NGO accuses army chief of war crimes
The Humanitarian Law Center (FHP) NGO says it possess documents which indicate that Army chief General Ljubisa Dikovic is "directly responsible for war crimes."Source: B92, Beta, N1
As was announced at a press conference to present "Dossier Rudnica," Dikovic is responsible for the crimes committed in the villages of Rezala and Staro Cikatovo and for hiding bodies in a mass grave in Raska.
The dossier, among other things, provides insight into the data and evidence on the four crimes of VJ and MUP committed in April and May 1999 in Kosovo, in which civilians were killed - Kosovo Albanians whose bodies were exhumed from a mass grave in Rudnica in 2014, and the process of "sanitation of the battlefield" in which the bodies of the victims had been taken from the crime scene, and then hidden for 15 years.
The FHP stated that the document was created on the basis of authentic military and police documents, statements by survivors of the crime, family members of victims, forensic reports, testimonies of VJ and MUP officials before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and other relevant material.
Executive Director of the FHP Sandra Orlovic urged the prosecution for war crimes to as soon as possible launch an investigation into war crimes in Kosovo which are associated with the mass grave near Raska where the bodies were found of 52 civilians.
She added that it is important to find out who the people who were killed are, who is responsible for these crimes, who and in what way transported and hid the bodies in mass graves in Serbia and characterized the act as "an extended crime toward the victims and their families."
As stated, the FHP has obtained data that clearly indicate involvement in the crimes committed in Kosovo in the villages Rezala, Staro Cikatovo, Donja Zabela and Gladno Selo of members of the 37th Motorized Brigade of the Yugoslav Army, headed by the Dikovic.
Orlovic said that the testimony of survivors and written and publicly available documents indicate that parts of the 37th Brigade were present in the four villages during the crime in April and May 1999.
Orlovic stated that the documents show official institutions and military and police authorities of Serbia were involved in the transportation and hiding of the bodies after the crime.
Representative of the NGO Milica Kostic said that the crimes in the four villages in Kosovo took place according to the established "principle of the Yugoslav Army" and that the army entered the village early in the morning, expelling women and children to Albania and killing the men.
The representative of the Prosecution for War Crimes Jasna Jankovic said that the prosecution is working to identify the bodies found in a mass grave and that was the beginning of the preliminary investigation. She added that the aim of the prosecution was to discover those responsible for these crimes.
The Prosecution in May 2010 revealed "a potential mass grave" at the location Rudnica near Raska where, according to witnesses, 250 bodies of Kosovo Albanians killed between 1998 and 1999 were located. 52 bodies were found and handed over to EULEX.
The FHP first went public with the same accusation against Dikovic in January 2012. Natasa Kandic was the director of the NGO at the time.
The FHP then stated that Ljubisa Dikovic was responsible for war crimes in Kosovo during 1998 and 1999, when he was the commander of the 37th Motorized Brigade of the Yugoslav Army units that operated in the area of Drenica.
The website of the FHP published the document "Dossier Dikovic Ljubisa" which states that he "does not have a clean war past."
"Although he had a duty to prevent crimes, Dikovic did not do that, and there is evidence that testifies to ruthless pillaging of Albanian property, in which he himself participated," Natasa Kandic claimed.
The War Crimes Prosecution announced at the time there was no basis to suspect criminal responsibility of Dikovic.
Then Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac said that the accusations were unfounded.
Sutanovac said at the time that the dossier of the FHP was in certain segments not only inappropriate but also the "monstrous" and that he expected Dikovic to seek protection in court.
Dikovic filed a lawsuit against Kandic because of the accusations presented against him.
It is not known how and whether the process finished.