B-92 Radio, Belgrade, Jan. 21, 1999; German Minister Fischer Defines Seven Conditions


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.


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 Racak?

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 civilian casualties.

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 toll".

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.

END --


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 international investigation.

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 between.

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 fighting".

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 Yugoslav army".

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 saying?

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

The Times

January 21 1999

21. Observers deny Racak massacre was fabricated


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 killings.

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 tonight.

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 death.

"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 or the

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 shot dead


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 supervision.

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 Albanian militants.

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 Racak.

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 of Pristina.

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.

AP-NY-01-26-99 1034EST

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 Western governments.

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 said.

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 rang out.

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 statement.

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:


(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 condemnation.

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 investigation.

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.



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.

Extrajudicial Executions

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 said:

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 killed.

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 footwear.

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 results.

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 (ICTY)

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 international justice.

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


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 unpredictable.

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, 1999

"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 richtig".]

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 spokesman said.

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 Helsinki.

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.

12:12 03-09-99

31. B92 Radio Report , 3-10-99; Racak Investigation Findings [English]]


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 Wednesday.

Odraz B92 vesti, 031099/1 [English] 13:00 CET: source: http://moumee.calstatela.edu/~sii/odrazb/n_990301/0309991e.htm



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 media.

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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