Witnesses at the Belgrade trial of 13 Serbs for war crimes during the Kosovo conflict in 1999 recalled how the paramilitaries burned and looted their houses.
After entering the Kosovo village of Zahac on May 14, 1999, members of the Jackals paramilitary unit robbed houses, stole money and killed civilians, witnesses told the Belgrade court by video link on Wednesday.
“They entered our village and I saw them kill three people in my yard, and the fourth they killed a kilometre away. That is what I saw. Later I heard they killed more people,” said Salji Uka, a farmer from Zahac, where at least 18 civilians are believed to have died in the attack.
“They set my stable, house and cattle on fire. One of them asked me to give him all my money. It was some 1,300 Deutschmarks and I don’t know how many [Yugoslav] dinars,” added Uka.
Asked by the judge to point out the killers, the witness said it was “impossible to recognise them since all of them wore masks and you could only see their eyes”.
The witness added that the surviving civilians then left the village in fear of another attack.
“We left and slept over in some woods. We spent two or three months there. No one told us to leave the village, we left on our own,” said Uka.
The second witness, Djoka Rasi, said he saw six soldiers enter Zahac.
“Six masked soldiers came and searched the houses. They beat us with automatic rifles, entered the yards. They beat up my middle son,” said Rasi.
“Then they separated us into two columns and put us on a tractor. At one point they told [villager] Azil Mehmeti to get down from the tractor. They executed him on the spot,” added Rasi.
The Serbian war crimes prosecutor alleges that Toplica Miladinovic, Srecko Popovic, Slavisa Kastratovic, Boban Bogicevic, Radoslav Brnovic, Vidoje Koricanin, Veljko Koricanin, Abdulah Sokic, Milojko Nikolic, Zoran Obradovic, Dejan Bulatovic and Ranko Momic were responsible for killing more than 100 ethnic Albanians in the villages of Zahac, Pavlan, Ljubenic and Cuska during the conflict in Kosovo in 1999.
The trial continues on Thursday.