New witness accounts of KLA torture camps
Source: B92, Beta
LONDON, BELGRADE, PRIŠTINA -- A former KLA prisoner, a Kosovo Albanian, has given the BBC an eye-witness account of the torture of Serbs, Albanians and Roma held in a camp in Kukes.
Vladimir Vukčević (Fonet, archive)
Serbs, Roma and Kosovo Albanians had been locked up, tortured and killed in northern Albania, the witness said. The source, who was also a prisoner, confirmed that organ harvesting and trafficking had also occurred in Albania.
Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukčević said that the resumption of domestic and international investigations depended on the visit to Belgrade of EU special rapporteur for these crimes, Dick Marty, which had yet to happen.
The BBC’s source, a Kosovo Albanian prisoner in the Kukes camp, gave accounts of the torture, murder and abduction of Serbs, Albanians and Roma.
According to an earlier investigation, kidnapping, torture and murders of Kosovo civilians, as well as the alleged trafficking of human organs, occurred in Albania during the 1998-1999 conflict in Kosovo, and particularly flourished after the arrival of international forces in June 1999.
“I saw a lot. I saw them beat and torture people. Some were not given food for five, six days, they would put vests on others, and then shoot them to make sure that the vests worked,” the witness recalled.
“I saw people pushed into graves, after being tortured and killed. The prisoners were Serbs, Roma and Kosovo Albanians. All of them were civilians,” he said.
The BBC found their second secret source in the Albanian town of Burrel.
Two former KLA members, who used to smuggle weapons, told BBC about how people were transported from Kosovo to Albania.
“I was told that I had to transport some people to Albania. There were three prisoners, civilians. Judging by the way they were dressed, I would say they were farmers. Their hands were tied,” the former KLA member described.
“When we took the first group from Kosovo to Burrel, I heard that they’d been examined by doctors there. They took their blood samples and asked if they had been tortured. That confused me. Why were they asking about their health? Then I heard something about how the prisoners or their kidneys were being transported to the airport. I heard that they were headed to Turkey,” he said.
Former KLA commander and former Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku said that he supported an investigation into these claims and that he was convinced that it would show that the KLA had been a clean army that had fought a clean war.
“Firstly, I was never in the area around Kukes during the war. I was in Kosovo the entire time. So I have no information and have not heard of anything like that. I personally do not believe that anything like that happened,” Ceku said.
Documents with witness testimony were given to the then head of the UNMIK Missing Persons Office, Jose Pablo Baraybar, and were published for the first time by B92.
The Serbian prosecution possesses similar witness statements.
“It’s significant that journalists got to the same information that we have, and it is important, because, by the nature of our job, we cannot make this information public, so it is good that someone else showed up to confirm what we already know,” Vukčević said.
BBC quoted Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, once the KLA political director, who denied the claims that the KLA had systematically tortured and killed Serb, Roma and disloyal Albanian civilians.
Vukčević said that Thaci’s statement was of little consequence.
“Everyone tries to hide what they have done. I do not think they are of much importance,” he said.
After the arrival of the international peacekeepers in Kosovo in 1999, some 1,000 non-Albanians disappeared from the territory, and it is presumed that some 300 were illegally transported to Albania.
Kosovo minister dismisses claims
Kosovo Justice Minister Nekibe Kelmendi has dismissed the allegations in certain Western media of crimes perpetrated by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
“The Kukes case is the same attempt as that ’yellow house’, while the aim is to divert attention and impede recognition of Kosovo’s independence,“ Kelmendi told Priština daily Koha Ditore following the BBC documentary screened yesteday.
She proposed that EULEX, which has an exclusive mandate for this, launch an investigation and shed light on the matter.
“Let’s see what happened. If something really did happen, then I’m sure that it’s an individual case,“ said the minister.
The daily states that EULEX has already launched an inquiry into the ’yellow house’ case in Burrel, in northern Albania, and that it will “quickly decide“ whether to open a new investigative procedure.
petak 10.04.2009 | 16:04 | Source: B92 | Comments: (11) | Send comment
LJUBLJANA -- EP rapporteur for Serbia Jelko Kacin has commended Serbia for progress in judicial reform, combating organized crime and cooperation with the Hague.
petak 10.04.2009 | 15:49 | Source: Beta | Comments: (2) | Send comment
PODGORICA -- Montenegrin Health Minister Miodrag Radunović is one of the most serious candidates for the post of ambassador to Serbia, Podgorica daily Dan writes.
petak 10.04.2009 | 13:44 | Source: Beta | Comments: (16) | Send comment
ROME -- The new U.S. administration, under Barack Obama, is showing greater openness to Serbia, says Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.
petak 10.04.2009 | 12:50 | Source: FoNet | Comments: (2) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- All commitments from the Interim Trade Agreement with the EU are being implemented according to plan, says the Government EU Integration Office.
petak 10.04.2009 | 10:50 | Source: B92 | Comments: (0) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- Parliament will resume work on Thursday, April 14, following a recess for the Gregorian Easter holidays.
petak 10.04.2009 | 10:31 | Source: B92 | Comments: (0) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- The govt.’s savings measures include pay cuts for MPs, while bonuses and expenses will be suspended for the duration of the crisis, says Mlađan Dinkić.
četvrtak 9.04.2009 | 16:34 | Source: Beta, Tanjug | Comments: (25) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- President Boris Tadić has emphatically condemned the theft of the Croatian flag from the country’s embassy in Belgrade.
četvrtak 9.04.2009 | 15:52 | Source: FoNet | Comments: (8) | Send comment
BRUSSELS -- Foreign ministers from eight EU member-states have called on the EC today to scrap visas for the Western Balkan countries without any further ado.
četvrtak 9.04.2009 | 15:06 | Source: FoNet | Comments: (21) | Send comment
SIRT -- Libya does not recognize the unilateral declaration of Kosovo independence and has no intention of doing so, says Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić.
četvrtak 9.04.2009 | 09:51 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (32) | Send comment
PRIŠTINA -- The Kosovo delegation has walked out of a meeting of CEFTA member-states in Podgorica because it was due to be represented through UNMIK.
sreda 8.04.2009 | 20:41 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (6) | Send comment
TRIPOLI -- Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić arrived Wednesday in Tripoli for a two-day official visit to Libya.
sreda 8.04.2009 | 16:49 | Source: B92 | Comments: (6) | Send comment
LJUBLJANA -- Defense and Energy Ministers Dragan Šutanovac and Petar Škundrić were in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Wednesday, meeting with senior officials.
sreda 8.04.2009 | 15:41 | Source: FoNet | Comments: (6) | Send comment
GRAČANICA -- The main problem with the Sustainable Survival and Return Strategy for the Kosovo Serbs is that it is unclear which ministry is in charge, says the Kosovo SNV.
sreda 8.04.2009 | 15:19 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (28) | Send comment
KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- Serbs from the Kosovska Mitrovica suburb of Brđani are protesting at the plans of a group of Albanians to begin rebuilding work on their homes there.
sreda 8.04.2009 | 14:04 | Source: Beta | Comments: (1) | Send comment
PRIŠTINA -- The Kosovo assembly has called a ceremonial session today to mark"the first anniversary of the adoption of the Kosovo constitution".
sreda 8.04.2009 | 13:14 | Source: FoNet | Comments: (1) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- Under the new Law on Political Parties, anyone wishing to form their own political party would have to collect 5,000 signatures, as opposed to the current 100.
sreda 8.04.2009 | 12:08 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (24) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Cameron Munter says relations between the U.S. and Serbia are on an upward curve and that, Kosovo aside, there are no open issues.
sreda 8.04.2009 | 09:36 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (0) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- Economy Minister Mlađan Dinkić says that the government’s new economic measures are just and fair.
utorak 7.04.2009 | 22:22 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (26) | Send comment
BEIJING -- China supports Serbia's endeavors to preserve her territorial integrity in Kosovo, Communist Party Politbureau member Liu Yandong said Tuesday.
utorak 7.04.2009 | 16:54 | Source: B92, FoNet, Beta, Blic, Tanjug | Comments: (2) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- The government has announced its plan for economic stability today, envisaging budget savings of EUR 1bn through more economical public administration.
utorak 7.04.2009 | 16:24 | Source: Beta | Comments: (19) | Send comment
PRIŠTINA -- Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci says that Kosovo has become a great place for foreign investment since it declared unilateral independence.
utorak 7.04.2009 | 16:03 | Source: B92, FoNet, Beta, Tanjug | Comments: (0) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- The opposition have lambasted the government’s latest savings measures, accusing it of resorting to populism in order to dodge the real problems.
utorak 7.04.2009 | 15:15 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (4) | Send comment
VIENNA -- President Boris Tadić met with Austrian counterpart Heinz Fischer in Vienna today, with the main topic of discussion Serbia's further EU integration.
utorak 7.04.2009 | 14:51 | Source: B92 | Comments: (28) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- The Defense Ministry has made plans to cut spending in accordance with the economic situation, says Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac.
utorak 7.04.2009 | 13:32 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (11) | Send comment
KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- Municipal presidents from northern Kosovo want UNMIK representatives to ensure that the return of displaced persons to Kosovska Mitrovica is “two-way“.
utorak 7.04.2009 | 12:26 | Source: Beta | Comments: (5) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- Democratic Party of Serbia deputy leader Slobodan Samardžić criticized yesterday the introduction of temporary measures in Peć and Priština municipalities.
utorak 7.04.2009 | 11:16 | Source: Beta | Comments: (9) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- EP Rapporteur for Serbia Jelko Kacin says Belgrade's full cooperation with the Hague Tribunal is necessary for its continued European integrations.
ponedeljak 6.04.2009 | 16:51 | Source: Beta | Comments: (10) | Send comment
WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed Philip Gordon to be his chief official in the State Department responsible for the Balkans.
ponedeljak 6.04.2009 | 16:28 | Source: Beta | Comments: (0) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- The Serbian parliament continued to debate nine ecology laws, which are one of the conditions for the country's future European integration.
ponedeljak 6.04.2009 | 13:32 | Source: FoNet, Blic | Comments: (0) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- The Serbian government has developed a new package of measures to tackle the economic crisis.
ponedeljak 6.04.2009 | 13:03 | Source: Beta | Comments: (50) | Send comment
PRIŠTINA -- Kosovo Albanian Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said that he believes Spain would "recognize Kosovo soon".
ponedeljak 6.04.2009 | 13:01 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (0) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- First Deputy PM and Interior Minister Ivica Dačić met on Monday in Belgrade with European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia Jelko Kacin.
ponedeljak 6.04.2009 | 12:09 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (1) | Send comment
PRAGUE -- The priority of Italy's plan for countries of the Western Balkans implies an imminent visa liberalization regime.
ponedeljak 6.04.2009 | 11:42 | Source: B92 | Comments: (7) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- Serbia can count on the financial supports of the U.S., after an agreement is reached regarding the case of Miladin Kovačević.
ponedeljak 6.04.2009 | 09:42 | Source: B92 | Comments: (13) | Send comment
PRIŠTINA -- EULEX will formally proclaim today that it is working in full capacity in Kosovo, and will present its new central headquarters in Priština.
ponedeljak 6.04.2009 | 09:40 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (3) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić will take part in a two-day forum "Alliance of Civilizations" which opens in Istanbul on Monday.
nedelja 5.04.2009 | 19:24 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (5) | Send comment
VALJEVO -- President Boris Tadić said Sunday that preserving national identity and tradition is the basis for Serbia's future.
nedelja 5.04.2009 | 17:16 | Source: B92, Tanjug | Comments: (25) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- Some 50 Boljevci residents last night prevented a group of Roma families evicted from their shanty town in New Belgrade from spending the night there.
nedelja 5.04.2009 | 17:11 | Source: Beta | Comments: (7) | Send comment
PRAGUE -- U.S. President Barack Obama today in Prague called on the EU "not to forget" the Western Balkans.
nedelja 5.04.2009 | 14:01 | Source: Beta | Comments: (16) | Send comment
PRIŠTINA -- EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has told Kosovo Albanian leaders to "forget about the possibility of Spain recognizing Kosovo".
nedelja 5.04.2009 | 12:17 | Source: Beta | Comments: (2) | Send comment
OSOJANE, BELGRADE -- Serb villages in Metohija, in western Kosovo, which were left without electricity for over a month, were reconnected to the power grid on Saturday.
nedelja 5.04.2009 | 11:05 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (5) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- Italy will not withdraw from the KFOR structure, nor will it reduce the number of its members in the NATO mission in Kosovo.
subota 4.04.2009 | 17:42 | Source: FoNet | Comments: (2) | Send comment
ČAČAK -- Infrastructure Minister Milutin Mrkonjić said in Čačak on Saturday that the government will debate a new draft law on traffic safety on Thursday.
subota 4.04.2009 | 14:02 | Source: Večernje novosti | Comments: (2) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- Despite problems with the Lisbon Treaty and the economic crisis, the EU is determined to support Serbia’s European future, Olli Rehn said.
subota 4.04.2009 | 12:42 | Source: FoNet, Blic | Comments: (0) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- Two ruling coalition parties have seen their relationship deteriorate with attempts to define measures to fight the economic crisis.
subota 4.04.2009 | 12:13 | Source: Beta | Comments: (3) | Send comment
BRUSSELS -- EU Security and Foreign Policies Chief Javier Solana met in Brussels with Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci to discuss relations between the EU and Kosovo.
subota 4.04.2009 | 12:13 | Source: Danas | Comments: (27) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- Serbia joining NATO is a matter of a national decision, and only Serbia can provide an answer to that question, says Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
subota 4.04.2009 | 11:26 | Source: B92 | Comments: (19) | Send comment
BELGRADE -- Pope Benedict XVI was invited to Serbia, but he will not be able to visit unless the invitation is approved by the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC).