Youth Initiative for Human Rights’ letter to Minister Nebojša Stefanović: “After a mass grave is discovered, arrests should follow rather than praises for the unit which was involved in concealing the bodies.”

Minister Stefanović,

Eighteen years have passed since the bodies of 744 civilians – Kosovo Albanians killed in 1999 during the war in Kosovo were found at the police range of the Special Anti-Terrorist Units-s (SAJ) in the Batajnica suburb, only some 15 km away from downtown Belgrade, 

The Serbian Interior Ministry, as well as SAJ, whose celebration you have attended today, were involved in concealing the bodies of victims of war crimes in Kosovo (1999-2001) at the SAJ Training Center in Batajnica. For this reason, on the occasion such as the celebration of the Day of the Unit, as well as on any similar occasion, you must show responsibility and at least express respect for 744 civilians whose bodies had been concealed at the shooting range of the Interior Ministry’s unit for two whole years.

In addition to 744 bodies of Kosovo Albanians in Batajnica, mass graves with the remains of Kosovo Albanians were also found in Petrovo Selo (61 bodies), near Perućac Lake (84 bodies) and in the Rudnica mass grave (52 bodies).

We remind you that, although the war in Kosovo ended two decades ago, the crimes of the Serbian police, military and paramilitary forces against Albanian population are still a taboo topic in our country. However, the killing and concealing of 744 bodies gives you as the Interior Minister a certain responsibility to examine all persons who were responsible for the concealment of bodies operation

According to Humanitarian Law Center’s data, the operation of removing the bodies of Albanian civilians from Kosovo and their their concealed burial in Serbia was planned at the highest levels of the state. Those involved in executing the order to conceal the bodies are prominent persons in Serbian society today: Obrad Stevanović, Petar Zeković, Dragan Ilić, Vladimir Aleksić, Desimir Radić, Goran Radosavljević Guri and many other heads of police departments and police stations of the Serbian Interior Ministry.

In Humanitarian Law Center’s Dossier “The cover-up of evidence of crimes during the war in Kosovo: THE CONCEALMENT OF BODIES OPERATION”, it is established that more than 100 high-rank officers of the Serbian Interior Ministry were involved in the operation of concealing the bodies.

Minister Stefanović, after a mass grave is discovered, arrests should follow rather than praises for the unit which was involved in concealing the bodies.

On this occasion, we are calling on you and the Ministry of Interior you are leading to examine all allegations from the above mentioned HLC Dossier and establish the responsibility of police officers who were involved in the concealment of bodies operation and prosecute them accordingly.

An apology to the families of victims and taking responsibility for the crimes and operations carried out by the Interior Ministry during and immediately after the war in Kosovo is least you can do as a current Interior Minister.


Youth Initiative for Human Rights

In Belgrade,

December 18, 2019