THE HAGUE | 24.03.2005.

“TERRORISTS” ON THE LIST OF VICTIMS FROM RACAK

On the list with 40 names of victims from Racak, Milosevic’s defense witness Danica Marinkovic today “identified” seven who were, as she claims, KLA members.

The victims from Racak were not civilians, but “members of a terrorist gang”, claims Danica Marinkovic, Slobodan Milosevic’s defense witness. Former investigating judge from the Pristina District Court reached this conclusion, as she explained today, on the basis of an investigation she conducted on the scene of the crime on 15 and 18 January 1999, and on the basis of reports made by the Urosevac police and the records of interviews with Kosovo Albanians suspected of terrorism. On the list with 40 names of victims from Racak, Milosevic’s defense witness Danica Marinkovic today “identified” seven who were, as she claims, KLA members.

The prosecution is not contesting that there were KLA members in Racak and that some of them died in the attack launched by the Serbian security forces on 15 January 1999. Prosecution witness Shukri Buja, the then commander of the Nerodimlje operational zone confirmed in his testimony that in January 1999 there had been 47 KLA soldiers and “auxiliary personnel” in Racak and that ten of them had been killed in the attack. When the Serbian police pulled out in the early evening of 15 January, the KLA returned to Racak and took away the bodies of the ten soldiers that had been killed. They were later buried with military honors in the village of Malopoljce. According to his testimony, only the civilians’ bodies remained in the village.

Milosevic and Judge Marinkovic are challenging that argument. They claim that “there were no civilians” in the village at all on 15 January 1999, and that Racak had been turned into a “terrorist stronghold”. Judge Marinkovic admits that the 40 bodies she saw in the village mosque on 18 January were dressed in civilian clothes, but some of them, she claims, had trousers and heavy boots similar in style to those worn by the army and “identical leather belts.” In Pristina, where the bodies were brought to be autopsied, gunshot residue tests were carried out on the hands of the deceased. According to Judge Marinkovic, it was positive in 37 cases, which means that those people had fired shots. In the course of the prosecution case, several international experts noted that this type of gunshot residue test had been abandoned more than fifty years ago because of its unreliability.

Through Judge Marinkovic, Milosevic tendered into evidence the record of the on-site investigation carried out in May 1999 in the Dubrava prison near Istok by investigating Judge Vladan Bojic from the Pec District Court. According to the indictment and prosecution witnesses, on 22 May 1999, the police killed about 150 Albanian prisoners with firearms and hand grenades. According to Milosevic and Judge Bojic, those prisoners were killed in NATO air strikes that lasted several days.

The trial of Slobodan Milosevic was adjourned today until 6 April, when Judge Marinkovic will be cross-examined by prosecutor Geoffrey Nice.