In his evidence at the trial of General Vlastimir Djordjevic, former member of the logistics unit in the SAJ base says that in the spring of 1999 he was ordered several times by his superiors to dig pits, used as mass graves to bury the bodies of Albanian civilians brought in trucks from Kosovo

Vlastimir Dordevic in the courtroom of the TribunalVlastimir Dordevic in the courtroom of the Tribunal

The trial of Serbian MUP general Vlastimir Djordjevic continued with the evidence of a protected witness. In the spring of 1999, the witness was logistics officer in the Special Anti-terrorist Units (SAJ) base in Batajnica. The witness testified with protective measures, under pseudonym, K-88, and with voice distortion. He described his involvement in the burial of Albanian civilians brought from Kosovo in April 1999 on several occasions. Two statements the witness gave to the OTP in 2005 and 2006 were tendered into evidence together with the transcript of his testimony in the Milutinovic et al. case in February 2007.

At the beginning of the hearing, the prosecutor read the summary of the witness’s statement. In early April 1999, the witness saw three civilian trucks loaded with bodies of Kosovo Albanians parked in front of the shooting range at the SAJ base. The witness’s immediate superior, listed as K-87 on the prosecution witness list, told him that bodies were in the truck. K-87 then ordered the witness to dig a pit. The witness proceeded to dig a 40-m trench at the shooting range. The bodies were then unloaded from the trucks into the trench and the witness then covered them with soil. Some days later, the procedure was repeated; in the following three weeks more bodies were brought in by trucks and buried at Batajnica on six occasions.

In his evidence at the trial of Milan Milutinovic and five other former Serbian officials, the witness said that during the burial the police officers set tires on fire; the smoke was to prevent NATO from locating mass graves. The witness also said that the transfer and burial had been ‘rather chaotic’; the trucks used to transport the bodies were totally run down. Drivers of one of the trucks told him, the witness recounted, that on their way from Kosovo a side panel on their truck broke and some 50 bodies fell out on the road. They had to load them back onto truck and continue to Belgrade. In his ten-minute examination-in chief today, the witness said that some of the truck drivers wore police camouflage uniforms and spoke with a Montenegrin accent.

In the spring of 1999, SAJ commander Zivko Trajkovic was ‘directly subordinated’ to Vlastimir Djordjevic, Public Security Department chief. Djordjevic faces charges of murder, deportation and persecution of Kosovo Albanians during the NATO campaign and cover up of those crimes when the bodies were transferred from Kosovo to several locations in Serbia.

Because the witness schedule was changed, the defense was not ready to cross-examine witness K-88 and was granted permission to cross-examine him next week.