26.06.2007.

HOW DID THE BODIES GET TO RADONJIC LAKE CANAL?

Ramush Haradinaj’s defense counsel claims that the police, not the KLA, left the bodies in the Radonjic lake, in an effort to prove that the Serbian security services had access to the canal before 8 September 1998, the date when the bodies of the Serbs, Albanians and Roma were found that, according to the official version

Bogdan Tomas, an operative of the Serbian State Security Service, claims that the bodies of the Serbian, Albanian and Roma civilians were discovered in the Radonjic lake canal on 8 September 1998, and that the information leading to the discovery had come from an interrogation of two Kosovo Albanians by him and his colleague Dejan Jovovic. Testifying at the trial of Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, Tomas said that Zejnel Alija and Lul Musaj, were interrogated on 7 September in the Djakovica SUP, following their arrest for possession of arms and suspicion of being KLA members. The witness works in the State Security Service in Belgrade, and was sent to Djakovica “to help”.

The prosecution claims that the KLA is responsible for the death of the civilians whose bodies were found in the Radonjic lake canal. During the trial so far, the defense counsel of the three accused challenged that allegation, noting that the Serbian police could have brought the bodies to that location. That is why in the cross-examination today, Ramush Haradinaj’s defense counsel tried to prove that the Serbian police had had access to the Radonjic lake canal even before 8 September, when the bodies had been discovered according to the official version of the events.

Defense counsel Ben Emmerson put it to Tomas at the beginning of the cross-examination that the two Albanians in custody had been “beaten and abused for days” in the Djakovica police building, and forced to sign prepared statements. According to the defense counsel, when the Serbian police went to the lake canal, this was “just a show for the international community”. When the witness said that the suggestion “is not true”, Emmerson showed him statements Zejnel Alija and Lul Musaj gave to the defense investigators, in which they say they were mistreated and forced to sign things they did not say. The witness said he didn’t know what happened when the other police officers in the Djakovica police interrogated the two, but that they were not beaten during the interrogation he conducted. He stressed he was from the Belgrade State Security Centre, where “such methods are impermissible”.

In an effort to prove that the Serbian authorities knew there were bodies in the Radonjic lake canal even before 8 September, the defense counsel showed minutes from the meetings of the Joint Command of the Serbian military and police on 1 and 4 September 1998. It says in the minutes that there are indicia that the bodies of some 40 Serbs, Albanians and Roma were thrown into the canal, and orders are issued to search the terrain. The witness replied it was possible intelligence existed before about the bodies in the lake canal, but he maintained that the police did not go there before he took the statements from Alija and Musaj.

The trial of the three former KLA commanders will continue tomorrow, but the next prosecution witness failed to arrive in The Hague, despite the binding order to come and testify issued by the Chamber. The presiding judge indicated the Trial Chamber would soon notify the parties about the steps it intended to take in that regard.