Yugoslav Army (YA) documents marked “Strictly Confidential” point to
the engagement of the 125th MtBr in operations that took place between
September 22nd and 24th 1998 in the area of the Čičavica Mountain
and specifically in Ošljane/Oshlan at the time the crimes were committed.
According to the Priština Corps Order, the 4th
Combat Group of the 125th MtBr was engaged in Ošljane/Oshlan between
September 22nd and 24th 1998, and, along with with MUP
forces, executed the operation in Čičavica. “The Order to Support MUP Forces in Destroying STF [Sabotage and Terrorist
Forces] in the General Čičavica Sector“ was issued by the Priština Corps
Command on September 19th, 1998 as follows:
“to engage the 125th MtBr to support MUP forces in destroying STF. BG-125-4 [4th Combat Group of 125th
MtBr] with the task: to support attack by the 5th Detachment of the
SPU and the Kosovska Mitrovica company of the SPU. Rout the STF in the
Okraštica, Pantina and Štitarica sectors; use the main forces to rout the STF
and overcome the villages of Ošljane,
Balince, Jezero and Taradža. Support the SPU in breaking up and destroying STF
on Mt. Čičavica, preventing them from falling back to the Sitnica River”.
The presence of the 4th Combat Group of the
125th MtBr in Ošljane/Oshlan between September 22nd and 24th
1998 was also confirmed by a later analysis of the combat operations undertaken
by the 4th Combat Group of the 125th MtBr (CG-4). The
following was written by the Commander of CG-4 to the 125th MtBr
Command “Analysis of Combat Operations”issued
on September 23rd 1998:
“At 0800 hours, artillery preparation began for
an attack on the village of Ošljane,
the school. 82mm mortars fired deep into the area of Šutka mahala. The
auxiliary forces of CG-4, consisting of three platoons of special police units…occupied
the village of Taradža and TT point 746, and organized a firing position there,
controlling Čičavica, Suvo Brdo-Čečen-Galica-Taradža-Ošljane-Balince jezgro, with MUP units providing support.”
Early in the morning of September 22nd,
1998, Serbian forces moved out from the area of Mitrovica/Mitrovicë towards
Ošljane/Oshlan with their heavy artillery. The majority of the residents hid in
the nearby forest because they were scared. The Serbian forces and the KLA
confronted each other at the entrance to the village. The clash lasted for
several hours, after which, the Serbian forces searched the forest where the
residents of Ošljane/Oshlan were hiding.
A group of Kosovo Albanian men hid in the forest
because they feared for their lives. That was the last time that their families
saw them alive. After the withdrawal of the Serbian forces, the bodies of seven
men, with visible bullet wounds were found.
In the morning of September 24th,
in the forest near the village of Ošljane/Oshlan, the Serbian forces
found hidden members of the Mani family, including a pregnant woman and three
juvenile children. When they heard M.M. coughing,
members of the Serbian forces started shooting at him immediately, killing K. M. at the scene. M., yelled: “Don’t
shoot, there are children here,” and the soldiers stopped shooting. After that,
M. was ordered to come towards them. As soon as he approached them, members of
the Serbian forces fired in his direction, killing him outright, in front of
his wife and children.
In his testimony in the Šainović et al. casebefore the ICTY, witness Sabit Kadriu,
from the village of Brusnik/Brusnik, in the Vučitrn/Vushtrri Municipality
(approximately 14 kilometres from Ošljane/Oshlan), stated that the Serbian
forces burned 78 houses during the attack on Ošljane/Oshlan.
After the Serbian forces left Ošljane/Oshlan, CNN reporters arrived in the village and
documented the aftermath of the attack.
* The description of the crime is based on testimonies of
survivors, eyewitnesses and victims' family members given to the Humanitarian
Law Center, national courts or the International Criminal Tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia (ICTY); forensic reports; judgments and transcripts of trials;
media reports and other documents.