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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 16:02 GMT
Milosevic trial hears new Kosovo horrors
Slobodan Milosevic
Prosecutors want to establish Milosevic's responsibility for the crimes
A Kosovo Albanian witness has told the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague he saw massacres, burnings and piles of mutilated bodies during the Serb campaign in the province.

"Young people had their eyes struck out and they cut out parts of their bodies" Sabit Kadriu told the court. "It was really terrible."

Mr Kadriu is a witness for the prosecution in the trial against the former Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic, who faces charges of crimes against humanity and other war crimes during the Kosovo conflict.

He described seeing killings, burnings and deportations when he visited villages in north-western Kosovo ahead of the Nato bombing campaign in 1999.

The prosecution aims to show that Mr Milosevic bore direct responsibility for atrocities carried out by Serb forces.

Deportations

Europe's biggest war crimes trial since the end of World War II began on 12 February, and is expected to last two years.


Slobodan Milosevic
Milosevic charges
  • Genocide
  • Crimes against humanity
  • Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions
  • Violations of the laws or customs of war

    Click here for a full list of charges

  • Mr Milosevic declined to plead, leading judges to enter a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

    After initially refusing to co-operate with the tribunal, he has been vigorously cross-examining witnesses.

    Mr Kadriu, who is a teacher and human rights activist, said most of the villages in the region were devastated, and up to 90% of the houses burned.

    Local residents were killed. He said one group of four bodies he saw had had their throats slit.

    "They had been hit on the head with a hammer and their brains were scattered all around," he added.

    He said his own village, Vucitirn, was looted and burned by Serb soldiers.

    "They set a 17th Century mosque on fire, shouting Allah Allah as the flames rose," he said.

    He said he was herded into a convoy of 1,000 people and pushed towards the Albanian border, but broke off to take refuge in a village held by the Kosovo Liberation Army.

    Interrogation

    On a separate occasion, in May 1999, he said he was fired on when he was part of a convoy of civilians.

    "It was dark when the shooting began... We heard grenades, children crying, I shall never forget that, 109 people were killed that night," he said.


    They told us to run towards the border and not look back

    Sabit Kadriu
    He said the survivors of the shooting were taken away for interrogation then put into prison.

    "We were lined up with our hands tied behind our heads and forced to kneel down," Mr Kadriu said.

    "The prison wardens then hit us on the back with rods".

    His group was later taken to the Albanian border.

    "They told us to run towards the border and not look back," he said.

    High-profile testimony

    The trial is hearing testimony about Mr Milosevic's alleged crimes in Kosovo before it begins to consider the indictments against him over the Bosnian and Croatian wars.

    Prosecutors are expected to call several hundred witnesses, including the UK politician, Paddy Ashdown, who is due to testify next week.

    Mr Milosevic has said he will call several world leaders, including former US President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

    See also:

    06 Mar 02 | Europe
    Milosevic denied release request
    01 Mar 02 | Americas
    US wants no permanent tribunals
    25 Feb 02 | Media reports
    Serbian press split on Milosevic trial
    19 Feb 02 | Europe
    Kostunica attacks Milosevic trial
    18 Feb 02 | Europe
    Milosevic defence transcript
    19 Feb 02 | Europe
    The Milosevic case: Timeline
    22 Feb 02 | Europe
    Milosevic surprises prosecution
    Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


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