Criminal Report against Officers and Members of YA and MUP on account of Crime Committed Against 78 Kosovo Albanians

Criminal Report against Officers and Members of YA and MUP on account of Crime Committed Against 78 Kosovo Albanians

logo_fhp_postThe Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) has filed a criminal complaint against six identified officers and members of the 125th Motorized Brigade of the Yugoslav Army (125th YA MtBr), the Commander of the 24th Detachment of the Special Police Units (SPU), a number of unidentified members of the YA and the 24th Detachment of the SPU, owing to the reasonable suspicion that they ordered or executed the murder of 78 men – Kosovo Albanians – in the village of Kraljane (the Municipality of Đakovica) on April 4th, 1999. Among the accused are Dragan Živanović, the then Commander of the 125th YA MtBr,  Žarko Braković, the then Commander of the 24th Detachment of the SPU, Đorđe Nikolić, the Chief of Staff of the Command of the 125th YA MtBr, and Robert Šmajcelj, the Deputy Commander of Combat Group 5 of the 125th YA MtBr.

Members of the 125th YA MtBr and the 24th Detachment of the SPU entered Kraljane on April 2nd, 1999. They found several thousands of Albanian civilians, residents of the village or refugees from a number of villages in the Municipality of Klina, next to the building of the local elementary school. The civilians who were gathered there hoisted a white sheet as a sign of surrender to members of the Serbian forces and then started leaving the village on tractors and on foot. When the convoy with refugees arrived at the exit of the village in the direction of Đakovica/Gjakovë, unidentified members of Combat Group 5 of the 125th YA MtBr and the 24th Detachment of the SPU started separating the men from the women and children, all the while beating, offending and cursing them. They took the men to the meadow on the right side of the road, and ordered the women and children to carry on towards Albania. They separated a total of 500 men. Soon after this, members of Combat Group 5 of the 125th YA MtBr and the 24th Detachment of the SPU took them to another meadow by a creek. There, they ordered them to take off their upper body garments and place their hands behind their heads. Members of the Serbian forces surrounded the meadow containing the detainees with tanks and armoured vehicles. During the night of April 2nd and the early morning of April 3rd, 1999, unidentified members of Combat Group 5 of the 125th YA MtBr and the 24th Detachment of the SPU wounded two of the detained men. All the men spent the entire night in the rain without food or water.

The following day, April 3rd, 1999, at around 9:00, two unidentified YA soldiers ordered the men to hand over their money, telling them that they would be released after doing this. One of the detained men collected some 10,000 DEM from the others and handed this money to the soldiers. Around 19:30, two military trucks arrived at the meadow and members of the Serbian forces ordered the oldest men and the two wounded men into the trucks. They were then transported to Đakovica.

The following day, namely April 4th, 1999, at around 9:30, Major Grujić (first name not known) arrived at the meadow and said to the detainees: “You are going to Albania, because you want America, not us.” He told them that they would all be set free and that they could go to Albania. Several minutes later, several unidentified YA soldiers ordered the detained men to sit on the ground, after which they started separating the young men from the middle-aged and older men. The older men were ordered to get into the trucks. Major Grujić told them that the young men would join them after they had covered the trenches dug by the Kosovo Liberation Army in the nearby forest. As the older men were leaving this place, they heard a burst of gun fire from the location where members of Combat Group 5 of the 125th YA MtBr and the 24th Detachment of the SPU were keeping the 78 young men who had been detained.

The bodies of 17 men who had been detained on April 4th, 1999 by members of Combat Group 5 of the 125th YA MtBr and the 24th Detachment of the SPU in Kraljane, were found in 2001 in a mass grave near Lake Perućac, the Municipality of Bajina Bašta. The bodies of eight men were exhumed at the cemetery in the village of Brekovac near Đakovica. The bodies of 53 men who were detained by Combat Group 5 of the 125th YA MtBr and the 24th Detachment of the SPU are still missing. 11 of the detained men were juveniles. The two youngest boys were 15 years old.

Strictly confidential documents of the YA undoubtedly point to the presence of the 125th YA MtBr and the 24th Detachment of the SPU in Kraljane at the time when the crime was committed, that is, on April 4th, 1999. YA documents indicate that the killed civilians were detained by the 125th YA MtBr soldiers and that the civilians were held under their control.

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