Lubeniq

01. April 1999.

Ljubenić/Lubeniq is located in the Municipality of Peć/Pejë, some 7 kilometers south of the city of Peć/Pejë at the exit from the main road in the direction of Dečani/Deçan. On April 1st, 1999, Serbian forces killed 59 Kosovo Albanian civilians.

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The Šakali (Jackals) unit was part of the 177th MTD (military-territorial detachment) Peć that was subordinate to the 125th MtBr (motorized brigade). According to the rules of international law, Dragan Živanović, as the Commander of the 125th MtBr, was obliged to undertake all necessary measures to prevent crime happening in Ljubenić/Lubeniq. That is, once he found out about any crime committed, he was obliged to report the perpetrators of the crime to the prosecution authorities.

In his testimony in the Ćuška/Qyshk case, the defendant Abdulah Sokić said that the Šakali (Jackals)unit was called the “intervention platoon of the 177th MTD Peć,” which was their official name and not the name “Šakali” (Jackals).

While testifying in the Ćuška case, Zoran Rašković, a member of the Šakali unit, pointed to the relationship between the Šakali unit and the 177th MTD Peć:

“... if people received their salaries from the 177th and the military and in the triangle it was written 177th, then we must have been registered somewhere as part of the 177th, but I do not know how it was all regulated officially in the paperwork, I know what the situation was in the field.”

According to a Yugoslav Army (YA) document, the 177th MTD Peć was formally placed under the command of the 125th Mtbr on April 25th, 1999, which was 24 days after the crime in Ljubenić/Lubeniq was committed.

However, documents from the 125th MtBr, the testimonies of several witnesses before the Trial Chamber of the Belgrade War Crimes Department in the case against members of the 177th MTD for crimes committed in Ćuška, Zahać, Pavljane and Ljubenić [the Ćuška/Qyshk case] and the testimony of Dragan Živanović before the ICTY in the Haradinaj et al. case lead one to the conclusion that the 177th MTD was under the command of the 125th MtBr at the time when the crime in Ljubenić/Lubeniq was committed.

In his testimony before the ICTY, the former Commander of the 125th MtBr Dragan Živanović stated that the 177th MTD came under his command in “early April”.

Some other military documents and testimonies of YA officers and soldiers provide a basis for the conclusion that the 177th MTD Peć was placed under the command of the 125th MtBr before April 25th 1999, as part of the Wartime Plan, that is, before the mass execution of Kosovo Albanian civilians in Ljubenić/Lubeniq.

Duško Antić, who was the Commander of the Peć Military Department in 1999, during his testimony in the Ćuška case stated the following:

Witness Duško Antić: “... according to the mobilisation and wartime plans the Military Department did not have an area of responsibility as of March 24th, since a Military Department is not a combat unit, but rather combat brigades had the area of responsibility...”

Presiding Judge: “Good, let’s now talk about what happened in practice?”

Witness Duško Antić: “... The Military Department Peć was placed under the command of the 125th Brigade...”

...

Presiding Judge: “And Toplica [Miladinović, Commander 177th VTO Peć] was placed under the command of whom?”

Witness Duško Antić: “Under the Command of the 125th Brigade as it was prescribed in the wartime plan.”

Presiding Judge: “And who was the Commander of the 125th?”

Witness Duško Antić: “General Živanović was the Commander.”

...

Presiding Judge: “And who exactly had the command of the military in Peć, of the 177th MTD, was it you or Toplica Miladinović?”

Witness Duško Antić: “Toplica Miladinović was the Commander of the Military Territoral Detachment and it was part of the 125th Brigade.”

While testifying as a defendant in the Ćuška/Qyshk case, Toplica Miladinović, the Commander of the 177th MTD Peć stated that he received orders from the 125th MtBr.

Presiding Judge: “And what about the thing you said to the Police, ‘I received assignments at that time from the Chief of Staff or the HQ Commander MTD Peć or from the Chief of Staff of the 125th MtBr,’ you did not mention to us today that you received orders from the Chief of Staff of the 125th MtBr, the Lieutenant Colonel, his name was Nikolić I think?”

The defendant Toplica Miladinović: “I do not know that name, I do not know if that is correct, but that was the fact we were literally subordinate, meaning the Military Department and the units that were there, they fought the war.”

Presiding Judge: “No, just tell us if you received orders from Lieutenant Colonel Nikolić, the Chief of Staff of the 125th Motorized Brigade?”

The defendant Toplica Miladinović: “Yes.”

Answering a question put by the legal representative of the injured parties in the Ćuška/Qyshk case concerning the relationship between the 177th MTD Peć and the 125th MtBr, the defendant Toplica Miladinović said:


“Yesterday I tried to… I think it was yesterday that I said that we were subordinate in parallel to the 125th Brigade according to this military, that is territorial criterion, meaning that, you know, the Brigade was the oldest. This means that I was subordinate to them only in some combat elements.“

Witness Zoran Rašković, former member of the Šakali (Jackals) unit who testified in the Ćuška/Qyshk case said that the YA and the MUP were, at that time, informed about the crime in Ljubenić/Lubeniq.

Presiding Judge: “Can you give examples of some executions of civilians?”

Witness Zoran Rašković: “Well, madam, to me the most horrifying memory was of the pile of people in Ljubenić, you know, people in slippers, old shoes, without weapons.”

Presiding Judge: “When was Ljubenić?”

Witness Zoran Rašković: “In early April, it was the first massacre I had seen in my life, and it was just the way I described it just now.”

Presiding Judge: “Well, are you trying to tell me that people knew about these events?”

Witness Zoran Rašković: “Well of course, the military knew, the police knew, I do not know if the general population knew about it but people in Peć talked about it, it was well known that wherever Mrtvi [late Minić Nebojša, Šakali Commander] trod, he would ravage the place; so, wherever he went that place was gone; in most cases Mrtvi would kill with ease, it was very easy for him to kill.”

Presiding Judge: “You mean in the sense that the Army Command was aware of it?”

Witness Zoran Rašković: “I was not in the Army Command, but the Command not knowing that would have been...”

Presiding Judge: “I mean it was known to the extent that...?”

Witness Zoran Rašković: “Well of course, I mean it would have been absurd and illogical that the Command did not know about it, those were not logs, those were piles of people.”