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B92 Focus, December 2004.


Patriotism or perverting justice?

Secret police in Kosovo cover-up
| December 30, 2004.

Belgrade’s Humanitarian Law Centre is relentless in its pursuit of justice for the victims of crimes and the uncovering of crimes committed by the state. Centre Director Natasa Kandic caused a storm this week, accusing senior government figures and senior police officials of orchestrating a cover-up of Kosovo war crimes. We reproduce here the full text of Kandic’s statement.

Belgrade, December 23, 2004 -- The cover-up of the war crimes committed in Kosovo in 1998 and during the NATO bombardments was, above all, a police activity carried out by the most trustworthy men of the late head of Ministry of Interior Affairs of Serbia, Vlajko Stojiljkovic, of the former President of the Government of Serbia, Nikola Sainovic, of the one time head of the Public Security, Vlastimir Djordjevic, and the former head of the State Security, Rade Markovic. In the south of Serbia, the trustworthy person was Dragomir Tomic, a high official of the Government and the Parliament of Serbia at the time of Slobodan Milosevic, the owner of Simpo Company today, whose understanding and support were essential for the organization and transport of the corpses from Kosovo to the area of Vranje and Surdulica. In the implementation of this "patriotic duty", from Kosovo via Bujanovac, members of the Special Operations Unit [Red Berets], local heads and chiefs of the State Security, and the director of the Mackatica factory, its owner today, took part.

In Surdulica, everybody knows that, in the said factory, during NATO bombardment, corpses from Kosovo were incinerated. However, nobody dares speak about it in public because all those who took part in it are still in power. In order to prevent the eyewitnesses from speaking in public, the local chiefs of the State Security had forced them to sign statements about the "peace of mind" wherein they had allegedly declared that "they feel no psychological pressure to speak about what had happened" in Mackatica in May 1999. While the eyewitnesses are in fear for the lives of their children and for their own lives, the union of those who had issued orders for, and those who had taken part in, the cover-up of the crimes, is still, without hindrance, engaged in its basic activity - the plunder of Serbia and its citizens, the activity they had been engaged in even prior to the incineration of the corpses. In every other country they would have been under the scrutiny of the organs of investigation and of the courts, except for Serbia, where the criminal activities of the groups and individuals inside institutions are known as patriotism and the fight for the Serbian people. Despite the fact that Serbia had not distanced itself from the policy and the criminal practice of the former regime, it has no other option but to submit to the basic principles of responsibility of a state which indicates opening of a parliamentary debate on the mass graves in Serbia, initiation of investigations concerning the alleged incineration of the bodies of the Kosovo Albanians and the punishment of the members of the police and all others who took part in it.

According to the data received by the Humanitarian Law Centre from a number of independent sources, the incineration of the bodies in the Mackatica factory occurred twice, on May 16 and 24, 1999, after midnight, with the security provided by the Red Berets who, at the time, had a base in the village of Bele Vode, near Vranje. According to those data, Milorad Lukovic Legija, the then commander of the Red Berets, had personally accompanied a load of corpses and was present at the incineration. The bodies were incinerated in the "field furnaces" Nos. 4 and 5. Judging by the comments in the State Security in Surdulica, immediately after the incineration, there had been children among the victims.

The receipt and the organization of the incineration of the corpses were carried out by Zoran Stosic, the then head of the State Security for the Pcinja District, today inspector general of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Serbia for Vranje, Leskovac, Nis and Prokuplje, Bratislav Milenkovic, the chief of the Security and Information Agency [SIA] for Vladicin Han, Surdulica and Bosiljgrad, Dragan Stankovic, the head of the Office of Interior Affairs in Surdulica since 1993, Miroslav Antic, the head of SIA in Vranje, Dragan Lakicevic, who used to be the director if the Mackatica factory and who is, today, the owner of the said factory, and his deputy, Aca Djordjevic.

At the time the TAM 110 military vehicles with the corpses were arriving, Bratislav Milenkovic and Dragan Stankovic removed the regular security of the factory and posted the police security, under the control of Dragan N. Stankovic, Dragoslav Djikic, an employee of the State Security in Surdulica, and Tomislav Velickovic, the commanding officer of the Office of Interior Affairs in Surdulica.

In connection with the events in Mackatica, a number of eyewitnesses forced to sign the "peace of mind" statements and individuals who had learned about what had been happening, contacted the members of the police they had trust in, hoping that an energetic action aimed at an elucidation of the event would ensue. Instead, they were, at the local level, warned not to do that again.

According to the information received by the Humanitarian Law Centre, the decision on the use of the Mackatica factory to incinerate the bodies was prompted by the discovery of the refrigerator truck with corpses near Kladovo, in April 1999. Then the people charged with the "restoration" of the terrain revoked the order to bury the bodies transported from Kosovo via Bujanovac in some inaccessible locations and introduced a new technique of destroying the evidence by incineration.

In connection with the criminal activities of the chiefs of police and the heads of the State Security in Surdulica and Vranje, in September 2004, a group of unsigned citizens submitted a complaint to the Inspector General of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Serbia, Vladimir Bozovic, to the director of SIA of Serbia, Rade Bulatovic, to the Minister of Interior Affairs, Dragan Jocic, and the President of the Government of Serbia, Vojislav Kostunica, with the evidence on the abuse of authority. Until this day, nobody has commented on this evidence which, with the information about racketeering, embezzlement, fictitious payments, illegally acquired property and other types of criminal activities including the incineration of the State Security documentation, elucidates the role of the "patriots" and the fighters for the Serbian people at the time of NATO bombardment and following the removal of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic.

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