"Del Ponte received data on mass graves"

BELGRADE -- The former head of the Coordinating Center for Kosovo has stepped into the row over mass graves and prisons in Kosovo.

Nebojša Čović (FoNet, archive)
Nebojša Čović (FoNet, archive)

Nebojša Čović said that seven years ago, Serbian authorities presented the Hague Prosecution a list of locations of potential mass graves and secret prisons in Kosovo and northern Albania.

In an interview with Serbian Radio Television (RTS), Čović said that they had never received a reply from former Hague Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte concerning the material the Serbian security services had prepared.

“The only answer was that KFOR did not want to cooperate, that some data had been lost when the first contingent of KFOR troops had left Kosovo, and that UNMIK refused to cooperate, which I was also assured of,” he said.

Čović said that Del Ponte had never raised that issue, and said that the fact that she had mentioned the case in her book “Hunt - Me and War Criminals” represented an attempt at “biography laundering.”

The former coordinator believed that, by doing so, she was trying “to solve the problems linked to her guilty conscience,” and that it was probably some kind of a marketing move to boost sales of her book.

In the book, Del Ponte says that Hague Tribunal investigators and UNMIK officials received information that in the summer of 1999, Kosovo Albanians had put over 300 hostages in trucks and transported them across the border to northern Albania, where their organs were taken out and sold.

In an interview with Frankfurt News yesterday, former Hague Tribunal spokeswoman Florence Hartmann said that Čović could confirm Del Ponte’s claims because, she stressed, he had been present when she had asked for the information.

Hartmann added that the former prosecutor had tried to push the inquiry forward, but that UNMIK had not cooperated.

UNMIK spokesman Alexander Ivanko dismissed Hartmann’s allegations, adding that UNMIK had always cooperated with the Hague Tribunal.

The Belgrade District Court’s War Crimes Chamber has received an application to launch an investigation to corroborate claims of possible war crimes and the sale of human organs in 1999, the Court confirmed yesterday.