After describing the murders, rapes, looting and house burning committed by his fellow fighters in Kosovo, former member of the Special Police Units gave evidence about a conversation between his superior officers. One of them advised the other to allow the police to loot, ‘because it will have a positive effect on their morale”

Milan Milutinovic, Nikola Sainovic, Dragoljub Ojdanic, Nebojsa Pavkovic, Vladimir Lazarevic and Sreten Lukic in the courtroomMilan Milutinovic, Nikola Sainovic, Dragoljub Ojdanic, Nebojsa Pavkovic, Vladimir Lazarevic and Sreten Lukic in the courtroom

The murders, looting, expulsions, rapes and burning of houses started in the summer of 1998, testified protected witness K-79. He is testifying with voice and image distortion at the trial of the six Serbian officials charged with crimes in Kosovo. In his evidence, he described the movements of his detachment of the PJP (Special Police Units) from July 1998 until April 1999 and all the crimes they committed in that period.

As early as in September 1998, his unit carried out mop-up operations in Kosovo villages several times, in order to destroy the KLA forces there. The first crime he described was the murder of three Albanian men and two Albanian women in the village of Bajgora near Kosovska Mitrovica. The police had found a rifle in their house. The men were taken out, shot in the head and killed, the younger woman was first raped and then both she and the other woman were shot to death.

In the same village, members of his detachment killed a woman and a mentally ill boy. As they were going back to their base in Orahovac, two youths were dragged out of a car that had tried to overtake the police convoy. They were killed on the spot. The witness went on to describe close encounters of his unit with the Albanian refugees in the Drenica area. He says the policemen robbed the men and women in the columns and then shared the spoils with the commander of the police company the witness belonged to. When they returned to the base, the commander brought in three trucks full of TV sets and household appliances he had looted. The witness says that after NATO launched the air strikes he was present when his superior officers talked. The detachment commander advised the company commander to allow his policemen to loot “because this will have a positive effect on their morale”.

When the air strikes started, the commander ordered that all the Albanians from the village of Ljubidza be expelled in the direction of Prizren, a town nearby. “We went from house to house, expelling people. The refugee column on the Suva Reka-Prizren road was 20 kilometers long”, the witness said. He testified that the burning of Albanian houses was an everyday occurrence. On one occasion, he heard his commander issue an order to burn the houses.

In a statement he gave the OTP investigators last year, the witness says his superiors would go to Pristina to get their orders from the Chief of the MUP Staff for Kosovo, Sreten Lukic. Lukic is in the dock today, facing charges for crimes in Kosovo. In court today, the witness corrected his statement, saying that in fact the commander of his detachment would go to Prizren to meet with the PJP commander Obrad Stevanovic. He said he knew nothing about meetings with Lukic.

In the course of K-79’s testimony, the defense counsel for the six accused objected often because of the “irrelevance” of his testimony. In their view, his evidence is “outside the scope of the indictment”. The prosecutor clarified that parts of his evidence not related to the indictment served to highlight the pattern of crimes in Kosovo. The Trial Chamber said that it would decide on the admissibility of the evidence provided by the PJP insider after it is completed.