Krushё e Madhe

25. March 1999.

The village of Velika Kruša/Krushё e Madhe is located in the southern part of the municipality of Orahovac/ Rahovec, alongside the Prizren-Đakovica/Gjakovё main road, some 15 kilometres from Prizren/Prizren. The members of Serbian forces killed 204 Albanian civilians between March 25th and 27th 1999.

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The Joint Command for Kosovo and Metohija issued the ‘Order to provide assistance to MUP in crushing and destroying STS in the Orahovac, Suva Reka and V.Kruša area’ on March 23rd, 1999, to the units of the Priština Corps. The order suggested that local KLA headquarters were located in the villages of Velika Kruša/Krushё e Madhe, Brestovac/Brestovc and Donje Retimlje/Reti e Ulët with a strength of ‘50 to 100 terrorists.’ The order details the assignment of the Priština Corps as follows: ‘With reinforcements and armed non-Šiptar population from KiM, the Priština Corps will assist the MUP in crushing and destroying STS in its zone of responsibility. Task: To support MUP forces in blocking, crushing and destroying STS in the general area of Orahovac, Suva Reka and Velika Kruša.’.The assignment for the 549th MtBr (its Combat Groups 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7) is described as follows: ‘In a joint action with the VJ and MUP carry out an all-out attack from the all-round support point on the following axes: the villages of Bela Crkva, Mala Hoča-Velika Kruša’.

On the basis of this order issued by the Joint Command, on March 23rd, 1999, the Commander of the 549th MtBr, Božidar Delić, issued the ‘Order on destroying STS in the general area of the village of Retimlje, lifting the blockade of the Suva Reka – Orahovac road and establishing control of the territory’. In the order, he issued an assignment to Combat Group 2 to cooperate with the 4th Company of the Đakovica Special Police Units, and ‘carry out an energetic attack and search of the village of Bela Crkva, and to emerge at the Brnjača line, Brod elevation point tt. 432, tt. 440 and in a coordinated action to cut off and destroy STS in the village of Celine and the village of Nogavc, seal off Velika Kruša and direct some forces from the Brod elevation point’ In the same order the forces clearing the territory are issued the following assignment – ‘to prevent any pull-out on the part of STS across the asphalt road and to coordinate their actions with our forces in taking control of the villages of Pirane, Mala Kruša, Velika Kruša, and Celina’.

Delić testified in the Milutinović et al. case that Velika Kruša/Krushё e Madhe was a terrorist stronghold and that his forces did not enter the village on March 25th, 1999 because it was not located in the direction they were heading, but MUP units went through the village and that the police had been fired on.

In the ‘Analysis of the operation of the 549th MtBr in routing of the STS in the general area of Retimlje and lifting the blockade on the Suva Reka – Orahovac road’, dated March 30th, 1999, it is alleged: ‘During the second day of combat operations, the STS that were trapped in V. Kruša were routed and the village of Randubrava was taken…’.

It is noted in the War diary of the 2nd Motorized Battalion for March 25th, 1999: ‘The villages of Bela Crkva, Celina and a part of V. Kruša were captured and cleansed’.