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Friday, June 25, 1999 Published at 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK

World: Europe

When society breaks down

There were no police for her to call to report a dead body

By Jeremy Bowen in Prizren

The flat stank of urine and decay. Something was very badly wrong.

The BBC's Jeremy Bowen reports on one Serb lady's plight in Prizren
She said her name, she is 70 years old and a Serb in a place where Serbs are no longer welcome.

She was weak and confused. Her front door had been kicked in, the neighbours said by Albanian fighters from the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

[ image:  ]
Her photo album was open. It showed the family in better times: A young Serb paramilitary, perhaps a grandson with a machine gun and her husband in the Yugoslav army in World War II.

She kept looking back. Then we realised the decomposing body of her husband was in there with her.

He had been dead for six days.

No police to call

Kosovo: Special Report
In normal countries you would call the police. But in Kosovo, there are no police.

Nato smashed their buildings and forced the policemen, all Serbs, to leave.

Nato's armoured columns offer overall security, not social services.

[ image: The body was left in the kitchen for nine days ...]
The body was left in the kitchen for nine days ...
Twenty-four hours later, she was still there.

We asked a captain of the German army to see if he could get the body out. She kept saying her husband had gone for a walk.

A neighbour said the old man had been alive when the Albanian fighters broke in.

The captain promised to do his best. She still could not, would not say how her husband had died.

The neighbour said: "We will all try to help".

Cathedral shelter

There was one place she could go. Serb pensioners who think Kosovo Albanians might kill them, are being sheltered by the German army in the orthodox cathedral.

[ image: ... until finally it was removed]
... until finally it was removed
One woman was beaten by the KLA, her son, now in Serbia, was a police inspector. Another woman, aged 59, came home to find the KLA had cut her husband's throat.

And a 63-year-old man was stabbed with a bayonet.

The Germans are serious about protecting them, they arrested and disarmed a KLA man who was loitering outside the cathedral.

It took another 24 hours before the man's body was removed from his flat - three days after we found it, nine days after he died.

There is no civil apparatus for dealing with problems like this. Nato is preoccupied with law and order.

The aid agencies with food and shelter. Civil society has effectively collapsed.

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