by Jelena BJELICA
Commander: "The local Albanians say that everything began when a police patrol leaving from Glodjane tried to stop and obtain the identification cards from two young men, Rasim Selmanaj, an activist of the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo, and another young man whose name is not mentioned. According to another version of the story, the police opened fire on Rasim and the other young man when they refused to stop. According to the official report of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) of Serbia, on March 24, 1998 at 10:45 a.m., an armed terrorist attack was carried out against a police patrol in the village of Dubrava, Decani municipality, Kosovo and Metohija," asserts the report of the Humanitarian Right Foundation (Fond za humanitarna prava - FHP) from May 1998. On that day, as confirmed by a KLA statement from May 1998, during "a successful operation against the occupier" near Glodjane, fighters Gazmend and Agron Mehmetaj and Him Haradinaj were killed. The police withdrew from the village at about 8:00 o'clock in the evening. After these clashes, the Kosovo Liberation Army took control of the village and established checkpoints at the entrance and exit from the village.
At the beginning of the same year, Ramush Haradinaj returned permanently from Switzerland to Kosovo and joined this Albanian paramilitary formation. His brother Daut was one of the key people of the KLA, responsible for its organization in the Metohija district. Daut was one of three members of the KLA who appeared for the first time in public in a village in Drenica at the funeral of a teacher killed by the Serbian police. At that funeral, he gave a speech in which he stated that the KLA officially existed. At the beginning of April, the command headquarters of the KLA, under the command of Hashim Thaci, appointed Ramush Haradinaj commander of the Metohija region. Haradinaj's headquarters was located in Glodjane, where he was born, according to the book "Stories of War and Freedom" by Bardh Hamzaj, the deputy editor-in-chief of the Pristina daily "Zeri", written as a conversation with Ramush Haradinaj.
Crimes: Not knowing that his father had been taken from his house, on the morning of April 22, 1998, Novak Stijovic headed for the village of Pozar with the intent of accompanying his father to Decani. Stanisa Radosevic and his mother Rosa went with him in search of Slobodan Radosevic (the father) who one day earlier had decided to remain in the village of Dasinovac with Milica and Milos Radunovic and look after his property after the KLA took control of the village. In the village of Pozar, they were stopped by a group of armed Albanians. In a statement made for FHP, Novak said: "There were about 30 of them; we recognized them. They pointed guns at us. They searched us and said that they had to take us to the headquarters in Glodjane. One of them held a gun pointed at my head. On the road to Rznici, there were 50-60 armed civilians every 50 meters; from Rznici to Glodjane, everyone was in uniform." All three were released later that same day but they were not allowed to go to Dasinovac to get Slobodan.
Almost all citizens who were stopped on any of the local roads in the spring of 1998 were taken to the headquarters in Glodjane. In the headquarters in Glodjane, members of the KLA applied well-known methods. "They took us to the headquarters in the house of Nasim Haradinaj, abandoned back in 1990; we had heard that the owners were living in Sweden," said Mijat Stojanovic in a statement for FHP. Stojanovic is the owner of the only non-Albanian house in Dubrava; on April 18 he was arrested in his house, together with his brother Dragoslav and cousin Veselin Stijovic, and they were taken to the headquarters. "We were forced to lie down on concrete. First they took Dragoslav into a small room where there were two chairs. There were two soldiers there and a third one interrogated him. Nemonaj Zici, whom I knew from before, ordered me to remove my clothes. Two of them beat me with clubs and rifle butts. This went on for approximately 40 minutes."
Lake: In the first half of September 1998 at least 39 bodies were discovered in various stages of decomposition in the general area of the village of Glodjane. The bodies were found at three different locations on a collective farm in the village of Rznici, in a canal leading to Radonjic Lake and near it, and proximate to the canal in the village of Dasinovac.
During the course of events, after yet another clash between members of the KLA and the [Yugoslav] army and [Serbian] police on September 8, 1998, during "pursuit after terrorists and a search of the district," as written in the official police report, 13 unidentified bodies of civilians of both sexes and various ages were discovered in the canal supplying Radonjic Lake.
The very next day the investigating judge of the District Court in Pec, Radomir Gojkovic, wrote a petition to the Institute for Forensic Medicine in Belgrade requesting the appointment of a group of experts for establishing the identity, causes and time of death and other data relevant for future activities in connection with the mass grave near Glodjane. In the meanwhile, the first phase of the search of the district, begun on September 11, uncovered at least 21 additional bodies. "During the first several days of the investigation the weather was dry, sunny and warm. Several days later it began to rain. The level of water in the canal rose significantly, carrying body parts, clothing and objects down the canal," in the report states. Several days later, five additional bodies were found. During the autopsy 12 of these bodies were identified. The bodies of the above-mentioned Radunovics and Radosevic, last seen at the end of April, were found near the canal in the village of Dasinovac. "Due to various stages of decomposition, it was not possible to establish the cause of death solely on the basis of the conducted autopsy. However, in 19 cases traces of wounds were found on the bones and there is no doubt that they were caused by bullets fired from small caliber weapons. In 24 cases traces of injuries inflicted by blunt objects were found; in two cases there were traces of sharp objects, while in three instances, according to the marks on the bones and clothes of the victims, they were exposed to high temperatures (bodies found in Dasinovac). Several objects on and near the bodies (metal wire and adhesive tape) suggest that some of the victims were first tied up and tortured," the autopsy report states. All the victims were killed during the period between April 1998 and the end of August of the same year, give or take a few days.
Epilogue: At the end of 1999 the chief prosecutor of the Hague tribunal, Carla del Ponte, announced that an investigation had been started regarding war crimes against the non-Albanian population in Kosovo. The investigation was almost completely blocked until recently because information was not forthcoming from either side, the spokeswoman of the prosecutor's office of the Hague tribunal, Florence Hartmann, told "Reporter". The new government in Serbia, according to Hartmann, has submitted all documentation to The Hague. "Indictments will be issued only against those persons against whom we have evidence," she explained. Zoran Zivkovic, the Yugoslav minister of internal affairs, told "Reporter" that "more than 30 kilograms of various documents were turned over to the head of the office of the Hague tribunal in Belgrade." In the meanwhile, the investigators of this tribunal have collected about 80 testimonials from family members of the missing and witnesses.
Despite increasingly frequent assertions [in Serbia] that Agim Ceku, Hashim Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj are under investigation by the Hague tribunal, Hartmann said that "the investigation is in progress"; however, she added that she "never confirmed that these three men are under investigation."