Junio 30, 2007

Kosovo - Fate of missing still unaccounted for

RTV B92 New

BELGRADE -- The fate of one third of the missing in Kosovo has
to date been clarified, Francois Stamm has said.

"The job ahead of us is going to be much harder since concrete and accurate pieces of information regarding the fate of the missing are scarce. All sides should increase efforts in pursuing information,"

Stamm, head of the working group for the missing persons in Kosovo, said.

A meeting of a working group composed of the representatives of the missing persons commissions from Belgrade and Pristina noted that the situation called for speeding up the pace of the working group's efforts.

The meeting was held in Belgrade Friday.

"Members of both commissions call on permanent observers from
the international community and representatives of the families of
the missing to assume a more active and constructive role in the
working group," the statement released after the meeting said.

Stamm appealed to institutions in Pristina and Belgrade to confirm
their resolve displayed at the beginning of the process, and engage
in cooperation on this extremely important humanitarian issue.

According to the latest data, as many as 2,047 persons are still considered missing in Kosovo, including 500 Serbs, 1,300 Albanians
and 200 members of other ethnic communities.

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Junio 8, 2007

Digging begins at suspected mass grave of Kosovo victims

Agence France-Presse
5 June 2007

RUDNICA, Serbia, June 5 (AFP) - Forensic experts began excavation work Tuesday
at a suspected Serbian mass grave thought to contain the remains of up to 500
ethnic Albanian victims of Kosovo's 1998-1999 war.

The suspected grave site, at an old quarry now partly overgrown by grass and
flooded with water, is about two kilometres (1.2 miles) from Serbia's
administrative border with Kosovo province.

The dig, expected to last five days, is being conducted by Serbian authorities
in the presence of officials from Kosovo and the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe.

Also on hand were forensic experts from the Sarajevo-based International
Commission for Missing Persons, which said it was ready to identify any remains
through DNA analysis.

"We are assisting this investigation with the participation of our forensic
experts," said ICMP spokesman Vedran Persic.

"We're also ready to eventually identify (any victims) as we have a data base
with 84,000 (DNA) samples from families whose members went missing" during the
Balkan wars of the 1990s, Persic said.

A source told AFP that the investigation was launched based on a protected
witness' account before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former

"The location was provided by the Hague tribunal. An anonymous witness said
that they saw trucks dumping the bodies," the source said on condition of

The quarry could contain the remains of between 350 and 500 bodies of ethnic
Albanians killed by Serb forces during the Kosovo conflict, according to
various local media reports.

The suspected victims were believed to have been moved across the border
for burial in a bid to cover up atrocities carried out by the forces loyal
to the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.

"This is an ideal place" for concealing the remains of war crimes victims,
Kosovo official Arif Mucolli told AFP.

"For now we are only suspicious. Whether these suspicions are confirmed remains
to be seen," said Mucolli, a missing persons adviser to Kosovo Prime Minister
Agim Ceku.

Kosovo has been under United Nations stewardship since June 1999 when a NATO
assault drove out Serb forces waging a brutal crackdown on separatist ethnic
Albanian rebels and their civilian supporters.

The UN Security Council is to decide soon on a plan that would make Kosovo
independent under international supervision -- an idea backed by the West but
adamantly opposed by Serbia and its traditional ally Russia.

Ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo by a ratio of
about nine to one.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, some 2,398 people,
most of them ethnic Albanians, remain listed as missing almost eight years
since the end of the Kosovo conflict.

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Diciembre 6, 2006


New York, Dec 6 2006 2:00PM

Over half of the more than 5,200 people reported missing in Kosovo after the 1998-99 conflict have been accounted for, mostly through identification of their remains, but concerns for those still missing is one of the most pressing issues in the ethnic Albanian-majority Serbian province, the United Nations mission there said today.

“It is of the highest priority to find the missing persons and identify the bodies,” UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (<"http://www.unmikonline.org">UNMIK) Director of Justice Albert Moskowitz reported. The UN has run the province ever since Western Forces drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid atrocities committed in ethnic fighting.

“Up to date, there are around 530 individuals whose remains have not yet been identified. To clarify the fate of the missing is a long and sensitive process and it is of special importance for the families affected. It is also essential to find the missing in order to help stabilize the region,” Mr. Moskowitz added.

A total of 5,206 people were reported missing after the conflict. By the end of last month, 2,150 persons (Kosovo Albanians, Kosovo Serbs and other ethnic minorities) where still listed missing, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

>From 2002, the UN Office on Missing Persons and Forensics (<"http://www.unmikonline.org/justice/ompf_index.htm">OMPF) succeeded in reducing the number by over 50 per cent. OMPF was created in 2002 as a division in the UNMIK Department of Justice. Today, the office consists of 55 staff members who work to clarify the fate of the missing persons.

As of 1 December, 1,807 missing persons have been pronounced dead and have had their remains returned to their families. In addition, about 100 missing persons have been identified, but the families have chosen not to accept the bodies until other members of their families or communities are found so that they can be buried together.

OMPF has developed a Memory Project to create a public record of the experiences of the families of the missing. The first initiative used theatre to explore the painful issues facing the families and was compiled into the publication Voices. The second, an oral histories initiative, video-records interviews with the families to build a historical archive.

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