By April 2, 1999, the 37th mtbr had a full complement and was transferred from Raska to Kosovo, to the Drenica area (Glogovac, Klina, Srbica), as per a plan known as “Th under 98."
More than 4,500 members of the 37th mtbr, were split into combat groups, with the support of 31 tanks, one 105mm Howitzer, a platoon of 82 mm and 120 mm mortars, under the command of Colonel Dikovic and his subordinate commanders and battalion commanders of the base units, began the planned “cleansing” of the Drenica area from the “Shiptar terrorist forces.”
Around 7.00 a.m. on April 17, 1999, a unit of about 100 soldiers and paramilitaries entered the village Kozica/Kozhicë. In groups of two or three, the soldiers went from house to house, forcing their way in and under threat of death demanded from household members and Albanian refugees who had fl ed from other villages, money, jewelry, valuables and other property. About 115 Albanian girls, women, children and older women were shut in Abedin Durmishi’s family house. On the ground floor of the house, they locked 31 women and children. Soon afterward they brought in another 88 Albanian women and children, 28 of whom were locked on the ground floor, and 60 on the second floor of Durmishi’s house. Two days later, several VJ soldiers took 27 women and children from the group of 31 women and children on the ground floor and transported them to the village of Cirez/Qirez. There they were handed over to a group of 10 soldiers dressed in “red-brown camouflage uniforms,” and led by an officer with rank and military insignia on his shoulder. Threatening to kill them all, together with their children, the soldiers took away their identity papers, money and jewelry, and then two soldiers led them to a barn and locked them in it. From the imprisoned group, they would occasionally pull several girls and younger women, of which some were in advanced pregnancy (between four and eight months). Several times they took the women and girls out of the barn and forced each of them to have intercourse and also exploited and abused them sexually in other ways. On the same day, five of the raped girls and three elderly Albanians, Miridije Dibrani, Tahir Shalaku and Fahrije Ademi, were separated from the group, taken out of the barn and later (the precise date is unknown) killed and thrown into three wells in Cirez/Qirez, where their bodies were found and identified in July in 1999.
* 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.