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

Milosevic's Hidden Hand?

The fact that the cover-up allegedly was conducted by an elite Serbian secret police squad could be powerful evidence against Milosevic and the four other Serbian officials indicted for crimes against humanity. Phil Caine, the Hague Tribunal's chief investigator in Kosovo, said the more bodies that prosecutors can prove were moved or destroyed, the better the case in court. Caine said: "That would tend to show that these acts were not committeed on a local basis, by the local police chief. It's something that was coordinated on a much wider scale, and therefore links directly to Belgrade."


Photo: Stephen Smith


Slobodan Milosevic is directly linked to the Special Operations Unit. This unit is also known as the Frenkies (or Frenki's boys) for the name of its first commander, Franko Simatovic, a powerful secret police official. (Read a description of the Frenkies from fighters' accounts and western military sources.) Dejan Anastasijevic, a Serbian journalist who has covered all the wars in the former Yugoslavia, said the special ops unit was run by Milosevic's closest associates like Jovica Stanisic and Rade Markovic as a kind of secret army. "They [the Special Operations Unit] were not just swat teams or special forces because Yugoslavia already had such units," Anastasijevic said. "This unit was for a long time totally outside any chain of command. But these people are killers, they were Milosevic's Praetorian guard."

Since Slobodan Milosevic fell from power in October, 2000, Serbia's new leaders have refused to enforce an international arrest warrant and hand over the former leader to the Hague Tribunal. Some Serbian officials said, however, that Milosevic will soon face justice in Serbia for alleged involvement in electoral fraud and assassinations of Serbs. But that still leaves in place senior police and military commanders who faithfully served Milosevic. These are the very men who ordered the burning of Albanian bodies at Trepca, according to army and police sources in Serbia.

In addition, the Special Operations Unit, the group that fighters said coordinated the cover-up in Kosovo, is still actively deployed in Serbia, despite calls for its disbandment by Serbian human rights groups. Members of the Special Operations Unit said the evidence destruction in Kosovo involved more than just digging up bodies. They also had a system to enter villages soon after an attack to haul away fresh corpses. In some cases surviving families never got the chance to bury their dead.

This is what apparently happened in a western Kosovo village called Zahac where 14 men were executed in an attack on May 14, 1999.

Next page: Zahac's "Disappeared"

©2018 American Public Media