Bellacёrkё

25. March 1999.

Members of the Serbian forces killed 65 Kosovo Albanian civilians in this village between March 25th and 28th, 1999.

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The Joint Command for Kosovo and Metohija issued the ‘Order for assistance to MUP [Ministry of the Interior] forces in crushing and destroying STS [Shiptar Terrorist Forces] in the Orahovac, Suva Reka, and V. Kruša area’ on March 23rd, 1999 to the units of the Priština Corps in which the task of the 549th motorized brigade (MtBr) was described in the following manner ‘in a joint action with the VJ and MUP carry out an all-out attack from the all-round support point in the direction of the villages of Bela Crkva, Mala Hoča, Velika Kruša’

On the basis of this order of the Joint Command, the commander of the 549th MtBr, Božidar Delić, issued the ‘Order on destroying STS in the wider area of the village of Retimlje, lifting the blockade of the Suva Reka-Orahovac road and establishing the control of the territory’ on March 23rd, 1999 in which he issued an order to Combat Group 2 to cooperate with the 4th Company of the Đakovica Special Police Units ‘and undertake an energetic attack to search the village of Bela Crkva, and end up at the Brnjača line.

Delić and the Commander of the 2nd Motorized Battalion, Vlatko Vuković, alleged in their testimonies given in the Sainovic et al. case that they passed through Bela Crkva / Bellacёrkё on March 25th, 1999 with their troops but that the VJ did not carry out any operations in the village at that time. In his testimony given in the Milosević case, Delić stated, “My unit was in Bela Crkva/Bellacёrkё on March 25th only. After this it continued operations in other directions. I passed through Bela Crkva/Bellacёrkё on the following days as well… through to April 4th.” When asked by Milošević: “Did you notice any changes during these following days or anything happening in Bela Crkva/Bellacёrkё?”, Delić said: “As far as I am concerned, it was completely normal, just like the first day, I didn’t notice anything.

However, in the war diary of the 2nd motorized battalion of the 549th MtBr, a note for the day of March 25th, reads: ‘The villages of Bela Crkva, Celina, Nogovac, and a part of V. Kruša were blocked and cleansed.’ Vuković added that the VJ did not search the villages since it had already been done by the 23rd Detachment of the Special Police Units from Đakovica and said that he was convinced that no murders of Kosovo Albanians were committed in Bela Crkva/Bellacёrkё because he was in the area at that time.

In the ‘Analysis of operations of the 549th MtBr on the destruction of STS in the wider area of Retimlje and lifting the blockade of the Suva Reka – Orahovac road’, dated March 30th, 1999, it is alleged that a ‘fierce breakthrough of forces of the 23rd Detachment of the Special Police Units from the direction of Bela Crkva and Brnjača towards the villages of Celina and M. Hoča was carried out’.