KOSOVO-ALBANIANS TAKE THE STAND AS MILOSEVIC’S
www.slobodan-milosevic.org - August 17, 2005
Written by: Andy Wilcoxson
The trial of Slobodan Milosevic resumed again after a three-week break on Wednesday with the testimony of Muharem Ibraj, an ethnic-Albanian from Kosovo. Gen. Delic (the previous witness) was unable to continue due to scheduling issues, and will have complete his testimony on a later date.
Ibraj is the first Kosovo-Albanian to take the stand in President Milosevic’s defense. Mr. Ibraj was the head of the Local Security police in the Djakovica municipality during the 1999 Kosovo war.
Mr. Ibraj explained that the villagers elected the members of the Local Security themselves. The Serbian government provided the Local Security personnel with weapons, radios, uniforms, and vehicles.
Local Security’s job was to provide law and order in their own village. Local Security was not the regular Serbian police (MUP). Local Security guaranteed law and order in their own village, and the Serbian MUP and Yugoslav Army (VJ) agreed to stay out of the village.
Mr. Ibraj explained that the MUP could not even enter his village of Osek Hila without his permission. He said that the Serbian police only came to the village when he asked them to come.
He said that there was one incident when two VJ soldiers violated the agreement and raped an Albanian woman inside of his village. He called the local Secretariat of the Interior (SUP) and the Serbian police came and took the two soldiers away to jail. He later learned that they had been given prison sentences of 6 and 7 years each.
Aside from that one isolated incident, Mr. Ibraj said that the Yugoslav Army and Serbian Police behaved properly and did not bother the people living in his village.
During his time as head of the Local Security in the Djakovica municipality, Mr. Ibraj had to deal with William Walker, the head of the OSCE’s Kosovo Verification Mission.
On one occasion, Walker told Mr. Ibraj to sew an American flag on his uniform, because in Walker’s opinion, Kosovo was “no longer Serbia.”
Mr. Ibraj said that he frequently saw Walker going down the road late at night on his way to visit a KLA garrison in the nearby village of Gojan. He said that Walker went to see the KLA there practically every night at around midnight.
Mr. Ibraj’s relationship with Walker abruptly ended when Walker falsely accused his crippled 80-year-old father of raping two underage girls. The girls denied that Mr. Ibraj’s father was the rapist. Mr. Ibraj bitterly recounted how he cursed Walker and threw him out of the village.
According to the indictment against Milosevic, the MUP and VJ ethnically cleansed the Djackovica municipality of its ethnic Albanian population.
Mr. Ibraj, as an ethnic Albanian and as the head of the Local Security in the Djackovica municipality, denied that the MUP or VJ cleansed the area of its ethnic Albanian population.
As is frequently the case, the truth is exactly the opposite of what is stated in the indictment. Mr. Ibraj claimed that the MUP and VJ were encouraging the people to stay in their homes.
The witness recounted one occasion when he stopped a truckload of ethnic Albanian refugees who were leaving Kosovo on their way to Albania. Mr. Ibraj asked them why they were leaving, and they told him that they were terrified by the NATO bombing.
It was Mr. Ibraj’s testimony that ethnic Albanians, and others, fled Kosovo to escape the NATO bombing, and because the KLA was telling the Albanian population to leave. Mr. Ibraj said that he personally witnessed Albanians leaving because the KLA had told them to go.
The prosecution claims that Serbian forces destroyed Albanian cultural monuments including the mosque in Djackovica. Mr. Ibraj denied that Serbian forces destroyed the mosque. He said that NATO bombed several civilian targets in Djackovica including the mosque and the local Catholic Church.
Mr. Ibraj described the KLA as “a terrorist organization.” He said that the KLA made threats and exerted pressure on Kosovo’s Albanian population to quit their jobs. His testimony is exactly the opposite of the indictment’s claim that the Serbian government expelled Kosovo-Albanians from their jobs.
Mr. Ibraj has personally experienced KLA terrorism. After the war ended, and KFOR occupied Kosovo, the KLA kidnapped six members of Mr. Ibraj’s family. Mr. Ibraj has not seen his family members since June 1999, and fears that the KLA killed them.
Mr. Ibraj contacted the KLA and asked them why they had kidnapped his family members. The KLA told him that they did it because he had refused to cooperate with them.
Mr. Ibraj knows who kidnapped his family members, but KFOR will not do anything to bring the perpetrators to justice. Mr. Ibraj, fearing for his life, was forced to flee Kosovo after the KLA left a threatening letter at his house.
After Milosevic concluded the examination-in-chief, Mr. Saxon began to cross-examine Mr. Ibraj.
Mr. Saxon tried to discredit Mr. Ibraj by reading-out statements from pro-KLA sources that claimed he was a “notorious Serbian collaborator” who abused the ethnic-Albanian population. Mr. Ibraj denied all of the allegations that the prosecutor threw at him.
When one sees what has happened to Mr. Ibraj it becomes clear why so many ethnic Albanians falsely accuse the Serbs; they’re forced to accuse the Serbs or they’ll suffer the KLA’s consequences.
Mr. Ibraj refused to cooperate with the KLA and he was a loyal citizen of the country he lived in. Because of that, several members of his family were kidnapped and killed, he was expelled from his home, and his character was systematically assassinated by the KLA.
Mr. Ibraj knows who kidnapped his family members, but KFOR won’t do anything about it. Kosovo-Albanians have no protection from the KLA. If they refuse to toe the KLA’s line, their families will be killed, and they will wind-up in the same unfortunate position as Mr. Ibraj.
Mr. Ibraj’s cross-examination will continue when the trial resumes on Thrusday. The next defense witness on the docket after Mr. Ibraj is another Kosovo-Albanian.
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