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Friday, January 22, 1999 Published at 23:09 GMT


World: Europe

Racak killings: Who says what?

Bodies were lined up in the local mosque

Bodies of more than 40 ethnic Albanians were found in the village of Racak in southern Kosovo on Saturday morning. There have been differing explanations of what happened to them. Below are some of the key accounts:

  • The Villagers

    [ image:  ]
    Local villagers told the international monitors and reporters that Serbian police had entered the village on Friday and rounded up the men.

    They say the police took them to the hill above the village and shot them. "The police told us to run," one of the survivors told the BBC, "and as soon as we started running, they started to shoot."

  • BBC Correspondent Jacky Rowland

    Kosovo Section
    Our correspondent was among the first journalists to arrive in the village. "I counted more than 20 bodies lying in a gully on a hill. All the victims were men, most of them had been shot in the head or the neck," she reported.

    "None of them was wearing uniform and some of the men were above fighting age."

  • Head of the OSCE monitoring mission in Kosovo, William Walker

    [ image:  ]
    Mr Walker visited the village and inspected the bodies. He described the scene as the most horrendous event he has ever seen.

    "I've seen all the ingredients of a massacre ... a lot of bodies up there, a lot of men who have been shot in various ways, but mostly very close up ... It's horrendous. It's a horrible sight," Mr Walker said. Asked who had committed the crime, Walker said that the villagers told the OSCE officials "it was the Serbian police."

    "As a layman it looks like executions, it looks like people with absolutely no value for human life murdering these men, who to me look like farmers, they look like workmen, they look like villagers who certainly did not deserve to die in this fashion," Mr Walker said.

  • John Drewienkiewicz, another OSCE monitor

    Mr Drewienkiewicz said: "This is not war as anyone knows it, these are old men, most of them in their work clothes. I don't know who did this, but this is not normal."

  • Serbian Interior Ministry

    The Serbian authorities issued a statement suggesting the bodies are those of armed rebels killed in combat.

    Without referring directly to the bodies discovered at Racak the statement says: "Ethnic Albanian terrorist groups had opened fire with automatic weapons, hand-held rocket launchers and mortars on the police ... from trenches, bunkers and fortifications. The police responded and crushed the terrorists."

    "Several dozen terrorists were killed in the clashes with the police. Most of them were in uniforms bearing the insignia of the ethnic Albanian terrorist organization calling itself the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)," the statement said.

  • Serbian President Milan Milutinovic

    [ image:  ]
    Mr Milutinovic described statements by Mr Walker as "a series of lies and fabrications".

    He said Mr Walker "took advantage of the absence of judicial and other state authorities to make a statement containing falsehoods and personal assessments which are totally baseless."

    "It is indisputably clear that the police were provoked and compelled to defend themselves from terrorist attacks," he said.

  • Yugoslav pathologist

    [ image:  ]
    The Yugoslav pathologist who started examining the bodies on Tuesday with his team and colleagues from Belarus, has denied they were the victims of a massacre.

    "Not a single body bears any sign of execution," Dr Sasa Dobricanin said. "The bodies were not massacred."

  • Finnish forensic experts

    [ image:  ]
    Finnish experts who started examining the bodies on Thursday, said x-rays should be first step of any autopsy.

    "That is the only way of detecting bullets. Since I have been working earlier in Pristina, I know the local experts and authorities have no access to x-ray facilities," said Dr Helena Ranta, head of the Finnish team. "Knowing their facilities, I think it is a bit immature to give statements like that," Dr Ranta said.

    Her team would report within 10 days, she said.

  • Two French newspapers

    The French papers Le Monde and Le Figaro raise questions about the version of events given by local ethnic Albanians, saying it is inconsistent with video pictures of fighting in the village.





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