RADONJIC LAKE: WAS IT LIKE BATAJNICA?
In his examination-in chief, the witness talked about the intelligence the police had on the involvement of Idriz Balaj in Kosovo crimes and his ties with the first accused Haradinaj. In the cross-examination, the defense of the former KLA commanders mostly focused on the crimes committed by the Serbian police and its purported practice of transferring bodies away from the crime scenes
Zoran Stijovic, witness in the Haradinaj trial
Apparently, the defense teams of the three former KLA commanders don’t believe that Zoran Stijovic’s evidence prejudiced their clients. In the cross examination of the former head of analysis section in the Pristina office of the Serbian State Security Service, they focused on questions about the Serbian police, rather than the KLA. When he answered the prosecutor’s questions, Stijovic claimed that the police had reliable intelligence on the involvement of Idriz Balaj in the crimes against Kosovo Serbs, Albanians and Roma and of the fact that he acted under Haradinaj’s control.
Ramush Haradinaj's defense didn’t pay much attention to this topic in the four hours it took to cross-examine Stijovic, choosing to focus on the transfer of bodies of the dead Albanian civilians killed in the NATO campaign in 1999 and the involvement of paramilitary groups in the Kosovo conflict at that time. Stijovic answered that he was only partially informed of the activities of paramilitary and military units in the field as he was mostly working in his office. He was more forthcoming on the transfer of bodies from Kosovo to Serbia. The information was based mainly on his ‘preliminary interview’ with Rade Markovic, former head of Security Service, in June 2001. Stijovic had already given evidence about this at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic.
Stijovic confirmed the authenticity of Markovic’s statement where he named Milosevic as the person who issued the order to transfer the bodies from Kosovo to Batajnica near Belgrade. Vlajko Stojiljkovic, former minister of the interior, carried out the transfer, using police personnel, Markovic said in his statement. The defense has focused on this since the beginning of the trial in an attempt to prove it was possible that the Serbian police transferred bodies not only in 1999, but also in 1998. They claim the police threw bodies of Serbs, Albanians and Roma in the Radonjic lake canal and then went on to blame the killings to the KLA.
Defense counsel Emmerson devoted very little time to the effort to contest the reliability of the information gathered by the Serbian Security Service in Kosovo from statements it obtained from Albanians under arrest. He showed two statements given by two such persons after their release to the activists of human rights organizations. The two say that they signed their statements after being tortured in the police detention unit. Stijovic allowed it was possible that the police officers in some situations did use force. This, he said, ‘happens in all police forces all over the world’, adding that defendants often deny the statements they gave to the police once they appear in court.
The defense counsel of Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj also showed more interest in what the police did than in the KLA attacks against Serbian armed forces and Albanian and Serbian civilians Stijovic had testified about.
- Case : Haradinaj et al.
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