Humanitarian Law Center
February 1, 2000

The Lesson of Orahovac
The International Administration in Kosovo Encourages Violence
Against Serbs

By Natasa Kandic

(Part 1 is related to the war-time violence. We are presenting only the second part of the report which is specifically related to the post-war human rights violations)

KLA Violence in the Presence of KFOR

KFOR entered Orahovac on June 16, 1999. Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)
troops entered the town ahead of the international forces. They
immediately began searching Serb houses and taking people out of their
homes. More than 40 Serbs had disappeared by July 10, and all of the
Serbs from the houses and the 142 apartments in the center of the town
were evicted. During this time, several Serbs were released after being
questioned for days. One of them escaped from a truck, in which he was
being taken, along with another three Serbs, to be shot by KLA members.

Everyone in Orahovac, including KFOR and the OSCE, knew at the time that
the KLA was operating prisons in the former police station and in the
building that formerly housed the Fire Brigade Center. A woman whose
son, Boban, and husband, Predrag, had been led away from their home by
KLA troops asked a German soldier named Stefan to go to the Fire Brigade
Center building and look for them there. He went there and called them
by their names. Predrag called back, and Stefan took him by the hand and
led him out of the building. The KLA soldiers stopped Stefan from
searching the other rooms in their prison.

By the end of December 1999, KFOR had found the bodies of four Serbs who
had gone missing in June. There is no information about the other
kidnapped Serbs. The last abduction took place on January 3, 2000. On
that day, Radivoje Lukic (25) left the Serb section of Orahovac for the
center of the town while under the influence of alcohol. He never

The OSCE Defends a Local KLA Commander

The abduction of five Serbs from Orahovac on October 29, 1999 revealed
the fact that some Orahovac Serbs had already bought their way out of
town with the help of a local Romany. The five Serbs -- one of whom was
Zvezdan Mojsic, the son of Ilija Mojsic, a former investigating
magistrate in Orahovac -- disappeared without trace in Djakovica, where
they were to be received by another person, reportedly from the KLA, and
transported to Montenegro. Relatives of the missing informed the
Humanitarian Law Center that the abductees were being held by Hekuran
Hoda, a KLA commander from Djakovica.

During a meeting with UNMIK and OSCE officials in Pristina on November
8, HLC executive director Natasa Kandic informed them of the
disappearance of the five Serbs from Orahovac and of the allegations
made by their relatives.

The OSCE's human-rights department had the same information as did the
relatives of the missing. The security section of the KFOR headquarters
in Pec had acquired the same information independently, but they also
believed they could locate the place where the KLA was holding the
kidnapped Serbs. On November 20, the local OSCE offices in Orahovac and
Djakovica were ordered by UNMIK to investigate the abduction. Meanwhile, it was reported that the International Police had begun an investigation and that they were interviewing members of the family of the missing in Orahovac.

In Serbia, the displaced families of the missing asked the International
Red Cross to establish contact with the abductors. The warden of the Nis
prison allowed Ilija Mojsic, contrary to Serbian law, to talk to two
Albanian inmates: Rexhep Oruqi from Orahovac, who was serving a
five-year prison term, and the brother of Hekuran Hoda, arrested during
NATO's bombing campaign. On November 25, the Nis prison warden delivered a letter from Hoda to Barbara Davis, chief of staff of the UN special rapporteur for human rights in the FR Yugoslavia, asking her to take the letter to Hekuran Hoda in Djakovica. In this letter -- which the warden
read to the members of Davis' delegation, including Natasa Kandic --
the prisoner asked his brother, Hekuran Hoda, to get information about
the fate of the Serbs and to do everything to get them released. While
delivering the letter, the warden said he would release Hoda and Oruqi
in exchange for the release of Mojsic's son.

Hekuran Hoda replied to his imprisoned brother that he had nothing to do
with that particular abduction.

On November 30, the OSCE office in Djakovica asked the Humanitarian Law Center and its executive director, Natasa Kandic, to retract their
report that Hekuran Hoda had been involved in the abduction of the five
Orahovac Serbs.

As the OSCE is a part of the international administration in Kosovo, the
HLC saw this request by the OSCE's Djakovica office as an act of
pressuring a non-governmental organization in its investigations into
violations of the rights of minorities, and it informed the
human-rights section of the OSCE office in Pristina about this. To all
intents and purposes, the conduct of the local OSCE office in Djakovica
has shown that its employees are not competent to carry out the
human-rights protection mandate given to the OSCE, and that their work
is under the control of local political and military groups.

In connection with the abduction of magistrate Mojsic's son: in December
1999, Serbian police stopped Silva Oruqi at the crossing to Serbia and
took her in for questioning. She was on her way to Nis, where she had
intended to visit her husband, the imprisoned Rexhep Oruqi. She was
interrogated by policemen who had worked in Orahovac until the retreat
of Serbian forces from Kosovo.

UNMIK had not revealed the results of its investigation as of
mid-January 2000. In the meantime, the KFOR command in Pec received
information that three of the five kidnapped Serbs had been released
shortly after being abducted, and that they had been transferred to
Montenegro. The HLC investigated these allegations and found them to be
nothing but rumors.

The List of "Serbian War Criminals"

The local KLA group from Orahovac drew up a list of "Serbian war
criminals" and delivered it to KFOR in June. In one of its reports, AFP
quoted KLA official Selim Gashi as saying that the KLA's list included
the Serbs who had planned and carried out the massacre of 300 people in
the villages of Velika Krusa, Bela Crkva and Celina. Former Orahovac
mayor Andjelko Kolasinac was at the top of the list, along with Zlatko
Perovic, a policeman from the village of Zociste, and Zoran Stanisic,
leader of the local unit of the Tigers paramilitary organization, whose
commander was Zeljko "Arkan" Raznjatovic. By the end of 1999, a total of
14 Serbs from that list had been arrested. In December, they were
transferred from the Prizren prison to the prison in Mitrovica.

According to the vast majority of local Albanians, all of the Serbs from
Orahovac and the nearby village of Velika Hoca, both those who have fled
and those who have stayed in town, took part in crimes against
Albanians, which is why the Albanians cannot coexist with them any
longer. They say that the Serbs who were killed or abducted after KFOR's
arrival were punished for their crimes. However, once the conversation
becomes more personal, local Albanians start speaking from their heart,
admitting that "it's hard for them (their Serb neighbors), because they
have to suffer for what others did before fleeing."

Accountability for the Persecution of Minority Members

Orahovac is an example of how the international administration - UNMIK,
the OSCE and KFOR - has supported the KLA's violence most openly, on
the principles that "every Serb is a war criminal" and that anyone has
the right to accuse, try and sentence a Serb. Even though their highest
representatives, including chief administrator Bernard Kouchner, have
always been careful to condemn every single murder of a Serb, Romany or
Muslim, they have also always noted that the international community
understands very well why a murder has been committed, calling on the
perpetrators and the entire Albanian community to forgive and forget.
This is how crimes -- murders, abductions, forcible evictions or
punishments for using the Serbian language -- have come to be seen as
extreme emotional reactions on the part of members of the Albanian
ethnic community to a decade of repression at the hands of the Serbian
authorities, which has consequently rendered these criminal acts

By accepting this interpretation of political and ethnic violence, the
international community has pardoned any crime against members of ethnic

Serbia: Suspects in Murders of Albanians Detained

Igor Radocaj (31) from Republika Srpska, a volunteer in the Yugoslav
Army, was arrested on June 15, 1999, on suspicion of murdering two
Albanians--Ismail Bekeri and Hidajet Cena -- on June 11 in Orahovac, and
of stealing 400 Deutsche marks and 1,500 Yugoslav dinars from them.
Several dozen Yugoslav Army volunteers protested Radocaj's arrest
outside the District Court building in Nis on August 12, 1999, and
demanded his release. Belgrade media quoted these volunteers as saying
that Radocaj was a member of a 70-man unit of volunteers from Serbia,
Macedonia, Bulgaria, Republika Srpska, Russia, Italy and France who
fought in Kosovo. It is not known if Radocaj has been indicted.

On November 10 of last year, the District Prosecutor's Office in
Pozarevac indicted police reservist Boban Petrovic (32) from Velika
Hoca, near Orahovac, for the May 9, 1999 murder of Ismail Durguti (60).
After being beaten up by Yugoslav Army members, Durguti was allegedly
killed by Petrovic at Ria, a village between Orahovac and Velika Hoca.
Djordje Simic, the police officer from whom Petrovic is said to have
taken the official-issue pistol with which he killed Durguti, has been
charged with attempted murder. Boban Petrovic is also accused of
murdering Shefkije and Sezari Miftari outside their home in Orahovac. No
trial date has yet been set.

The Future of the Orahovac Serbs

The Serbs in Orahovac live in great fear that their lives may be in
danger with every step they take toward the center of a town that once
belonged to both Serbs and Albanians. The Serbs who were company
managers and political officials have escaped to safety in Serbia, where
they now “encourage” the Serbs who are still in Orahovac to stay there.
The remaining Serbs include people who are waiting for the next convoy
to leave town but also people who are struggling to ensure the survival
of their families. The elementary school opened with UNMIK's help and
attended by about 200 children, from the first to eighth grades, is the
first social and cultural institution given to the Serbs.

The bus that now operates between Orahovac and Mitrovica once a week,
with KFOR's help, allows Serbs to leave Orahovac unless they are on the
list of alleged war criminals, and to return to their homes safely. The
Orahovac Serbs have agreed, in the name of good will, that their
delegation should visit prisons in Serbia and inform the Serbian public
about this. Meanwhile, on January 5, the District Court in Po`arevac
released 10 Orahovac Albanians who had spent 17 months in prison without

The Serbs who are struggling to survive make no secret of the fact that
Serb forces committed crimes against Orahovac Albanians. They do not
hide their shame for the humiliation the Albanians were subjected to
during NATO's bombing. The military and police authorities prohibited
the Serbs from selling bread and flour to the Albanians. Many, however,
did so secretly. Since then, the Orahovac Serbs have gathered at the
Orthodox Church and demanded justice: "Let the law, equal for all,
replace rumors and reports against alleged war criminals."


Related links:


Human Rights Violations Against Kosovo Serbs in 1998 HRW
Dissapearances of Serbs and other non-Albanians Jan - July 1998 HLC

The leader of KLA Mr. Thaci has many times rejected any connection with the KLA violence against minorities. The following photos are taken during his visit to Orahovac in August and September 1999, after the war.

Hashim Thaci with Tara, the UCK leader of Orahovac
Thaci and Tara, the local UCK leader of Orahovac. Could he not know
what was the KLA behavior in Orahovac against Serbs and minorities

Hashim Thaci in Orahovac, Sep 99
Hashim Thaci in his visit to Orahovac