NO EXECUTIONS AT RACAK - January 26, 2005


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


German journalist Bo Adam took the stand at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic today. Mr. Adam is an investigative reporter who wrote a series of articles about the alleged Racak massacre for the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.


On January 15, 1999 a massacre was said to have taken place in the Kosovo village of Racak. Western politicians exploited the alleged event to galvanize public opinion against Serbia, and give NATO a pretext to bomb Yugoslavia.


On February 19, 1999 Bill Clinton went on television and told the world that, “We should remember what happened in the village of Racak back in January -- innocent men, women, and children taken from their homes to a gully, forced to kneel in the dirt, sprayed with gunfire -- not because of anything they had done, but because of who they were."


On February 21, 1999 Sen. Joe Biden went on the ABC News program “This Week” and told America that "An entire village was massacred. The Finnish [forensic investigators] came in and acknowledged that they had people sitting on their knees and put guns at their heads, and blew their brains away. . . Massacring is taking place, genocide is taking place.”


The Serbian government denied that a massacre had taken place. According to their account, there was a firefight between the state authorities and the KLA, and the people who died were killed in the fighting.


Mr. Adam was skeptical of Western claims that a massacre had taken place in Racak. He testified today that he was skeptical because the Serbian authorities had invited an Associated Press TV crew to come with them and film the operation. Logically, if they wanted to massacre civilians they would not have invited a TV crew to come and film it.


Because of the KLA’s presence in the area, it is widely suspected that they gathered their casualties together and put them in a ravine near the village in order to stage the scene and make it appear as if a mass-execution or massacre had taken place.


After a lot of difficulty, Mr. Adam managed to obtain the autopsy documents from the investigation led by Finnish pathologist Helena Ranta. The documents revealed that the people found in the ravine had not been shot at close range. Claims, such as those made by Clinton and Biden that people were executed were wrong.


In spite of Serbian assertions that the bodies in the ravine were those of armed combatants, the documents obtained by Mr. Adam found that Ranta’s team had not done any tests on the bodies to determine if they had been firing weapons.   


Serbian and Byelorussian investigators, using the “paraffin glove” test, determined that those people had been firing weapons. Unfortunately, the results of that test were not accepted by the international community.


The Milosevic trial has already learned from the testimony of prosecution witness Shukri Buja that the KLA was active and had a base of 5 or 6 houses in Racak. Mr. Adam’s testimony re-enforced that fact.


In March of 2000 Mr. Adam visited Kosovo. He visited a KLA cemetery in the village of Malopoljce. According to his testimony, the cemetary was guarded by a KLA soldier who showed him the graves of KLA soldiers who had died during the fighting in Racak.


Mr. Adam visited Racak and spoke to several people who lived there. He wanted to speak to Helena Ranta, who was there at the time, but she would not talk to him.


Mr. Adam asked the villagers show him around, and they showed him how a number of people had been killed, including a woman and a 13-year old boy, everybody else who died were adult males.


The woman was killed on the main road. According to the villagers, gunfire was coming from a hill, approximately 300 meters away from her and she got hit. The boy was on a side street and he was hit by gunfire coming from a hillside approximately 100 meters away from him.


While it is extremely sad that this woman and this boy were killed, Mr. Adam pointed out that they had not been “forced to kneel in the dirt, and sprayed with gunfire” as Bill Clinton had claimed.


Mr. Adam said that he received confirmation from the villagers that some people in the village had died in combat. He even took a photograph of one of the villagers who was showing him the foxhole where one of the men had been killed with his rifle still in his hands.


The Milosevic trial has already seen evidence of combat in Racak. On May 13, 2002 Milosevic played a videotape for the tribunal. The tape showed the activities of the Serbian police in the village. From the tape, it is clear that the police were pinned down under enemy fire, which makes it all the more unlikely that they could have rounded people up, took them up to that ravine, and executed them.


During cross-examination by prosecutor Daniel Saxon, Mr. Adam told the court that he was surprised by the sloppy nature of Ms. Ranta’s investigation. He said that he went up to the ravine right after her team had been there and found a number of shell casings that were just left lying on the ground.


Mr. Adam also noted that a number of foxholes and trenches had been dug in the area around the ravine.


After Mr. Adam concluded his testimony, Mitar Balevic resumed his testimony from the previous day.


As a member of the League of Communists in Kosovo, Mr. Balevic was present at Milosevic’s famous 1989 speech at Gazemestan, where the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo was being commemorated.


Many Western journalists and intellectuals say that Milosevic stoked nationalistic hatred with this speech, and that it was a call to war.


To prove those journalists and intellectuals wrong, Milosevic played the entire videotape of that speech for the court today. After playing the tape of the speech he put questions to Mr. Balevic. He asked Balevic if it was a nationalistic speech, and the witness responded that the speech explicitly promoted peace, and interethnic tolerance.


After playing the tape, Milosevic asked the witness about the crimes of the KLA. Mr. Balevic became aware of the KLA when he was an eyewitness to an attack on the Pristina police station on August 2, 1995.


Mr. Balevic will continue his testimony when the trial resumes next Tuesday.  

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