The Promise of Justice : Burning the Evidence  

Images of a Massacre | A Calculated Risk | Trepca
Bodies to Dust | "No One Would Dare Stop Us"
Milosevic's Hidden Hand? | Zahac's "Disappeared"
Blood Money | Revenge or Justice

Revenge or Justice

To move on, families want answers. But even partial information will be slow to arrive, if ever. Late last year, the UN War Crimes Tribunal concluded its exhumations in Kosovo. Over the past two years, UN investigators have unearthed some 4,000 bodies and examined hundreds of gravesites in Kosovo. Investigators say they've collected enough of that kind of evidence. But thousands more people remain officially listed as missing, including Serbs and Gypsies. Among the missing Albanians: possibly 1,500 bodies burned in the blast furnace at the Trepca lead refinery.

It is the uncertain fate of many of Kosovo's missing that helps keep the conflict alive and swells the desire for revenge. Several of the Serbian fighters who took part in burning Albanian bodies—including Dusko—expressed no remorse. In fact, Dusko only wishes he could have done more.

"Had it not been for the NATO bombing," he said, "I guarantee you we would have driven out all 2 million Albanians from Kosovo. ... You gotta know, Albanians are stupid. They're a dirty people. And this hatred has been around for 600 years. It will never go away. In 30 years, or whenever these NATO troops and these human rights monitors leave, we'll start fighting again."

The families of the 14 Albanian men executed at the bus garage in Zahac also say forgiveness is impossible, at least until the fate of their loved ones is known. Fejze Hysenai, who lost his 31-year-old son in the massacre, says he'd feel at peace if the killers are arrested and brought to justice. But he'd gratefully accept information instead. "I will always suffer with this wound," Hysenai said. "If I could only know where the bones of my son are, maybe I would be able to forgive many things. If they agree to tell me where my son is, dead or alive, I'd ask for nothing more."

Given the number of Albanian bodies that probably will never be recovered, including those incinerated at Trepca, the issue of the missing is likely to shadow efforts underway to reconcile Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo. Memories last long in the Balkans. For thousands of families of Kosovo's missing, the only certainty is a never-ending grief.

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