www.slobodan-milosevic.org - March 23, 2005
Written by: Andy Wilcoxson
The Honorable Judge Danica Marenkovic took the stand, as a defense witness, at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic on Wednesday. Mrs. Marenkovic is an ethnic Macedonian, she was elected to her judgeship in 1984 by the Kosovo assembly. She worked at the district court in Pristina, and was the investigating judge who investigated the alleged massacre at Racak on January 15, 1999.
She began her testimony by answering questions about the status of Albanian and other non-Serbian judges in Kosovo. The indictment against Milosevic alleges that judges were dismissed because of their ethnicity.
Judge Marenkovic explained that the claims contained in the indictment were untrue. She said that no judges were dismissed, as that would have been illegal. The only way that a judge could lose their judgeship was to commit a crime, quit, or retire. She said that nobody in the judiciary was discriminated against because of his or her ethnicity. She pointed out that Albanian judges even sat on the Serbian Supreme Court and on the Constitutional Court, during the time covered by the indictment.
She testified that the KLA was legally classified as a terrorist organization, and that it was formed as early as 1992. She said that the Serbian authorities did not take any large-scale action against the KLA until March of 1998 when they killed Adem Jasari and his men. She said that Jasari had been accused of murder, and when the police tried to arrest him, he and his henchmen opened fire against the police. The police returned fire, killing Jasari and some of his men.
The witness described the KLA’s operations. She said that they carried out ambushes and hit-and-run attacks against police and civilians, as well as refugees from Bosnia and Croatia that were housed in Kosovo refugee camps.
On January 15, 1999 at about 9 AM, Judge Marenkovic received a report that the police had clashed with the KLA in Racak early that morning. She took a crime scene technician, Ismet Sufa (an ethnic Turk), to Racak with her in order to carry out an investigation.
Slobodan Milosevic played a video tape of the police operation in court today. On that tape one could see the police entering Racak on the morning of January 15th. The OSCE’s orange vans could clearly be seen on that tape as they watched the police operation from a hill overlooking the village. It was clear from the tape that the police were under fire. It would have been impossible for them to round up villagers and march them up to the ravine, let alone do it without the OSCE or the media seeing them.
Judge Marenkovic first arrived in Racak at approximately 2 PM on the 15th. She did not see evidence of shelling. None of the houses had damage that would indicate mortar fire. This is important because the indictment alleges that the Yugoslav army shelled Racak. She said that there was no evidence the army was anywhere near Racak.
When her team was about to go looking for people who might have been killed in the fighting they came under automatic weapons fire, and had to leave the village.
When her team attempted to return on the morning of the 16th of January, they were fired on again. She testified that her team was being fired on at the same time as William Walker was up at the ravine proclaiming that a massacre had happened.
Judge Marenkovic said that Walker’s conduct was improper. The KVM was supposed to be in Kosovo to monitor the work of the army and police, not to investigate crime scenes independently and draw conclusions.
She attempted to return to Racak together with her team again on the 17th of January. Again she was fired on. A video tape of the incident was played for the tribunal. The video depicted her and her colleagues hiding behind a car as automatic weapons fire was directed against them.
She testified that Gen. Drewienkiewicz, the British General in charge of planning for the OSCE-KVM in Kosovo, tried to obstruct her from carrying out an investigation in Racak.
On January 18th, Gen. DZ told her that she could not take members of her investigating team to Racak. He also said that she could not take the police, because the villagers (who he claimed were unarmed) would open fire against the investigators if the police were present. At one point Gen. DZ even threatened to report Judge Marenkovic to the Hague Tribunal if she attempted to carry out an investigation with her staff.
In spite of Gen. DZ’s belligerence, Judge Marenkovic went to Racak and was able to carry out an investigation on January 18th.
When she got to Racak she found trenches and bunkers that had been built by the KLA. These bunkers and trenches were video taped and the tape was played at the tribunal today. It was clear that the trenches had been used, they were littered with shell casings, and in one case a rifle tripod was left in a machine-gun nest that had been fortified with sandbags.
Her investigators also found weapons and KLA documents in the village itself. There were KLA uniforms, a large quantity of weapons, duty rosters, etc… and all of that was itemized and video taped. That videotape was also played at the tribunal today.
The topic of the bodies and the forensic investigation was broached at the end of the hearing today. The witness testified that 40 dead bodies, which had been placed in the mosque by the time she reached the village, were transported to the Institute of Forensics in Pristina.
She explained the composition of the forensic team that autopsied the bodies. The best experts from Serbia and Belarus were called in, and a team from Finland (led by Helena Ranta) joined the investigation later on.
She said that the forensic investigation revealed that the
victims had been killed by gunfire that came from a long distance. That is where
things ended on Wednesday. Judge Marinkovic will continue her testimony on
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