Kralan

04. April 1999.

The village of Kraljane/Kralan is located in the Municipality of Đakovica/Gjakovë, about 20 km north of the city of Đakovica/Gjakovë and about 25 km east of Dečani/Deçane. On April 4th 1999, Serbian forces killed 78 Kosovo Albanian civilians.

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Yugoslavian Army (YA) documents clearly point to the presence of the 125th MtBr in Kraljane/Kralan at the time when the crime was committed on April 4th, 1999. Moreover, the data from these documents indicate that members of the 125th MtBr were at the crime scene and that the executed civilians were under their control immediately before the killing.

According to the orders of the Priština Corps and the Joint Command, the 5th Combat Group of the 125th MtBr was engaged, together with MUP forces, in operations against the KLA in Kraljane/Kralan.

The Priština Corps issued an order on “Engaging forces of the Priština Corps to secure and control the territory and block the area of Jablanica” on April 1st, 1999 in which the 5th Combat Group of the 125th MtBr received the following task:

“take the general area of the Kraljane village... and be on stand-by for active combat operation along the Kraljane village-Crna Gora- Dašinovac village axis.”

On the following day, April 2nd, 1999, the Joint Commend for Kosovo and Metohija issued the “Order to smash and destroy the SHTF in the Jablanica sector”, where the task of the 5th Combat Group of the 125th MtBr was to:

“provide support for MUP troops in smashing and destroying the SHTF along the axis: Kraljane village- Jablanica village...”

A Combat Report of the 125th MtBr and the War Diary of the 5th Combat Group of the 125th MtBr confirm the presence of the 125th MtBr in Kraljane/Kralan at the time of the crime. In the “Regular Combat Report” of the 125th MtBr from April 3rd and 4th 1999, it is stated that the 5th Combat Group is being “engaged according to the decision of the Commander of the Priština Corps [YA Priština Corps], in the area of: Kraljane village, Šaban Mahala village, Calat Mahala village.”

In the Wartime Diary of the 5th Combat Group of the 125th MtBr, it is stated that during the following three days, until April 5th, 1999, the 5th Combat Group together with the Special Police Unit (SPU) is executing active operations in the region of Jablanica [the village next to Kraljane/Kralan].

The presence of the 125th MtBr and its cooperation with the MUP in the operation in Kraljane/Kralan was also confirmed by the Commander of the 125th MtBr, Dragan Živanović. In his testimony before the ICTY in the Šainović et al. case, Dragan Živanović stated that his troops provided support to the MUP troops in the Jablanica Operation, in early April 1999.

On April 3rd 1999, the Priština Corps Command issued an order to the Command of the 252nd ArBr (Armoured Brigade): “By 0700 hours on 4 April 1999, the Commander of the 252nd ArBr will place one tank platoon (three tanks) and 1 mechanized platoon (3 infantry combat vehicles with crews and loading area) under the command of the Commander of CG[combat group] 5/ 125. MtBr in the sector of Kraljane village.”

In the War Diary of the 5th Combat Group of the 125th MtBr, for April 2nd, 1999 it is recorded that the 5th Combat Group, along with the 24th Special Police Unit (SPU), took control of the village of Kraljane/Kralan and during that operation “250 people were taken prisoner and into custody, and around 3,000 refugees were sent in the direction of Kramavik (Rakovina).”

The order of the Joint Command for Kosovo and Metohija dated April 2nd 1999 contained the following order: “Demonstrate to the loyal civilian population the need for a fair attitude…

This order represents a violation of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, which prescribe general protection of civilian population and prohibit the adverse distinction between civilians on any grounds.

This type of an instruction appeared in a number of orders related to the operations of the 125th MtBr.

The order of the Joint Command for Kosovo and Metohija from April 2nd 1999 contains another disputable instruction: “Engage armed non-Shiptar population in securing military features and communications…”

This order engaging civilians in the armed conflict, thus depriving them of the status of protected persons represents a violation of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, which prescribe the general protection of the civilian population.

During his testimony in the Šainović et al. case, the Prosecutor asked Dragan Živanović if the 125th MtBr participated in the arming and engagement of the local Serb population in the YA and MUP operations. Živanović denied this claiming that this part of the Order referred to the civilian defence and civilian protection authorities. However, the Prosecutor reminded him that the protection of civilians included the Kosovo Albanian population as well, hence this Order could not have referred to the civilian defence and civilian protection authorities.

This type of instruction appeared in a number of orders related to the operations of the 125th MtBr.