The Promise of Justice : Burning the Evidence  

Photo: Stephen Smith


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


Trepca is a huge mining and industrial complex in northern Kosovo, just outside the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica. Soon after the war, news reports cited refugees who said Serbian forces dumped hundreds of Albanian corpses down Trepca's labyrinth of mine shafts. War crimes investigators searched the mines but found nothing. According to Serbian sources we spoke to for this report, the investigators looked in the wrong place.

Milan served in a secret police unit ordered to collect bodies of Albanians from gravesites and truck them to Trepca. "Trepca is one of the biggest mining complexes in Europe," he said. "It had all sorts of processing plants and furnaces." In all likelihood, this is where the bodies from Izbica ended up, incinerated in the blast furnace of Trepca's lead refinery. "I was told that it was enough heat to destroy everything, every trace of the stuff they call DNA. I didn't even know what DNA was."


Photo: Stephen Smith

Milan provided a detailed description of the process, even drawing diagrams of how the bodies got hauled from the trucks to the furnace. "Here's the tall smokestack," he said. "Here are the conveyors. Over here was the coke. Do you know what coke is? The workers at Trepca told me it was a kind of heavy, dense coal. So on the conveyor you have the coke and the ore, and it all burns at a high temperature in the furnace. That's where we put the bodies."

Another Serbian fighter we interviewed, Branko, also was in a special police unit tasked with destroying evidence. As a driver, Branko said he made more than a dozen trips to Trepca delivering truckloads of corpses.

"The blast furnace was high up, maybe 15 meters high or more," he said. "As I recall, only one of the furnaces was operating. But there were one or two others. They burned at extremely high heat. And that's where the bodies got destroyed."

Next page: Bodies to Dust

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