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VNf 17.2.2009 11:21

1999: Serb terrorists charged over Krusha massacre

Albanian witness: Police killed 103 people

THE HAGUE -- A prosecution witness told the Hague trial of Vlastimir Đorđević that local police killed more than 100 Albanian men in Mala Kruša, Kosovo, in late March 1999.

Lufti Ramadani testified yesterday that the victims had included two of his sons, aged 14 and 27, his brother, and nephew.

General Đorđević, then chief of the Serbian Public Security Department and deputy interior minister, is charged with the forced relocation, deportation, murder and persecution of Albanian civilians in Kosovo during the first six months of 1999.

The witness described how Serbian police, some of whom he knew and mentioned by name, had forced 109 Albanian townspeople into a barn owned by the Batush family in Mala Kruša on March 26, 1999.

“I heard one police officer outside ask another why he was late, and he answered, ‘I’ll finish that now.’ He began shooting at us in the barn and the shooting didn’t stop until their bullets were spent. Then they lit fire to the barn and people began to burn. The fire reached me as well, but I managed to get out of the barn and escape,” said Ramadani.

He said that another five men had survived the carnage.

Ramadani testified that while fleeing, he saw five Serbian policemen and civilians, the same ones he had earlier recognized and named, speaking not far from the barn.

The witness stated that the victims had included 14 boys under the age of 15, two mentally retarded individuals and two handicapped men.

He said that the bodies of the victims were not discovered because the barn was later destroyed in an explosion.

According to Ramadani, the day before, on March 25, 1999—just one day after the beginning of the NATO air strikes on Serbia—Mala Kruša had been surrounded by Yugoslav Army tanks and armored vehicles, and police had come into the town shooting, stealing and setting fire to homes.

The Albanian inhabitants fled from the town into a nearby forest, but most returned to their houses during the night because of the cold.

Ramadani said that on the morning of March 26, police had divided the men from a large group of townspeople, including him and his family, and ordered the women and children to “go to Albania.” The police then shepherded the men into the barn, he said.

Having been questioned by the prosecution, Ramadani was then cross-examined by Đorđević’s defense counsel.

Ora në Shqipëri është 14:33.

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