On March 22, 1999, the Joint Command for Kosovo and Metohija, issued an order on the destruction of ‘STF’ [Shiptar terrorist forces] in the region of Donja Drenica. The Yugoslav Army [YA] forces which participated in the attack in the municipality of Srbica/Skënderaj were the 37th and the 125th Motorized Brigades. The operation involved seven Special Police Forces (PJP) companies, of which two were in direct communication with the 37th mtbr.
The initial command post was in Srbica/Skënderaj, and then in the village of Cikatovo/Çikatovë.
On April 30, 1999, between 06.00 and 18.00 hrs. between the Cicavica mountain and the Srbica/Skënderaj-Glogovac/Gllogoc road, where the villages of Baks, Vrbovac/Vërboc, Dosevac/Dashec, Stutica/Shtuticë, Staro Cikatovo/e Čikato Vjetër, Cirez/Qirez are located, an operation designed to break up and destroy the ‘STF’ was carried out. According to a report on the implementation of this operation, signed by the commander of 37th mtbr. Colonel Ljubisa Dikovic, 148 members of the ‘STF’ were killed and 172 persons detained.
On April 30, 1999, around 5.00 a.m. heavily armed VJ/MUP forces surrounded and randomly shelled dozens of villages in the municipalities of Glogovac/Gllogoc and Skenderaj/Skënderaj. Albanian residents from these villages left their homes in panic, seeking refuge in nearby forests and mountains. Women, children, the elderly and weak, who were unable to leave the village, gathered in the local elementary school or hid in the basements of village houses. VJ/MUP forces drove them out of the village, and continued to search for those who had fled into the forests and mountains. Many were killed or seriously injured and wounded immediately upon being discovered, either where they were found or while being transported to another location.
Soldiers and policemen gathered several hundred unarmed Albanian men, children, women, elderly and the weak in large groups in several different places. They were then beaten and threatened, and their personal belongings taken away. They were then led toward the village of Cirez/Qirez, in the municipality of Srbica/Skënderaj.
Until the early evening hours of that day, VJ/MUP forces held about 250 captured Albanian men, mostly farmers, 25 of whom were minors, in the courtyard of the local mosque. Th e men were severely beaten and intimidated, searched and their money, jewelry and other valuables taken away. I.P. (b. May 1, 1964), from the village of Vrbovac/Vrboc, in the municipality of Glogovac/Gllogoc, who had been seriously wounded during the arrest, was driven to the mosque tied to a tank. An unidentifi ed VJ captain killed him on a pile of manure in the back of the mosque’s courtyard, by fi ring thirty bullets into the man’s back. On the Captain’s orders, the soldiers buried Prokshi in the same pile of manure. A member of the Special Police Force (SPF/PJP) carved a Serbian tetragrammatic cross (a cross with four C-shaped “fire steels”) with a knife, on the forehead of Ismet Dvorani, from the village Štutica/Shtuticë, in the municipality of Glogovac/Gllogoc, forcing other prisoners to watch and threatening that the same would happen to them.
Early morning the next day, May 1, 1999, members of the Special Police Forces (PJP) and Special Operations Unit (JSO), known as Frenkis, entered the mosque. Among them was a man known as Charlie, who acted as a leader and the person in charge. With him were Nikci and Djuka, who seemed to be his subordinates. Around noon that day, one group of Albanian men was separated and transported on a VJ truck to the Glogovac/Gllogoc Police Station. They were then handed over to the commander Dragan Miric and officers at the station.
Around 2.00 pm, on the same day (May 1, 1999), having separated and transported the fi rst group to the Glogovac/Gllogoc Police Station, members of the PJP, among whom were Slavko, Djura and NN, nicknamed “Commander,” separated another group of about 90 Albanian prisoners. About 110 prisoners, among whom were 25 minors, were left in the mosque. Members of the PJP and VJ then loaded the group of 90 Albanian men onto two trucks. One was an olive-gray military truck, the other a yellow civilian truck. Th e 90 prisoners were taken toward Glogovac/Gllogoc on a local road.
Forty four men were loaded onto the military truck, which went ahead of the civilian one. Around 2.30 p.m. the truck stopped at Savarin/Te Shavarinat (the mining pits dug for the Feronikel factory) in the village Staro Cikatovo/ Çikatovё e Vjetёr. On the orders of one PJP member known as “Commander,” the other members of the PJP and several soldiers lined up the captured Albanians on the edge of one of the pits, and simultaneously fired a barrage of shots at them, shooting continually until all 43 men fell into the pit. One man who had been killed earlier on the truck was dumped on the pile into the pit. The PJP and soldiers then threw several hand grenades into the pit. B.T., who was among the first to fall into the pit, survived the massacre. After a while, when he regained consciousness and made sure that immediate danger was over, B.T. managed to pull himself from beneath the bodies in the pit.
The other group of captured Albanians, loaded onto the yellow civilian truck which drove behind the military one, was also taken to the Savarin/Te Shavarinat. There the prisoners saw the “police offi cers” fi re a barrage into the Albanians lined up on the edge of the pit, and they saw the men fall into the pit. While watching this, they were told by the police officers that they too would be shot. But they were not. Instead, they were taken to the Glogovac/Gllogoc Police Station, handed over to the commander Dragan Miric and offi cers employed in the station, and held with a group of Albanian prisoners detained earlier.
On May 3, 1999, 14 Albanian men from the Veliqi family, in the village of Poluza/Polluzha, were put into custody at the Glogovac/Gllogoc Police Station where they joined a group of Albanian men held since May 1, 1999.15 On May 6, 1999, a total of 76 Albanian prisoners were located in the Glogovac/Gllogoc Police Station. That day, the commander, Miric and his officers from the Glogovac/Golloc Police Station handed over all 76 Albanian prisoners to the military police. The prisoners were then severely beaten and, later the same day, handed over to Major Puzo, captain Andjelkovic and other officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the Yugoslav Army (VJ) of the 105mm Armored Vehicle Division, and other VJ units stationed at that time in the villages of Poterk/Peterk, Vukovac/Vukoc and Krajkovo/Krajkovё. Members of this division and other units of the Yugoslav Army, forced the 76 Kosovo Albanians to dig trenches and roads every day, and to perform other hard labour.
On May 13, 1999, VJ members singled out 13 men from the group of 76 Albanian prisoners, and drove them away on a military truck to an unknown destination. An unidentified soldier from the Armored Vehicle Division under Major Puzovic (nicknamed Puzo) and captain Andjelkovic, told the remaining Albanian prisoners that those 13 men had been taken to Savarine/Te Shavarinat, in the village Staro Cikatovo/Çikatovё e Vjetёr, to excavate and move the bodies of murdered Albanians, and that when they were finished, all 13 men would be killed and their bodies hidden.
Late in the afternoon on May 1, 1999, members of PJP and VJ entered the mosque in Cirez/Qirez and ordered that 25 juveniles from the group of about 110 captured Albanians remain in the mosque, while everyone else, more than 70 men, including X.V., who had been separated from his thirteen-year old son S., were taken out of the mosque and loaded onto two trucks: one gray and olive-green military truck, the other a yellow, civilian truck. The military truck was loaded first, then the civilian one. X.V. was loaded last in the group of adults onto the civilian truck. Before he was thrown in the truck, X. heard one of the officers tell another soldier, addressing him as “Bosanac”: “Do what you want with these children, because we are not coming back with the trucks.” The two trucks left the mosque at the same time, taking the local road toward Glogovac/Gllogoc. The military truck, with about 40 Albanian men, drove ahead. The yellow civilian truck, with more than 30 Albanian prisoners, among whom was X.V., was behind the military one. Near Savarine/Te Shavarinat, at the same place where, only a few hours earlier on that same day, 43 men had been killed and one seriously wounded, the members of the PJP and VJ unloaded both trucks with all 70 Albanian prisoners. They were all executed, in much the same way as the previous group, but they were now killed in groups of ten. While the last 10 prisoners from the (second) yellow civilian trucks were being taken to the execution pits, two men managed to escape.
All 25 juvenile Albanians, held by the VJ/MUP forces on May 1, 1999 in the mosque in the village of Cirez/Qirez, disappeared and nothing further was heard of them. After the war, in July 1999, bodies of 17 missing juveniles were found among the bodies of adult Albanians killed in the afternoon of May 1, 1999 near Savarin/Te Shavarinat in the village Staro Cikatovo/Çikatovё e Vjetёr. To date, 24 bodies of the captured juvenile Albanians have been found.
After the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo, of the Albanian men captured on April 30, 1999 and held in a mosque in the village of Cirez/Qirez, who on the following day, May 1, 1999, were taken by truck to Glogovac/Gllogoc, and of whom most were shot and dumped in the pits at Savarin/Te Shavarinat – 99 bodies were found and identified beyond doubt on the basis of DNA analysis and in other ways. Of these 99 found and identified, 24 were minors.
Of the Albanians who were found to have been captured on April 30, 1999 and held in the mosque in the village of Cirez/Qirez and who on May 1, 1999 were loaded onto trucks and taken to Glogovac/Gllogoc, 6 are still missing. All six were last seen alive on May 1, 1999, near Savarin/Te Shavarinat in the village of Staro Cikatovo/Çikatovё e Vjetёr.
Of the Albanians who were found to have been in the mosque in the village of Cirez/Qirez on April 30, 1999, and who on May 1, 1999 were loaded onto trucks and shot near Savarin/Te Shavarinat, only three survived.
* 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.