Ternje

25. March 1999.

The village of Trnje/Ternje is located in the southwest of the municipality of Suva Reka/Suharekë.The members of Serb forces killed 36 Kosovo Albanian civilians in this village between March 25th and 30th, 1999.

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The commander of the 549th MtBr, Delić, issued the ‘Order on destroying STS in the general area of Retimlje, lifting the blockade on the Suva Reka – Orahovac road and establishing the control of the territory’ on March 23rd, 1999. The order contains the following instruction to the units: ‘Forces to seal off territory: Parts of the poz.b. [logistics battalion], čv. had bardPVO /expansion unknown/ shall seal off the following line: tt. 357, the village of Trnje, the lake, the Mistra feature at tt. 330, the village of Smać, tt. 316, the village of Donja Srbica’.

In their testimonies in the Milošević and Milutinović et al. cases, soldiers from the Logistics Battalion of the 549th MtBr, K-32 [K-54]137 and K-41 [K-82]138 described the attack by the VJ on the village of Trnje/ Ternje which commenced on March 25th, 1999, and in which they participated. Pavle Gavrilović, the then commander of the Logistics Battalion, challenged the statements given by witnesses K-32 and K-41 in their testimonies in the Milutinović et al. case.

According to the testimonies of K-32 and K-41, some 80 to 100 soldiers from the Logistics Battalion arrived in trucks at around 04:00 on March 25th to the hill above Trnje/Ternje, on the southern side of the village. Officers from the Logistics Battalion were also there – the Battalion Commander, Captain Pavle Gavrilović, his deputy, Sergeant Gligorević (first name unknown), and Lieutenant Dragiša Jaćimović, who were in charge of their platoons, Sergeant Rajko Kozlina and Staff Sergeant Muhamed Fejzić. According to the statement given by witness K-42, which was corroborated by the statement given by witness K-32, soon Gavrilović “pointed his hand in the direction of Trnje/Ternje and said that ‘no one should be left alive here today’ and later once they had understood the order given to them, they headed towards us. Our sergeant turned towards us. He told us to assemble our company…” After this the village was shelled for twenty minutes with the anti-aircraft guns of the Logistics Battalion and during this time the villagers ran from their houses and ran away from the village in the direction of the Lešanska River/Lumi i Leshanit.