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|Front page | World | Europe | Kosovo | Yugoslavia after Milosevic | Killing of Kosovo|
The story of what happened to the men, women and children of Bela Cerkva begins in the town of Orahovac, where evidence is mounting that Serbs planned and directed the killings which took place in the Drini valley.
As K-For troops prepared to take over the area after the ceasefire, Serb commanders in the town are said to have started burning bundles of documents hidden in archives at the Orahovac police station. Among the documents which survived are those which detail the "Plan of the trap", an operation apparently devised in January this year to target Bela Cerkva which the KLA was relying on for food.
The plan explained how those targeted would be rounded up outside the village at the railway bridge and disposed of on the banks of the small Ballaja river.
Terrified at what might happen, dozens of people, predominantly from the Popaj, Zhuniqi and the Festoshi families, fled from their homes and headed towards the river and the bridge. Among the group was the village imam Hajrullah Begaj.
Zenel Popaj, a survivor of what followed, told Panorama how the villagers became trapped by the riverbank:
"The police were from the region's villages," said Mr Popaj. "They spoke to us in Albanian and told us, 'Surrender, we are here for peace.'"
The paramilitary police, identified by badges on their uniforms, were wearing dark glasses and masks - consistent with the plans found in Orahovac.
Human Rights Watch reports that the Serb commander then put his boot on the head or neck of Mr Popaj's 18-year-old nephew Shendet, before shooting the teenager dead. Some of the villagers were ordered to strip naked and forced to hand over valuables.
"They started shooting with automatic guns," Zenel Popaj told Panorama. "People fell on top of me [on the river bank]. I stayed very still for 15 minutes."
Mr Popaj and a two-year-old boy, believed to have been shielded by his mother, were the only survivors. Seven women and three children died.
Leaving the bodies lying on the riverbank, the Serb forces moved on and shot at least seven elderly villagers in a nearby field.
On his return to the virtually destroyed village, Elmi showed Panorama the graves marked by the bottles. Overall, 54 members of a village with a population of only a few hundred were killed.
The testimony given by witnesses forms part of the indictment against Slobodan Milosevic.