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Kosovo Serb Testifies About Son’s Abduction by Guerrillas

A Serb witness told the trial of Kosovo’s ex-President Hashim Thaci and three co-defendants in The Hague that his son was seized by Kosovo Liberation Army fighters in 1999 and disappeared without trace.

Predrag Dedic, a 91-year-old Serb, told the war crimes and crimes against humanity trial of former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and three co-defendants on Thursday at the Kosovo Special Chambers in The Hague that his son was taken away by Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA fighters in June 1999, in Rahovec/Orahovac.

Prosecutor Cezary Mihailzcuck, summarising previous testimony given by the witness, explained to the court that around June 18, 1999, “the witness’s son was kidnapped by four KLA soldiers, wearing KLA uniforms and armed, in the presence of his mother. The wife of the witness was told that the son would be taken to the police station for an interview.”

The son, Boban, who according to the witness was 37 years old and a reservist in the Serbian armed forces, was never seen again after the alleged abduction.

The witness told the court that he went to the police station to ask about his son and a KLA guerrilla directed him to the fire department building, which according to the witness Dedic, was being used as a detention centre.

“I know it was a detention centre. Then they took the people from this centre and killed them,” the witness claimed, based on what he had been told by others.

The witness testified that in June 1999, the Serbian armed forces had notified the Kosovo Serbs that it would withdraw from Rahovec/Orahovac as part of the agreement to end the war, but he and his wife had decided to stay in their home.

“My wife didn’t want to leave and I didn’t want to leave and so we stayed there, but a part of the population left with the army,” he said.
He said his house was then looted and claimed he was forced into selling it by ethnic Albanians.

“It was robbed, they stole everything. They also came and requested that I sell it to them for 8,000 [German] marks. The Albanians came and asked me to sell the house, they blackmailed me,” Dedic told the court.

He claimed that he was told if he did not it that day, the price would be reduced to 5,000 Deutschmarks the next day. “So I sold it that day for 8,000 marks with the mediation of another Albanian. I gave 500 marks to the person who facilitated the sale,” he said.

The witness also talked about a battle between Serbian forces and the KLA that happened on July 17 to 20, 1998, claiming that many Serb civilians had weapons and ammunition which were being distributed by the Serbian authorities at the time. He said he didn’t witness any abductions of Serb civilians by the KLA at that point.

However, he and his wife had decided to stay in their home. ”

Thaci and his co-defendants, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi, are accused of bearing individual and command responsibility for crimes that were mainly committed against prisoners held at KLA detention facilities in Kosovo and neighbouring Albania, including 102 murders.

The defendants, who all became senior politicians in Kosovo after the war, allegedly committed the crimes between at least March 1998 and September 1999, during and just after the war with Serbian forces. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers were set up in 2015 by the Kosovo parliament, acting under pressure from Kosovo’s Western allies, who believed that Kosovo’s own justice system was not robust enough to try KLA cases and protect witnesses from intimidation. Previous trials at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal were marred by witness-tampering.

Source : Balkan Insight