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Kosovo Trial Hears Dukagjin Testimony

Prosecution witness provides picture of KLA capabilities in strategically important region during Kosovo conflict.
By Will Henley
A witness in the trial of former Kosovo Liberation commander Ramush Haradinaj this week testified that KLA forces in the Dukagjin area were “well disciplined” and apparently well armed.

Colonel John Crosland, former British Army Defence Attache with the Yugoslav Army, also told the court that KLA weaponry is believed to have come from Albania, as did ammunition used in local killings.

Under prosecution examination, Colonel Crosland told the court that he met Haradinaj - the former prime minister of Kosovo - three times in 1998. During his initial visit to the KLA headquarters in the village of Gllogjan/Glodjane in spring that year, Haradinaj “indicated he controlled the Dukagjin area” and spoke of its “importance”.

The visit was initiated by sources in Pristina, the witness told the court.

The witness described seeing light Kalashnikov rifles, machine guns and anti-tank rocket propelled grenade launchers during his visit to the village. The colonel described the meeting as very “cordial” and “friendly” and said he and Haradinaj discussed “various topics”.

He said he witnessed 15 to 20 uniformed people around the house. “The majority I saw were well disciplined,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Crosland testified that the majority of KLA arms were believed to have come from Albania. The witness told the court that the Dukagjin area was a main supply route from Albania through to Kosovo.

The prosecution’s examination seems to be part of a strategy to demonstrate that Haradinaj was well organised and armed and valued the area’s strategic significance.

Later in court proceedings, the colonel described a September 1998 visit to an alleged massacre site at Radonjic/Radoniq lake canal, within the Dukagjin area. The visit was made at the invitation of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission and the Serbian ministry of interior. According to the witness, the site was “taped off like an accident area”. There were “between six and eight bodies in the water and, I think, one or two on the bank,” Crosland told the court.

The witness recalled the victims - both Albanian and Serb, according to prosecutors - were dressed in civilian clothing, but said he was not allowed to search the bodies.

Later forensic assessment in the UK indicated the ammunition found at the scene was from Albania, Crosland said, and may have been used by KLA forces.

Ramush Haradinaj and co-defendants Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj are accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed between March 1, 1998 and September 30, 1998. They stand charged with persecution and murder as crimes against humanity in relation to the Radonjic/Radoniq lake killings.

The trial continues next week.

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