2009-07-31T15:44:41+03:00

Kosovo killers. Part 3

KP journalists trace the scandalous book by Carla Del Ponte, prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia [photo]
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Evitsa Dzhovevich was miraculously released from an Albanian concentration camp. She hasn't left her apartment with her daughter Militsa in two years.Evitsa Dzhovevich was miraculously released from an Albanian concentration camp. She hasn't left her apartment with her daughter Militsa in two years.
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Final installment. See previous installments from May 12, 13.

General's list

Deputy in Serbia’s parliament and General Bozhidar Delich told us that no Serb was left alive who could testify to the KLA's organ trafficking.

"We received information about the concentration camps holding Serbian prisoners," Delich told KP. "We passed these materials along to international organizations. But the terrorists had their own links in the KFOR and UN missions. Whenever the commission intended on checking a specific location, the prisoners were quickly transported to another camp. Back then, we had high hopes we would see the prisoners alive. In 1999, Serbia released 2,000 Albanian prisoners to Kosovo, hoping to receive kidnapped Serbs in return. But the Albanians didn't send one! Of course not! They would describe the horrors they were subjected to, including organ extraction. The KLA had about 10 concentration camps for organ donors in south Kosovo. The largest were Budak, Yablonits, Ponoshevets, Zrsts and Nashestk. There was a huge camp in Prizren near a bank building, but it's very dangerous traveling there."

Naturally, the first thing we did was visit these 10 locations. But there were no signs of war or museums honoring genocide victims. All we saw was new buildings, dumps, car parts clearance sales and hundreds of monuments honoring KLA heroes. We stopped to take a closer look at one of the monuments. Kosovo’s state myth about the righteous KLA was developing quickly.

"Who's your hero," we asked a young boy in English in Yablonits. He looked about 15 years old.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"Reporters from Scotland,” we said.

"Where's that?" he asked.

"Great Britain," we answered

The boy smiled and started running around us with his dog. "English is good, Europe is good, America is our friend! And Ramush Kharadinay is the best!" the boy shouted, getting back to my first question.

"Well who isn't good, then?" we asked.

"Serbia," the boy said straight away. "And Russia," he added. "I hate Russia the most. It's the farthest away."

Some adults nearby joined in the political debate. But when asked about the concentration camps, they answered: "The Serbs were never here. There was never a war here. We always lived here." And we heard the same things in every town.

After visiting the last location on the general's list, we knew there was little hope to find witnesses to the KLA's organ trafficking. Driving around the mountain roads, we drove by the Holy Archangels Monastery that had been burned down by Albanians. During the last wave of the genocide in 2004, monk Khariton was kidnapped. Several days later, his naked body was found in the mountains. He was severely tortured and his severed head was never found. Today, the Middle Age monastery has a modern-day martyr. Restoration works have commenced at the monastery only inasmuch as they have begun cleaning the ruins. The monks haven't been persecuted in recent years.

The monastery's members are few. One is a Serbian from Prizren where the general advised us not to go.

Evitsa Dzhovevich and her daughter Militsa take a cab to the monastery on holidays. But they walk all the way back to Prizren. It's a form of protest. Two-year-old Militsa is the only Serbian child in the ancient capital of Orthodox Kosovo. There aren't any more Serbian children. And there probably won't be anymore. The nuns told us that Eva and Militsa haven't left their apartment in two years. And Eva refuses to move to Serbia. She promised God she wouldn't leave Kosovo after being miraculously saved twice. However, she'll most likely end up moving for her daughter's sake.

Eva and Militsa live in the center of Prizren in an apartment building. But she didn't tell us her apartment number. She wanted to check that our intentions were sincere. And so we ran up and down the stairs knocking on all the doors. Essentially there were two types of doors. The first was ornate steel doors with Albanian last names. The second was wooden doors covered in a layer of cheap paint, the majority of which had been beaten in.

"I believed in God, but I didn't leave Kosovo"

Eva and Militsa live behind a thick steel door. Eva installed the door a long time ago, and she's regretted doing so on more than one occasion. Militsa is bright-eyed and enthusiastic upon seeing us. She's never had so many guests over before. And we're having a difficult time coping with the situation. Imagine playing with the last Russian child in Novgorod or Tver. That's a good way to understand what the Serbs have lost.

Usually the only person who comes to the apartment is an 80-year-old Muslim Serb. He's brought them food to the apartment for two years now. Militsa's father, a Greek who worked in Prizren, sends them money each month. He didn't want to stay in Kosovo, and Eva didn't want to leave.

"I was first kidnapped on Sept. 14, 1999 at 11:50," Eva said. "I was buying vegetables at a stall near my house. Albanians had just entered the city at the time. Fifty people were killed before the KFOR came. Around 30 children had also disappeared. An Albanian walked over to me in a military uniform and asked to see my documents. But he didn't even look at them. He knew right away that I am a Serb. Then he dragged me to his car. I was screaming and fighting. Soon a second Albanian ran over to help him. They picked me up and shoved me in the trunk. The next thing I knew I was at their headquarters, where they held me three days. Later, a man came to see me who gave me a thorough medical examination. He measured my blood pressure, took blood and started asking me a bunch of questions. He wanted to know how healthy I was and I didn't understand why."

Eva was devoid of emotion. It was clear she had put the incident behind her long ago.

"Who was this man? Was he a Serb or an Albanian?"

"I don’t know. He spoke both languages equally well," she said. "He wrote down everything I said in his notebook. He was surprised when I told him how old I was. I was born in 1960."

"You look wonderful for your age," we said. We couldn't resist the compliment.

Eva smiled for the first and last time at our meeting.

"That's what saved me. Then the man who inspected me left immediately. Later I was taken to their chief, who was sitting in the office of a bank director. He said: 'Pray to God and thank him for being so old. Now get out of here.' And he threw me my passport. Ever since I have believed in God. But I haven't left Kosovo."

Eva said sadly that Prizen was a Serbian city in the 1990s. Most resident Serbs said they'd never live anywhere else. But then they started leaving one by one. Only Eva stayed. She refused to leave in 2001 when Albanians tried to kick in her apartment door, or shot at her in the street.

"There was a massacre on March 17, 2004. Serbian homes were burning in the city. The day before, the KFOR soldiers had come to our homes and hung signs on the doors reading 'This apartment is protected by the KFOR forces.' I ripped the sign off right away. And on March 18, Albanians came and started kicking in my door. I called my Greek friend who works for a charity mission and asked him to call the UN Police. But someone told the Albanians that a patrol car was on the way and they escaped. The police helped me pack my things. I lived for an entire year at a military base before going home.”

We got ready to leave Prizren before dark. But my driver Doshko couldn't hold back. "Eva, don't you understand? You can't live this way. Think about your daughter. Here is my number in Grachanits. Call. I'll help you move to our enclave."

Eva took the number, but made no promises. We didn't judge her. Maybe Eva and Militsa are paying the price for their nation's wrongdoings. They're forced to live in torment in what was once a Serbian city. But someday the tide may change. That's something worth believing in.

Doshko was quiet on the way back to Grachanits. All he said was: "It's a shame God doesn't have time for all of us."

"I spoke with Carla. She waved us off"

We traveled to Belgrade to complete our investigation. We had learned about a group at a refugee camp near Obilich that was collecting information on kidnapped Serbs. We were given the number of the group's head Simo Spasich at a KFOR wagon inhabited by exiled Serbs. Spasich had tried to get The Hague to investigate the organ trafficking.

Spasich met us in a yellow T-shirt with the motto: "Why have Belgrade and Prishtina forgotten kidnapped Serbs?"

"I don't want people to forget their brothers," Spasich said, smiling sadly. He spoke in earnest. In 1998, both his brothers disappeared — Zharko and Belko. He still hopes to find them. "Several weeks after they disappeared, I received the first news about them. A Turk told me he saw both my brothers in Albania. They were both alive. I was even able to talk to them by phone. And that was the last time we spoke. My brother says he doesn't know why he was kidnapped. They don't force him to work and they don't demand ransom. I could kidnap an international bus and demand they return my brothers, but I hoped they'd trade them instead. Serbia released 2,108 Albanians. But no one was offered in return."

"Ponte writes in her book that Russian volunteers also disappeared. Have you heard anything about this?" we asked.

"There's one Russian in the list of kidnapped individuals — Igor Sergeevich Nifontov born in 1968," Spasich said. "We don't even have his photo. He disappeared in July 1999. There were probably more Russians. Volunteers fought under different names. Maybe the relatives of kidnapped Russians will read the article and contact me?"

"What happened to the Serbs who were held hostage?" he asked.

"The Albanians didn't kill everyone at once," Spasich said. "We found bodies in mass graves and the mountains. But the fate of many other Serbs was unclear until several facts later came to light. I first spoke with Ponte about this in 2001 in Belgrade. We gave her a list of 1,300 kidnapped individuals and the letters that were dropped over Kosovo by NATO planes signed by Tachi. They called all the Albanians to leave the country before the bombings began. The Albanians left in masses guarded by KLA soldiers. Our kidnapped Serbs were seen among them. The Albanian's used this maneuver to get the kidnapped Serbs out of the country under false pretenses as refugees."

"Why?" we asked.

"To take their organs before killing them," Spasich said. "I know this is why over 1,000 people were taken to Albania. Ponte only mentions 300 Serbs. In 2004, I received a call from The Hague that all the Serbs who were on the list were killed."

"Did you know that the Serbs were kidnapped for their organs?" we asked.

"I assumed so," Spasich said. "We received information in this regard. I learned from military personnel that this happens in western Macedonia, too. When Ponte told us the Serbs on our list had been killed, she knew that their organs had been stolen. We're preparing a lawsuit against her for masking these crimes. We could have punished the guilty four years ago. But Kosovo's independence was dearer to The Hague than some Serbs. They were willing to close their eyes to the horrors committed by the Albanians. It's a big political game. If everyone knew about the brutalities committed against the Serbs, no one would have recognized Kosovo's independence."

A Call to Brussels

Dmitry ROGOZIN, Russia's Representative in NATO: "It's real-deal politics"

"The international community always knew about the organ trafficking as described in Ponte's book. These are things that everyone knows who's ever been involved with Kosovo's problems. There is serious evidence discrediting Tachi, the KLA's head, who's still respected in the West. Everyone knew that the KLA is a terrorist organization financed by drug trafficking. For the West, acknowledging these facts meant breaking their plans for dividing Serbia, changing the power scheme in the Balkans and weakening Russian influence. My partners in Brussels call it 'real-deal politics.'"

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