Families of kidnapped Kosovo Serbs to sue Del Ponte

BELGRADE -- An association of the families of kidnapped Kosovo Serbs says it will file a lawsuit against Carla Del Ponte.

The announcement came Sunday after new details emerged from the former chief Hague Tribunal prosecutor's new book, which shed new light on the possible fate of the Serbs still missing from the province.

The association's president, Simo Spasić, says the families will sue the Swiss prosecutor for covering up the crimes committed against the Serbs kidnapped and killed by Kosovo's Albanians since the end of the 1999 war.

"In 2004, Del Ponte told us in The Hague that she had information that all Serbs kidnapped in Kosovo were later murdered, but she kept silent about her knowledge that before they died, their organs were removed," Simić told the daily Dan.

In her book, "The Hunt", to be published in Italy in April, Del Ponte says that the UN war crimes court prosecution was informed that the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, conducted a human organ trafficking operation using Kosovo's non-Albanians it previously abducted.

"Del Ponte hid the truth and left this information about the grave crimes committed against the kidnapped Serbs out, in this way helping the crime, although she received the list of names of those kidnapped and those who kidnapped them in 2001. She never arrested anyone and she must answer for this," Spasić said.

He believes it is impermissible to have a chief prosecutor do nothing, although she knew the names of the Serbs who were abducted in their land, in front of their homes and in their farms, to later have their organs removed and in the end be murdered.

"Del Ponte needs to explain why there were no convictions of the KLA leaders and why she never stopped it, the removal of organs from our loved ones, when she had information from many sources, Deutsche Welle, Sky News, BBC journalists, who said KLA was securing the transport of the kidnapped Kosovo Serbs to Albania," Spasić continued.

Del Ponte says in her book that she learned from a group of reliable journalists that some 300 Serbs were taken to Albania in the summer of 1999, after the end of the NATO bombing of Serbia and arrival of their forces in Kosovo. The victims had their organs removed and were then killed, the former prosecutor says.

But her office decided to drop the case since the investigation in Albania was "impossible to conduct".

In 2003, Del Ponte also traveled to the alleged sites of the crime, more details here.

At that time, Vladan Batić, the leader of the Demo-Christians (DHSS), today allied with the Liberal-Democrats (LDP), was the justice minister in the Zoran Đinđić government. Today, he says that should these claims prove to be true, the case will constitute for the most monstrous crime that must be made the Hague Tribunal's priority.

As the media reported the story this week, Serbia's War Crimes Prosecution confirmed they were earlier informed about the allegations, and announced they were now opening an investigation.

"While I was justice minister I gathered materials on the KLA crimes, along with my associates. We discovered a series of evidence that non-Albanians, mostly Serbs, were kidnapped in Kosovo, and we gave this evidence to the Hague Tribunal," Batić said in a written statement for FoNet news agency.

"What happened to those unfortunate people after the kidnappings, is stated in Carla Del Ponte's book 'The Hunt'," he added.

"If her allegations are true, then this is the most monstrous crime since the times of [Nazi] Mengele, and it must be made a priority, not only of the domestic judiciary, but also of the Hague Tribunal. Just as the crime in Srebrenica, that was done in our name by our other [sic] compatriots," the statement concluded.