THE HAGUE | 23.03.2005.

JUDGE MARINKOVIC’S VERSION OF THE RACAK CASE

Former judge of the Pristina District Court testifies about her investigations at the crime scene in Racak. Milosevic presents his version of the “liquidation of Adem Jashari’s terrorist group”

Through the testimony of Danica Marinkovic, former Pristina District Court judge, Slobodan Milosevic is trying to contest the evidence presented by the prosecution about the events in Racak on 15 January 1999.

After she was notified by the duty officers of the Pristina SUP that there had been a “clash between the police and the terrorists” in Racak and that it was “presumed there were victims”, Judge Marinkovic went to the scene to carry out an investigation, together with a public prosecutor, a crime scene technician and an inspector. When they arrived, the village was empty, there were no shell marks on the houses, and there were no troops in or around Racak, Judge Marinkovic testified today. The police that escorted them, the witness explained, found large quantities of weapons, ammunition and military equipment in the hills around the village. Then fire was opened on them from everywhere and Judge Marinkovic, her team and the escort left Racak.

Danica Marinkovic tried to get to Racak in the following two days, but was prevented by fire that was opened on them as they approached the village. As she returned after the failed attempt on 16 January, she says, she was surprised to see on TV that the head of the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) William Walker had been in Racak precisely at the time when fire had been opened on her. Even before she heard his statement that there had been a massacre in Racak, Judge Marinkovic “suspected something was not right”, as she said.

The next day, Danica Marinkovic had a “verbal conflict” with Karol Drewienkiewicz, the then deputy chief of the KVM, who suggested to her that she should go to Racak without uniformed and armed police, as their presence might be interpreted as a provocation by the villagers after the deaths of so many people and might lead them to fire on her team. Judge Marinkovic refused to do so. She did not manage to get into Racak on 17 January, despite her police escort, precisely what Drewienkiewicz had been warning her about.

Danica Marinkovic finally entered Racak with her team and police escort on 18 January. She saw the bodies of 40 victims – 39 men and one woman – in the village mosque. She ordered that they be transferred to Pristina to be autopsied. Pristina pathologists were assisted in autopsies by pathologists from Belarus and Finland. According to Judge Marinkovic, they all reached the same conclusion, that the injuries on the Racak victims had been inflicted by “firearms fired from a distance”.

The last third of Judge Marinkovic's testimony was devoted to the Racak incident. Before that, Milosevic insisted on questions aimed at contesting the allegations in the indictment that the KLA was established in “mid-nineties” and that in 1996 and 1997, the Serbian police responded to their attacks by “violent attacks”. According to Milosevic, investigations conducted by Judge Marinkovic show that the preparations for the establishment of the KLA had begun as early as in 1992, while the first “violent action” of the Serbian police, he claims, was carried out in March 1998 in Drenica. Milosevic described this action as a “liquidation of people suspected of being terrorists”, but then corrected himself. After Judge Bonomy asked the witness whether she agreed “with the characterization given by the accused”, Milosevic corrected himself and said that “this was not an action to liquidate, but to arrest Adem Jashari’s terrorist group, but they fired on the police and this resulted in the liquidation of the group.”