Human rights violations committed in Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac from the period of the NATO bombing to the granting of an amnesty to former soldiers of the Liberation Army of Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac

According to HLC information[1], between January 1st, 1999 and May 21st, 2001 when an amnesty was granted to former soldiers of the Liberation Army of Preševo, Medveđa, and Bujanovac (LAPMB), at least 40 citizens of Serbia and Montenegro died in the municipalities of Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac. During the NATO bombing at least 11 ethnic Albanians were killed in these municipalities in circumstances that have not yet been clarified.

During the internal armed conflict between the forces of the Yugoslav Army/Republic of Serbia Ministry of Interior forces and the LAPMB, between January 26th, 2000 and August 31st, 2001, two Serb civilians went missing in Bujanovac and their fates have not yet been clarified. A further two Serb civilians went missing in Gnjilane/Gjilan, Kosovo, and their bodies were found in Donja Breznica. At least seven ethnic Albanian civilians were killed, as was the Commander of LAPMB who signed the ceasefire treaty on March 13th, 2001 and the Declaration on the Demilitarization of the LAPMB on May 21st, 2001.


A great number of Yugoslav Army forces were deployed in Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac municipalities during the NATO bombing. After the Kumanovo Agreement was signed on June 9th, 1999, they were joined by additional forces from the Yugoslav Army and the Serbian Ministry of Interior. During the years of 2000 and 2001, members of the 7th Battalion of the Yugoslav Army and the Special Operations Unit were deployed there and were responsible for a number of violations of international humanitarian law committed against ethnic Albanians in the villages in the municipalities. No one has been indicted so far for the murders, inhumane treatment and looting of ethnic Albanian property. The LAPMB appeared for the first time at the funeral of the Shaqipi brothers on January 26th, 2000. The LAPMB had its headquarters and had established a camp for Serbs, in the village of Donja Breznica, on the territory of Kosovo.


  1. Driton Arifi from the village of Ranatovce, in the municipality of Preševo, died on April 4th, 1999 as a consequence of firearm wounds inflicted on him by members of the Yugoslav Army/Ministry of Interior forces, earlier the same day. A pathologist from Vranje conducted his autopsy.
  2. Ruzhdi Arifi from the village of Bihać was killed on April 18th, 1999 while the Yugoslav Army were present in the village. The family found his bones and clothes in the forest. Traces of gunshots were visible on his clothing.
  3. Members of the Yugoslav Army killed Rahim Fejzuli and his son Ibrahim on May 19th, 1999 in the village of Gospođince. They beat Rahim to death in front of his family. Soldiers took Ibrahim towards the stream and gunshots were heard later on from that direction. The family reported the murders to the police in Preševo, but the police did not come to the crime scene to conduct an investigation.
  4.  Fetah Fetahu, a taxi driver from Bujanovac was murdered on July 31st, 1999 on the road to Gnjilane/Gjilan.  The police conducted an investigation.
  5. The Director of the Midjeni elementary school in Muhovac, Qemal Mustafa, was murdered on January 17th, 2000 on the road between the village of Đorđevac and Muhovac. He was also the vice-president of the Socialist Party of Serbia in Bujanovac.
  6. Brothers Shaip and Isa Shaqipi were murdered on January 25th, 2000 on the edge of the village of Dobrašin in the direction of the village of Lučane as they were gathering firewood. Shaip and Isa’s father heard gunshots and then met a group of police officers who came from the direction in which his sons had gone. He immediately called the Mayor of Bujanovac expressing his fear that something might have happened to his sons. He found his sons with a great number of gunshot wounds lying on a tractor in the forest, near the road to Lučane.
  7.  The owner of the gas station in Preševo, Nebi Nuhiu, was kidnapped on February 2nd, 2000 by four young men. They arrived in a Mercedes and an Audi. They told Nebi’s daughter that they were taking him to the Bujanovac  Secretariat of Internal Affairs (SUP) and that they would bring him back soon. He has been missing without trace since then. In May 2001, the Vranje SUP arrested two police officers because “they had deceived the family, giving them a false promise that Nebi would be handed over in return for 160,000 German Marks.” The HLC has no information about whether they have been convicted. No one has been indicted for the kidnapping of Nebi Nebihu. His remains have not yet been found.
  8. Ejup Asani was murdered on February 12th, 2000 in the village of Letovica, in the municipality of Bujanovac. His killers who were wearing masks, took him out of his house to a place some 200 meters away and killed him with firearms.
  9. Bahri Musliu from the village of Vraban was found dead on March 13th, 2000 in the vicinity of the Serb village of Levosoj.
  10. Destan Adili from Veliki Trnovac was found dead on March 13th, 2000 on the road between Veliki Trnovac and Breznice. The family filed a criminal complaint with the Office of the Prosecutor in Vranje. Prosecutors informed the family several months later that it was unlikely that they would initiate criminal proceedings.
  11. An elderly man Vlada Miletić and his daughter went missing on June 21st, 2000. Bullet cases and traces of blood were found in their house in the village of Mali Trnovac. They were the only Serbs in the village. Police arrested some ten Ethnic Albanians, who were neighbors of Vlada and Persa Miletić. They were released after one of Vlada’s daughters gave a statement in which she said that “she does not believe that her father and sister were killed by Ethnic Albanians from the village because they had always helped them”.
  12. Zoran Tomić from the village of Lopardince, in the municipality of Bujanovac, and his cousin Goran Stanković from the village of Domorovce, in the municipality of Gnjilane/Gjilan disappeared on August 12th, 2000 in the village of Odanovce in the municipality of Kamenica, in Kosovo, where they had gone on their tractor to buy some petrol. The bones of Zoran Tomić were found by the Yugoslav Army in the quarry in the village of Breznica in December 2001. Pathologists from the Republic of Serbia found the bones of Goran Stanković at the same location in December 2004. It was established by  DNA analysis that the bones belonged to these individuals. According to a statement given by the brother of Goran, to the HLC in October 2005, the District Court in Vranje initiated an investigation on January 15th, 2004 into Shefqet Musliu and Jakupi Lirim. The HLC has no information on the outcome of the case, but as yet, no one has been charged with the murder of Zoran Tomić and Goran Stanković.
  13. Ridvan Qazimi was killed by a sniper on May 24th, 2001 in the vicinity of the village of Lučane, three days after the amnesty was granted to soldiers of the Liberation Army of Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac (LAPMB). The shots came from the direction where forces of the Yugoslav Army/Ministry of Interior were stationed.


According to information from the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia, published on their web site until late 2001,[2]  between June 10th, 1999 and August 31st, 2001, on the territory of the Ground Security Zone [Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa] five Serbs, four ethnic Albanians, and one person of a third nationality were killed. The Ministry of Interior also stated that during this period 24 members of the Yugoslav Army/Serbian Ministry of Interior had been killed and that two members of the 7th Battalion of the Yugoslav Army had been kidnapped, but later released by the LAPMB following mediation by KFOR, while the fate of four kidnapped Serbs has not yet been clarified.[3]  According to information from the Committee for Human Rights in Bujanovac published in that organization’s report for the year of 2000, in the armed conflicts with the forces of Yugoslav Army/Serbian Ministry of Interior, nine members of the LAPMB lost their lives, 11 ethnic Albanian civilians were killed and two ethnic Albanians and three Serbs were kidnapped.


As well as information on killings, the HLC also has information on a number of cases of abuse of ethnic Albanian farmers by members of the Yugoslav Army, in particular, members of the 7th Battalion, and the Serbian Ministry of Interior, and on the abuse of kidnapped members of the 7th Battalion and Serb civilians in the camp in Donja Breznica.

  1. Members of the Special Operations Unit beat Januz Rashiti, a local government employee at the Bujanovac Municipal Assembly, on March 1st, 2001 in front of his family in the village of Turije, taking him first to their base in Levosoje and then to the Bujanovac SUP. He was released following intervention by the Chief of the Coordination Body for Kosovo, Nebojša Čović. On the same day, members of the Special Operations Unit abused several other ethnic Albanians in the village of Turije.
  2.  Arife Avdiu stayed in the village of Buštranje/Bushtranë during the NATO bombing while her family took refuge in Macedonia. On an unidentified day during the month of April 1999, a group of Yugoslav Army soldiers came into her house and they mistreated the old lwoman after finding she had no money or gold. One soldier kicked her with his boot in the head and then inflicted several wounds on her body with a knife. He threw her on the floor believing she was dead. She was rescued by a Serb neighbour, a member of the Ministry of Interior, who found her and took her to hospital in Bujanovac. Arife lost her eyesight because of  the injuries she sustained.
  3. The LAPMB detained Suzana, Stojanča, and Nebojša, Petrović and Dragan Ilić from the village of Donje Žabsko, in the municipality of Vranje, on March 4th, 2001 in Veliki Trnovac and then transferred them to an illegal prison in Donja Breznica. They were kept in this and other prisons for a total of 41 days and during their detention they were submitted to beatings aimed at forcing them to admit that they were spies sent by the government to plant a bomb in the mosque in Veliki Trnovac. They were released thanks to the mediation of KFOR.
  1. Members of the LAPMB detained Milija Bjelojica and Saša Bulatović, soldiers of the 7th Battalion of the Yugoslav Army, on March 21st, 2001 on the road from Bujanovac to Veliki Trnovac. They were detained for 30 days in the LAPMB prison in Donja Breznica. They were released thanks to the mediation of KFOR. Signs of beatings were visible on them.


[1] Albanians in Serbia, HLC, 2003, Fate of Serbs and Other Non-Albanians in Kosovo, HLC report, November 2005

[2] Albanians in Serbia , HLC, 2003

[3] The remains of Zoran Tomić were found in December 2001 and those of Goran Stanković in December 2004. The fates of Vlada and Persa Miletić have not yet been clarified.