HLC presents “The 549th Motorised Brigade of the Yugoslav Army” Dossier

On Wednesday, 20 March 2013, the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) presented the File on the 549th Motorised Brigade of the Yugoslav Army – a unit which was under the command of  Božidar Delić during the Kosovo conflicts.

Sandra Orlović, Executive Director of the HLC, said the File was intended to draw attention to the fact that large-scale crimes committed against Kosovo Albanian civilians in the municipalities of  Prizren, Đakovica/Gjakovë, Suva Reka/Suharekë and Orahovac/Rahovec have not been prosecuted. Ms Orlović drew special attention to the crime which occurred on 26 March 1999 in the village of Landovica, which resulted in the death of 17 Kosovo Albanian civilians.  On the said day, members of the 549th Motorised Brigade shelled Landovica, after which they moved into the village, torched the houses and blew up the local mosque. Ibish Morina and Haxhi Qarreti, residents of Landovica, testified via video link about what happened that day in Landovica, when members of the 549th Motorised Brigade killed several members of their family, including their underage children.

Milomir Matović, a HLC attorney who represents the victims and injured parties in the Ćuška and Tenja 2 Cases, spoke about the possibility of applying the command responsibility doctrine in Serbia, and noted that proof of Serbia’s ability to respond adequately to the legacy of grave crimes would depend on it. Mr Matović emphasized that Serbian judicial bodies have never fully applied the command responsibility doctrine for prosecuting war crimes committed during the 1990s, even though they are obliged to do so under the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (Protocol I) which SFR Yugoslavia ratified in 1979, the Guidelines on the Application of the Rules of International Humanitarian Law for the SFR Yugoslavia’ s armed forces of 1988, and the rules of customary international law.

The file depicts the activities of the 549th Motorised Brigade between 24 March and 10 June 1999 in its area of responsibility, covering the municipalities of Prizren, Đakovica/Gjakovë, Orahovac/Rahovec and Suva Reka/Suharekë. In the said period, members of Serbian forces killed 2,174 civilians, all of them Kosovo Albanians. The bodies of 459 victims were later found in mass graves in Serbia, while 375 victims are still unaccounted for.

You may download the file here.