Celinё

25. March 1999.

The village of Celina/Celinё is located in the southern part of the municipality of Orahovac/Rahovec.The members of Serbian forces killed 81 Albanian civilians between March 25th and 27th 1999.

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The Joint Command for Kosovo and Metohija issued an ‘Order to provide assistance to the MUP in crushing and destroying STS in Orahovac, Suva Reka, and V. Kruša area’ to the units of the Priština Corps on March 23rd, 1999, which defined the task of the 549th MtBr in the area of the villages of Celina, Velika Kruša, Mala Kruša, Pirane, Zojić, and Medvedce.

In the basis of this order from the Joint Command, on March 23rd, 1999 the Commander of the 549th MtBr, Božidar Delić, issued an ‘Order on Destroying STS in the wider area of the village of Retimlje, lifting the blockade on the Suva Reka-Orahovac road and establishing control of the territory’ in which he issued an assignment to Combat Group 2 to cooperate with the 4th Company of the Đakovica Special Police Units and to ‘carry out an energetic attack and search the village of Bela Crkva, come out of the Brnjača line, Brod elevation point tt. 432, tt. 440 in a coordinated action and cut off and destroy STS in the village of Celine and the village of Nogavac…’.

On the same day, the War Diary of the 2nd Motorized Battalion, records the following: ‘The blockade was lifted and the villages of Bela Crkva, Celina, Nogavac, and a part of V. Kruša were cleansed’. It is claimed in the ‘Analysis of the operations carried out by the 549th MtBr to destroy STS in the general areas of Retimlje and to remove the Suva Reka-Orahovac roadblock’ dated March 30th, 1999 that the ‘23rd Detachment of the Special Police Unit made a strong breakthrough from the direction of Bela Crkva and Brnajča towards the village of Celina and Mala Hoča…

In his testimony given in the Milutinović et al. case, Delić denied that his units surrounded or shelled Celina/Celinё. He added that on March 25th, police forces neutralized the KLA in the village and that his units provided assistance with light artillery fire, directing the fire above the village at the hillsides where the KLA had dug trenches, and not at houses in the village. Vuković confirmed this, adding that when he went through the village later on, around 10:00, police units had already searched the village and “terrorists” had been “neutralized”. Vuković stated that at that time he did not see a single civilian in Celina/ Celinё nor did he see members of the VJ or police setting houses on fire, destroying mosques or looting the village.