KLA members suspected of 1998 war crime

BELGRADE -- Belgrade war crimes prosecution believes KLA’s Orahovac group is responsible for the 1998 deaths of 25 Serbs in Kosovo.

Prosecution spokesman Bruno Vekarić told B92 that the Belgrade District Court War Crimes prosecution considers Sinan Morina, currently in custody, as one of the persons responsible for the crime.

The murdered Kosovo Serbs, whose remains were identified last year, lived in the villages of Opteruša and Retimlje, Orahovac municipality. The prosecution suspects that the crime took place in the nights between July 17 and 19, 1998.

The victims were forced out of their homes, subjected to beatings, stripped of their belongings, including their money and jewellery. The men were then separated from the women and taken to Volujak, where they were further abused and in the end executed. Their bodies were then thrown into a nearby cave.

The women were taken to a different location, and were raped and imprisoned in a school in the village of Samodraže, Suva Reka municipality. KLA Orahovac group members burnt the houses in both villages, after which they demolished two village churches.

The prosecution suspects 35 persons of having committed the crime, but believes there may be more involved. One of the suspects, Sinan Morina, is in custody, while others are believed to be in Kosovo, which could represent a problem as the process evolves.

”The prosecution suspects that the person, recently transferred from Montenegro on terrorism charges, is also responsible for the crimes committed against Kosovo Serb civilians near the Volujak cave, when 25 people were brutally executed”, Vekarić said.

”We expect the case to be taken over by the War crimes prosecution and that a request for the start of the investigation into the crime will ensue shortly”, Vekarić concluded.