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Monday, 18 August, 2003, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Massacre children's journey for justice
Saranda Bogujevci
Saranda returned to Kosovo for a memorial service
BBC ONE'S Real Story follows a teenager from Manchester as she travels to Serbia to confront the paramilitary fighter who allegedly murdered her mother, grandmother and two younger brothers.

Each slow step 18-year-old Saranda Bogujevci took was full of anguish, as she made her way back into the garden in Kosovo where four years ago six of her family were gunned to death around her.

White marks on the wall showed where the bullets struck.

"It's like the day when it happened. I feel like I'm there with them - my mum, my brothers, everyone.

"They shot my auntie first, right over there. They just pushed her and shot her and my cousin started screaming 'Mum' and they shot her again and then they started shooting us."

Fourteen killed

The killers, from a Serbian paramilitary unit known as the Scorpions, left Saranda and four of her cousins for dead, slumped among the corpses of 14 women and children.

For Saranda, the filming of her return to the scene of the massacre was her chance to tell the world what happened.

The murders of the Bogujevci and Duriqi families took place in their home town Podujevo in Kosovo, just a few miles from the Serbian border, on 28 March, 1999.

Of the 19 ethnic Albanians herded against a wall, seven women and seven children were killed, the youngest a boy of two.

Evacuation

Saranda herself was shot 16 times, most of the bullets hitting her arm as she tried to shield herself. She lost her mother, grandmother and two younger brothers. Her cousins, Fatos, Yehona, Lirie and Genc also survived but lost their mother and eldest sister.

Saranda Bogujevci in
Saranda received 13 gunshots in her arm
Their fathers, brothers Selatin and Safet, fled the town before the death squads arrived, after their wives and mother pleaded with them to go. The family believed the Serbs would only target Albanian men.

The wounded children were taken by a local doctor to a hospital in the Kosovan capital, Pristina, where they were found at the end of the war by a British Army surgeon who arranged their evacuation to a Manchester hospital.

All five children have undergone major treatment for their injuries. Lirie, aged nine at the time of the crime, was shot through her neck and required complex reconstructive surgery.

Last month they went to Belgrade to confront one of the paramilitaries accused of the massacre.

Serbian courts will be forced to organise other trials and Albanians will speak out about what happened to them in Kosovo

Natasha Kandic
Human rights lawyer
Former Scorpion paramilitary Sasa Cvjetan has been charged with the killings. He initially admitted to Interpol that he took part in the crime, but later retracted his confession.

His first trial in southern Serbia last year had to be abandoned after death threats to the judge. The trial was then moved to Belgrade at the beginning of this year but was postponed when the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated.

War criminals are thought to have been responsible.

Lerie Bogujevci
Lerie was shot through the throat
But last month the trial restarted and the children bravely decided to testify with the support of human rights organisations.

There were fears the children's lives would be in danger. More than 30 armed agents protected the family during their stay in Serbia and an entire floor of their hotel was sealed off.

For 10-year-old Genc, the experience was too frightening and he was flown out of Belgrade.

But the other four picked Cvjetan out of an identity parade before going to court to testify in a war crimes trial, standing just feet away from their family's alleged executioner.

Historic trial

Besides being an act of great courage, their appearance was also historic. They were the first Albanian victims of Serbian atrocities in Kosovo to testify before a Serbian judge.

An estimated 8,500 Kosovan Albanians were slaughtered but virtually all of their killers are still free.

The trial was the result of years of hard work by Serbian human rights lawyer Natasha Kandic.

She told the programme: "It means that Serbian courts will be forced to organise other trials and that Albanians will speak out about what happened to them in Kosovo."

The trial is expected to end this Autumn.

Real Story: Monday 18 August at 1930 BST on BBC ONE and the Real Story website.

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