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Wednesday, March 17, 1999 Published at 23:06 GMT


Racak report 'rubbished' by Belgrade radio

Belgrade radio has criticised the long-awaited independent report into the killing of 45 Kosovo Albanians in the village of Racak in January.

On Wednesday the radio said that developments in Kosovo saw international experts ''fall prey to political interests''.

'No massacre'

Finnish investigator Helena Ranta's report was dismissed as failing to say ''anything concrete'.

Reporter Radovan Pantovic was in Pristina to cover the report's launch for Belgrade radio and he said: ''Team chief Helena Ranta could not confirm that a massacre had been committed in Racak.''

The report said: ''The very name of the document, a copy of which has been distributed to correspondents, is suggestive: 'Incident in Racak.'

''Also, asked several times whether the victims were killed while on their knees, Ranta replied in the negative.

''Asked whether the victims were civilians, she again could not give a positive and conclusive answer. She said: 'Most likely.'

'No Yugoslav interference'

''Asked whether they had been killed in fighting, she said that she did not know that. She did confirm that, on all 40 bodies, the only registered visible wounds had been caused by bullets.''

The reporter said Dr Ranta had stressed the good co-operation she had had from domestic and Belarus pathologists. It was also reported that she said she came under no pressure at all from the Yugoslav authorities.

The length of time it took for the report's completion was explained by Dr Ranta saying the job was extensive and complicated. In its preparation 3,000 photographs and ten hours of video footage had been analysed.

The reporter added: ''During the news conference, it was obvious that some of the correspondents, particularly Western and Albanian ones, were quite dissatisfied.''

A Belgrade radio announcer then said: ''So we have heard it - the Finnish pathologists did not have answers to any of the questions, answers to which can be provided by any US film or television series about achievements in the field of medicine.

''Or perhaps Dr Helena Ranta did not have the courage to openly contradict the OSCE chief, American William Walker, who was the only one to have seen a massacre.''

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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