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Serbian Journalist Testifies About Wartime Detention By Kosovo Fighters

A Serbian journalist told the war crimes trial of Kosovo ex-President Hashim Thaci and three co-defendants in The Hague that he was detained and mistreated by the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1998 but didn’t see the accused.

Nebojsa Radosevic, a former journalist for Serbia’s Tanjug news agency, testified at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers on Monday and Tuesday that he and a Serbian photojournalist were detained and kept in bad conditions by Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA fighters during the war in 1998.

Radosevic told the Hague-based court that after his arrest in October 1998, he was first kept in Shale/Sedlare, then sent to what he thought to be a KLA detention facility in Klecke/Klecka.

He said that “in the 16 days that we were there, we were not mistreated, except for when we first arrived”. He claimed that at one point during his detention, a KLA member had pointed a gun at his mouth and eyes.

The witness said that he had thought he was in Klecke/Klecka because “somebody on the road was mentioning Klecka” and also, after his subsequent release, “at the police station on 28th November they said you were probably taken to Klecka”.

“I never claimed it was Klecka, I said I thought it was,” the witness added.

Kosovo ex-President Hashim Thaci, along with co-defendants Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi, all former senior KLA figures during wartime, are accused of bearing individual and command responsibility for crimes including 102 murders that were mainly committed against prisoners held at KLA detention facilities in Kosovo and neighbouring Albania.

Some of the crimes in the indictment were allegedly committed against the two Serbian journalists.

According to the indictment, “following the arrest of two Serb journalists on or about 18 October 1998, Hashim Thaci, together with Fatmir Limaj, questioned them in Shale/Sedlare”.

The indictment says that the case “attracted the attention of international representatives and, on this occasion, specific instructions were given for the two detainees to be well-treated”.

However on one occasion “a KLA soldier shouted at one of the journalists and put an automatic weapon in his mouth and his eye”.

The indictment also says that the journalists were then transferred to Klecke/Klecka and mistreated, then to Lipjan/Lipljan, “where certain KLA members beat them and threatened one of them with death”, and subsequently to “a third, unknown location, where they were kicked and/or threatened with death”.

Asked on Tuesday if he saw Thaci, Jakup Krasniqi or other KLA operational zone commanders at the detention facility, Radosevic responded: “I did not see any of them there.”

The indictment also claims that “at one point during their detention, these journalists were informed that they had been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment, although no trial was ever held”.

Radosevic told the court on Monday that he had not participated in any trial but was told while in detention that “we were sentenced to 61 days in prison because we entered Kosovo illegally and did not have press identification marks in the car”.

During questioning by Thaci’s lawyer, Gregory Kehoe, on Tuesday, the witness claimed that he was not aware that any permission was necessary.

In a previous hearing on September 11, Kehoe pointed out that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had confirmed that Vladimir Dobricic, who was detained by the KLA together with Radosevic, was a suspect for war crimes in Croatia in 1991.

Source : Balkan Insight